I’m a big fan of Eoin Colfer. When asked what my favorite book series is, I always answer, without hesitation, Colfer’s young adult book Artemis Fowl. That particular book has spawned a seven (soon to be eight) part series, detailing the adventures of a boy genius and the fantastical creatures he encounters along the way. The fun characters, brisk pace, and sharp humor are what first attracted me to the series, and are what keep me coming back for more. However, just last week, I was browsing the McNaughton section at our library, and I found a new book by Colfer, called Plugged. Its cover read “If you liked Artemis Fowl, it’s time to grow up.”
Needless to say, I dropped everything and dove right in.
As the title implies, this is not the kid-friendly world of Artemis Fowl. Readers are thrust almost immediately in the dark, hard and grimy world of Slotz, a seedy and run-down casino in New Jersey. Readers experience this world through the eyes of Daniel McEvoy, a doorman for this particular establishment. Things are business as usual for McEvoy, he begins the book beating up a particularly rowdy customer (who licked one of the bartenders). When one of McEvoy’s friends is found murdered, however, McEvoy can’t help but get involved. Along the way he meets a group of incredibly colorful characters, and attempts to piece together the puzzle before he finds himself dead as well.
Colfer injects his work with his trademark humor. Things are raunchier now than Artemis Fowl, but the humor is still there. The situations the characters find themselves in (you’ll never look at a plate of lasagna the same way) are so bizarre, yet you can’t help but keep reading to see how Colfer tops his last sequence. Looking back, the scenes are almost cartoonish in quality, which does clash with the (somewhat) realistic and dirty world the characters inhabit. But Colfer’s text is so sharp, and so quick, that when you’re reading it, you don’t notice. You just get swept up for the ride.
Characters are very strong all around. McEvoy is good company for the whole text, and his narration reminds of other iconic characters such as James Patterson’s Alex Cross. The people McEvoy range from realistic and sympathetic (Connie, who manages to make an impression in only a few pages) to the cartoonish lawyer Faber, who jabs his finger around his scenes and puts on a big show.
The plot is tight and never slows down, with plenty of action and laughs to keep you going. I don’t think the book will be exploding off the charts, because at its core, it’s a fairly typical detective story. However, it’s in Colfer’s voice that the text comes alive, and becomes something above the norm. If you like Artemis Fowl, or are just looking for a fun and creative take on a well-worn genre, give Plugged a look. It’s quick, funny, and a good ride. I’m eagerly awaiting the sequel.