Friday, November 11, 2016

The Neverending Story - Michael Ende

Summary: This epic work of the imagination has captured the hearts of millions of readers worldwide since it was first published more than a decade ago. Its special story within a story is an irresistible invitation for readers to become part of the book itself. And now this modern classic and bibliophile's dream is available in hardcover again.

The story begins with a lonely boy named Bastian and the strange book that draws him into the beautiful but doomed world of Fantastica. Only a human can save this enchanted place--by giving its ruler, the Childlike Empress, a new name. But the journey to her tower leads through lands of dragons, giants, monsters, and magic--and once Bastian begins his quest, he may never return. As he is drawn deeper into Fantastica, he must find the courage to face unspeakable foes and the mysteries of his own heart.

Readers, too, can travel to the wondrous, unforgettable world of Fantastica if they will just turn the page....  (Summary and picture from goodreads.com)


My Review: Let's be honest, who hasn't seen that ridiculous 80s film?  For me it was a staple of childhood, even with the bad puppetry, poor acting, choppy storyline, and screaming children.  Revisiting the film a few months back, I thought it was high time I actually read the book.

One of the first cool features of The Neverending Story is the book itself--it alternates between red and green text depending on which world we're experiencing, Bastian's or the land of Fantastica.  There are also cool illustrations at the beginning of each chapter (not to mention each chapter's first letter is the alphabet, A-Z).

The first half of this book hooked me with its vivid, unique story.  I loved following Atreyu's quest, and watching how Bastian is unknowingly being drawn--literally--into the world of Fantastica.  The story itself flows really well, the characters are simultaneously amusing and heartbreaking, and the trials that Atreyu faces are faced vicariously by Bastian as well, not to mention us as the reader, which plays a vital role for the first climax of this book.

I won't lie, the second half was a little slower in my opinion, and the excitement to hurry to my lunch break and read it lagged.  While I see the merit of it now having finished the entire book, it was a bit hard to slog through after the intrigue and exciting nature of the first half.  It felt a little as if it had hit a brick wall and trickled down like molasses until the finale.  Mind, I'm not saying that stories have to be fast paced every second to be good, the first half wasn't always this way, the second half just felt like an entirely different story, which, in a sense, I suppose it was.   


What I do love about the second half is this: who doesn't want to escape, literally escape, into the pages of a good book?  Bastian is able to do so through the power of the Auryn and the Childlike Empress, where he actually becomes a character in the Neverending Story.  Only, as he grows in power (including making things happen and appear by simply telling a story about it), he becomes a bit of a jerk and Atreyu's foil, and there were times I just wanted to smack him.

Still, his friendship with Atreyu holds firm and comes full circle at the end, and I liked how everything was sorted, and in hindsight, this second half was important for the completion of the story and Bastian's growth.

There was also a trending theme throughout the book that I rather loved.  When Atreyu or Bastian would interact with a character, before that character departed from the story, the author would give them a short paragraph stating all the things they would go on to do, ending with, "But that is another story and shall be told another time."  We never hear these stories, and it's a fascinating concept that they could be happening somewhere else in some realm or other.

Any book lover should read The Neverending Story.  It's as if this book was written for anyone who's ever had the desire to actually escape into a good book and become who they're meant to be.  Because books really can do that, even if you don't physically get to enter into their world.

My Rating: Four stars

For the sensitive reader: That scene with Artax in the film?  Remember it?  It's far more heartbreaking in the book.  There are also fantastical monsters and beasts, along with peril, death and battles, but all tastefully done.

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