I first read this book, I don't know, probably ten years ago. My oldest son is reading this series now, and I'm re-reading them with him. And I'm getting a whole lot more out of it than I anticipated.
Artemis's father is presumed dead, and his mother is suffering from something like dementia. The only adult in his life is his bodyguard, Butler. But Artemis is still the boss, so the relationship is skewed. Hence, Artemis has been running around, unchecked, with little to no nurturing for almost two years. Which has made him cold, calculating, and quite unlikable. This intrigues me to no end because the series is called Artemis Fowl, meaning it's all about him! So why would readers want to read about a character we don't like?
The short answer, of course, is that we don't. In fact, my son set the book down after the first chapter and didn't want to pick it back up. I had to convince him to give it a few more chapters, then promise a reward if he read the whole thing. The reward won over, and he finished the book. By the end, he really liked the story and wanted to read the next book in the series. But it took him a third of the book to get to that point. If I hadn't promised him that reward, he'd have missed out on a great series.
Artemis is more likable by the end, and he grows a bit. But the real saving grace is the story's other main character, Holly Short. She's a fairy, and a badass one at that. Without her, I doubt I would have continued reading. The story starts off slow, but once Holly enters the picture the pacing gets a big kick in the pants. It's non-stop adventure from then on. I had a hard time putting it down, and so did my son.
So, if you can tolerate an unlikable main character through the beginning, then you'll probably enjoy the rest. Possibly the rest of the series.