Book Cover
Title The Neverending Story
Series ---
Author Michael Ende
Cover Art --- (covered by a sticker)
Publisher Puffin - 1997
First Printing 1979
Category Fantasy
Warnings None

Main Characters

Bastian Balthazar Bux, Atreyu, Falkor, Childlike Empress

Main Elements Dragons, and just about every other magical creature known and unknown

The classic tale of Bastian and the book that magically comes to life.

Bastian Balthazar Bux is a shy, awkward, and certainly not heroic. His only escape is reading books. When Bastian happens upon an old book called The Neverending Story, he's swept into the magical world of Fantastica - so much that he finds he has actually become a character in the story! And when he realizes that this mysteriously enchanted world is in great danger, he also discovers that he has been the one chosen to save it. Can Bastian overcome the barrier between reality and his imagination in order to save Fantastica?

I grew up on the movie. It was many years later that I discovered that it was actually originally a book. I went out and bought it but it was many years later that I got around to reading it. So lets just say I wasn't the target age group, but I still found it to be beautiful, magical, and in fact, full of surprises.

See, only about the first half of the book actually maps to the movie (very closely in fact, though it had been years since I saw the movie I could recognize most events except the initial meeting of Falkor and Atreyu), there is a whole second half that moviegoers would be completely unaware of. Oh and what a story it is. Well let's start with the first half, where Bastian finds a book called the Neverending Story and, well, steals it from a bookshop and hides in his school's attic to read. He is quickly drawn into the events taking place in Fantastica, where the world is being consumed by a mysterious and terrifying Nothing, the only thing preventing it from consuming all is the ailing Childlike Empress. But she is dying and Atreyu must go set out to find the cure.

Now I won't tell you what the cure is other than to say that Bastian plays a critical role. Yes, as a simple reader of a book, he holds the lives of all the characters in his hands. In fact without him, without human imagination and wonder, the entire land of Fantastica will cease to exist.

So what's in the book and not in the movie? A most amazing rebuilding of Fantastica, and world of wonderous wishes. Of forests that glow in the night and vanish in the morning to be replaced by a desert of a million colours. I stepped back a bit at that point and wondered if I could invent such things, and was pretty sure I could not, I was much impressed with Michael Ende and his creative mind. If nothing else, read this book to find yourself in lands encountering creatures no one else could have invented (his father was a surrealist painter, perhaps that influenced him!)

Now I'll bring up something I noted as an adult reader but probably wouldn't have questioned as a kid. Bastian is tasked with rebuilding Fantasia through making wishes, after all, a fantasy land is based on nothing more than what humans can imagine. But every time he makes a wish he looses a little of himself, forgetting his school, his friends, his family, till he almost has nothing left. But why is he being punished for wishing if wishing is necessary for Fantastica to go on? He's being forced to choose between saving the land of fantasy and his life in the real world. I found that odd and contradictory.

But my complaint is minor. This is a true childhood classic and I highly recommend to anyone who ever thought that their dreams might be a more than just a figment of their imagination. Even to any adult who doesn't want to completely grow up.

Posted: December 2016


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