Children's fantasy book by Eoin Colfer. This is the second in a series - see "Artemis Fowl" for information on the first book.
Although I really hated the first Artemis Fowl book, I'm glad I gave Colfer a second chance. "The Arctic Incident" is much better than the first book. Artemis is a much more likeable character this time around. Given the motivation of rescuing his father, and no longer completely in control of the plot, he seems like a real boy rather than an evil Tom Swift clone.
The fairy characters are also much more multi-dimensional in this book. Colfer seems to have learned the futility of simply telling us how cool the fairies are, and lets their actions speak for themselves. As a result, all the characters seem more alive than before, and begin to show some individual traits. This time around, we meet a larcenous dwarf who collects Oscar statuettes, a vengeful pixy technologist on the verge of taking over the kingdom, various members of the Russian Mafiya, and a horde of goblins who, unfortunately, never break the "stupid savage goblin" template.
The improvements continue in the book's plot, which is more dynamic than that of the first book. If that book was Die Hard with pixies, this one is more like a James Bond adventure. Artemis and the fairies of the LEP face challenges that seem much more threatening than before, in a series of escapades going from Paris to the Arctic Circle, to Hollywood and the fairies' underground kingdom.
All in all, this book isn't going to threaten Lemony Snicket or any of the classics, but it's solid entertainment that will probably have children anxiously awaiting further installments. Especially since Mulch Diggums (the dwarf with the almost complete Oscar collection) seems destined for a larger part in the next book. Check it out.
Now, what happened to those action figures?