First, there was much less violence. I don't mind action movie. I even enjoyed Die Hard, to which the author compares the series. Somehow, though, I don't like it as much, as it was presented, in a book for kids.
Second, Artemis Fowl actually has a softer side. At the end of the first book, he begs for Holly to help his demented mother. In this one, he teams up with the LEP to rescue his father, who is being held for ransom up in the Arctic. Many of the characters from the first one book make an appearance. Holly and Artemis even seem to form an attachment to each other as they have to save each other's lives.
This installment was a little bit more interesting to me, as I already knew the characters. I thought the story flowed better than the first one, with a more understandable plot line. I also managed to read it within a couple of days, whereas it took me several weeks with the first book. I feel more optimistic about reading the rest of the series in preparation for the release of the final book this summer.