I don't read a lot of new books that come out anymore because they're so expensive, but this fall, I read some new installments of three children's book series.
Atermis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex is the seventh installment in the Artemis Fowl series, and I'm pretty amazed that the series has gone on this long. I remember when the title was first announced, and the plot was said to be something like this: Artemis goes undercover as a convict in the Atlantis Jail so he can make friends with his nemesis, Opal Koboi. Together, they stage a daring jail break, because nobody wants to read about non-daring jail breaks. Then, presumably, he stops her from taking over the world.
But then Toy Story 3 totally stole the jailbreak plotline, so they had to go with something else. Either that, or the author changed his mind, just like with the reports that the last book would feature an evil hypnotist.
The real plot is that Artemis is suffering from The Atlantis Complex, an imaginary disease which makes him paranoid, OCD, and gives him multiple personalities. I'm not going to lie: it's a little weird to see the series' main character become mentally unbalanced. His alternate personality, Orion, however, is hilarious because he's so ridiculous.
I think the book moves a little too slowly. It takes a long time before the plot shows up. The villain of the book--there's only one this time--doesn't show up until you're a third of the way through. And the heroes of the series don't get together to stop the bad guy until two-thirds of the way through. I say it would have helped the book's pacing if the two chapters about Mexico (chapters 2 and 4) were merged into one.
There are good parts to the book, though. Juliet is back, for the first time since Book 3. Opal Koboi is not the main villain, which I'm told makes some people very happy, even though I like her. It's nice to see a new villain take the spotlight. And like I said earlier, Artemis' alternate personality is pretty hilarious.
The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan is kind of, but not really, the latest book in his Percy Jackson series. It takes place in the Percy Jackson universe, about a year after the last book ended. Percy himself isn't in the book because he has mysteriously disappeared (uh oh!), but the familiar characters like Annabeth, Rachel and Thalia all make appearances.
Most of the book is about our three new heroes, Jason, Leo and Piper. They're on a fancy quest to defeat the King of the Giants and save Hera from being killed. Jason is the main hero, who is the strong and silent type. He's suffering from amnesia, for plot purposes, because otherwise, he'd know what to do ahead of time, and nothing would be a surprise. Piper is the female lead, and I kind of like her better than Jason. She has self-identity issues, mostly thanks to her father who has his own issues. Leo is the comedy relief, but he's also a good character who has some depth.
The book is in third person, and every chapter switches off between characters. So, one chapter will focus on what Jason is doing, then the next will focus on Leo, and so on. It helps with the character development, because you get to see each character in his/her own element, rather than seeing all three of them together all the time. In fact, my favorite part of the book were the chapters when Piper was alone, without the other main characters, in a minor plotline about her dealing with a girl named Drew.
My other favorite part was the Coach, who is the comedy relief. He's very gung-ho about fighting and sports. It's funnier than it sounds, believe me.
Overall, I would say it is just as good as the Percy Jackson books, although it is a tad long. I would have cut out the King Midas adventure, myself, as it did nothing to help the plot, not was it particularly interesting. And of course, the book's cliffhanger ending (when Jason gets his memory back and they realize where Percy Jackson is) makes me eager for the next installment.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth is the Christmas gift I'm giving my little cousins. It's basically just like the other books in the series. I see it more as a collection of different little stories, rather than a book with a unified plot. The stories are kind of, but not really, related to each other.
So, if you like the other books, you'll like this one. Say what you want about the series, the author is very consistent about keeping each book at the exact same level of quality as the others. As they say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. I'm sure my cousins will like it just as much as they like the other ones.
In conclusion, I'd say that The Lost Hero comes in first place this year, followed by Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Artemis Fowl trailing in last place. Tough luck there, Arty.