Artemis Fowl is the first novel in a young adult series about a human boy stumbling onto , which was inevitably compared to the Harry Potter series. However, that does a disservice to Colfer, who has created a world with a completely different vibe -- one much more technologically detailed and action-oriented, where the focus is less on good v. evil and more on caper v. counter-caper.
Artemis, too, is no Harry; instead he is an anti-hero, a borderline antagonist. The scion of what used to be an exceedingly powerful and wealthy criminal family, he has a missing father, an insane mother, and a formidable intellect which he plans to use to regain his family's status. He decides to capture a leprechaun (or rather, a member of LEPrecon, the recon wing of the Lower Elements Police) and ransom the fairy for a large pot of gold. That fairy he captures, however, and the entire LEPrecon division, turn out to be far more resourceful than he expected; hijinks ensue.
While this book did not engage me as much as Harry Potter books did (I'm not rushing out to get the rest of the series), it was enjoyable and well-written. The fairy world Colfer created is an interesting twist on traditional fairy tales, and some of the characters were quite fun. Artemis is kind of an over-privileged jerk, and it was good to see his plans go awry; he still comes out on top (not really a spoiler), but there are hints that over the next few novels he matures and develops an actual morality. I suspect Beadboy2 will enjoy this book when he's a little older.