A review by Nalini Haynes
Miles and Beckett Fowler, Artemis’s 11-year-old twin brothers — the Fowl Twins — are at home alone when a convergence of coincidences sends them off on an adventure. A toy troll (‘toy’ for its size or lack thereof) emerges on the beach of their island home.
Duke Bleedham-Drye is hunting trolls for the key to immortality. He’s in a hunter’s hide on the mainland using the most advanced technology available to villains. When the troll appears on the beach, the duke shoots the troll with a pellet that, upon impact, plastic-wraps its victim.
Beckett sees the troll and, believing it’s an action figure, pockets the hapless troll.
Specialist (in training) Lazuli, a fairy of the LEP (fairy police) and successor to Captain Holly Short from the original series, is on a training exercise on the Fowls’ island. She intends to rescue the troll but accidentally makes the island invisible. As you do.
Upon observing the absence of island, Sister Jeronima and her seconded black ops agents head in to investigate.
Two groups of bad guys, a Fowl twin with criminal leanings that, at best, result in a cavalier disregard for property, a fairy who believes the Fowls are a threat and an inconvenienced troll combine to set the tone for this fun adventure aimed at primary and middle school children.
The Short Version
When my son was in primary school he said he didn’t like reading. I knew he just hadn’t met the right books yet. I kept hunting for the right books until I discovered the original Artemis Fowl series. My son loved those books so much that, when I interviewed Eoin Colfer, my son asked for Colfer to sign a few of his very battered dearly loved favourite novels. I believe this new series will likewise ensnare a new generation, infecting them with the reading bug. Hopefully new fans will also procure the original series.
The Fowl books are like the best of Shrek: they genuinely appeal to readers of all ages. You will enjoy this novel whether reading to your children, reading as carer help at school, reading for yourself to keep up with your kids’ consumption of pop culture, or just for your personal pleasure.
The original series is so popular that there is quite a buzz online already. Eoin Colfer’s website has information of course, then there’s the Artemis Fowl wiki and the Artemis Fowl fandom wiki. You don’t get wikis like this unless the source books have won people’s hearts and minds.
Read on if you want more details about tropes and diversity. Or just put your order in for the book now.
The Fowl Twins vs twin tropes
Myles and Beckett are The Fowl Twins: they’re fraternal (non identical) twins but were born conjoined between wrist and fingers on one hand each. Separation was simple but left a scar, which is a ‘feature’. They ‘wrist bump’ instead of high five. Myles claims it’s a kind of radar and they have a (sigh) psychic connection.
A quick rundown of twin tropes that Colfer uses in this novel, both as plot devices or for comedic effect:
- Conjoined twins who are also psychically linked. (I had a quote here but considering I only have an ARC and the book hasn’t been published yet, I took it out.)
- However, the Fowl twins are not identical except for after their heads are shaved because [REDACTED].
- Trickster twins
- Polar opposite twins although, for this trope, they’re usually identical twins. However, [REDACTED].
- Eviller brunette twin where you can tell they are more evil by their darker hair. Before Myles does anything sinister or even remotely criminal, the book mentions his criminal tendencies and the criminal inclinations in his prefrontal cortex. And he’s the darker twin.
I don’t consider twins to be a minority group, probably because I have twin brothers who were the idol of my mother’s (figurative) house altar. However, some stigma attaches twins so I’ll discuss this in brief.
The Fowl Twins vs a real pair of twins
bothers brothers* are supposedly fraternal (not identical) but they’re so close to being identical that for years my son believed there was only one brother. (He saw them infrequently and never together.) From early childhood, my brothers were joined the hip (figuratively) but also differentiated by, for example, one preferring blue the other red, one preferring honey and the other peanut butter. When one stayed overnight at a friend’s place the other was lost and upset at home.
* A genuine typo I decided to leave in, because when isn’t a Freudian slip amusing?
In primary school they switched classes sometimes (and were caught at least once). THEY PLAYED INTO TWIN TROPES. By senior high school they were over it: they went to different schools but not by their choice. When strangers greeted one believing he was the twin they knew, that twin was extremely rude instead of telling them they had the wrong brother. One grew his hair long to differentiate and was pissed off when people didn’t notice that HE’S NOT THE TWIN WITH SHORT HAIR.
At some ages they would have loved The Fowl Twins and their adventures but at other stages of life some of the tropes would have annoyed them. Therefore, it’s worth having the twin conversation, particularly if The Fowl Twins is read in class, if your child knows twins or if your child is a twin.
The Fowl Twins vs Spanish speaking people
I believe Sister Jeronima is the only Spanish-speaking person in The Fowl Twins. I’m not sure but she might be the only human of colour as well. From memory, the original series featured some diversity as well as tackling issues such as climate change and nuclear waste on the Russian train (a train that exists in real life). Considering that Trump is demonising people from Spanish-speaking countries in North and South America, I find it concerning that one of the villains is the only Spanish-speaking person.
However, she’s not the major villain of the series: the main villain is terribly English. [REDACTED] I want her to see the error of her ways because kick-ass woman character but [REDACTED].
It’s hard work not giving away the plot when there’s so much to discuss!!!
The Fowl Twins vs the environment
The previous series, Artemis Fowl, increasingly reflected concern for the environment by using real-world environmental issues in the plots. The Fowl Twins starts with the family living on an island in a carbon-neutral if not carbon-positive home. The bad guys use plastic. The good guys use what’s at hand. Colfer does not moralise or lecture, he sets the stage and lets the characters wreak havoc. And havoc is wreaked.
I have the distinct impression that Colfer has visited Amsterdam to note the architecture of what is becoming, in his novel, increasingly Venice-like. Myles’s investigation into architecture resulting in a landmark of note participating in the plot is ingenious. I love it when the setting isn’t just a stage, it’s a character.
My son loved the first Fowl series, it enticed him to read. He was re-reading those books into high school, only stopping about the time he started reading A Song of Ice and Fire. This new series will encourage a new generation of primary and middle school readers who will discover that reading is fun. Parents and teachers can enjoy reading both series to children individually or in classrooms. Highly recommended.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
ISBN 10: 0008324816
Imprint: HarperCollins – GB (Australia)
Format: paperback, pp.432
Age: From 10 years
Category: JUVENILE FICTION / Action & Adventure / General