The Atlantis Complex by Eoin Colfer
Digital Audiobook narrated by Nathaniel Parker
Published by Hyperion Books on August 3, 2010
Series: Artemis Fowl #7
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Irish Mythology, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Length: 357 pages or 7 hours, 38 minutes
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Artemis has committed his entire fortune to a project he believes will save the planet and its inhabitants, both human and fairy. Can it be true? Has goodness taken hold of the world’s greatest teenage criminal mastermind?
Captain Holly Short is unconvinced, and discovers that Artemis is suffering from Atlantis Complex, a psychosis common among guilt-ridden fairies—not humans—and most likely triggered by Artemis’s dabbling with fairy magic. Symptoms include obsessive-compulsive behavior, paranoia, multiple personality disorder and, in extreme cases, embarrassing professions of love to a certain feisty LEPrecon fairy.
Unfortunately, Atlantis Complex has struck at the worst possible time. A deadly foe from Holly’s past is intent on destroying the actual city of Atlantis. Can Artemis escape the confines of his mind and the grips of a giant squid in time to save the underwater metropolis and its fairy inhabitants?
For as much love and praise as I give the Artemis Fowl series as a whole, I really could have done without The Atlantis Complex.
Our other stories have been triumphs of good over evil. They’ve been filled with Artemis’s cleverness and Holly’s quick action, Butler’s brawn. The comic relief characters continue to shine in The Atlantis Complex, but outside of Mulch Diggums (who is becoming one of my favorite sidekick characters of all time), this book is just… off.
So lets talk about it.
Artemis Fowl has decided to give up his evil ways – like, really give them up this time – and put all his time and money into saving the world. He invents an ice-cannon-thing and calls his favorite faeries of note to a meeting in Iceland to reveal it and ask for their support. All the while, Artemis is struggling with a faerie-based mental illness called “Atlantis Complex”. Atlantis Complex manifests itself in obsessive-compulsive disorder, paranoia, and multiple personality disorder. He’s decided he can’t trust Butler, so he’s sent Butler on a wild goose chase after his sister Juliet, and has even but a triple lock on his laboratory door to keep his toddler twin brothers out. Of course, there’s a villain, nothing goes according to plan, etc. etc.
Things I don’t like here? Well, first of all, I can’t stand Orion. He’s this sappy romantic alternate personality who speaks like a knight in a bad made-for-TV adaptation of King Arthur. My husband thought his interludes were hilarious, but really, I just wanted him to go away. The overly chivalrous overtone were not something either Holly Short (who reacted appropriately, brava!) or I needed to hear.
The other character I found sadly lacking was Foaly. I really like Foaly in his normal position as Oracle (DC universe reference) but in the field, he’s unnecessary. Foaly adds almost nothing to the continuation of the plot, other than owning a phone with good signal. I think Colfer may have wanted to give the centaur more “screen time”, but it didn’t work for me.
Finally, and this is a BIG thing, I didn’t like the way the mental health picture was handled. I am absolutely sure that Colfer went into this with good intentions, because a YA fantasy book dealing with the difficulties of mental illness in 2010 was ahead of the curve. Colfer has used his platform in this series before to deal with issues (see: The Time Paradox). The treatment of Artemis’s illness isn’t compassionate or progressive. Atlantis Complex is used as a plot device, with electric shocks to manually flip personalities and insensitive jokes being thrown about. The way OCD is approached leads me to believe that Colfer went with the pop culture understanding of the illness. It’s night and day compared to the #OwnVoice conversation had in Turtles All the Way Down, and it’s not a pretty comparison. I did a quick search to see if Colfer’s had any experience with mental illness, and I’m not finding anything. So I really think he probably tried to research it… but this is where you REALLY see a difference between an #OwnVoices writer and one on the outside… I dunno. People don’t seem to be complaining about this, so maybe it’s just me. It was a little cringy for me.
There are some good moments too – I love Juliet, and her and Butler’s solo scenes were fantastic – and certainly Mulch steals every scene he’s in. But as an overall book, this one just doesn’t impress.