Vintage YA – March – The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

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Written in 1979 originally in German, this wonderful tale of adventure and fantasy is perfect any age. I chose The Neverending Story because of the movie. Have to be honest about this. I was a HUGE fan of the film growing up, even those it was the first movie that made me cry during the same scene every time I watched it (the loss of Artax – sob). When I learned this movie was based on a book I couldn’t wait to read the original.  

The Neverending Story is just as its title suggests – a story that doesn’t end for our main character Bastian Bathalazar Bux. Pudgy, short and grieving over the recent loss of his mother, this story begins as any other – hiding in a old bookshop from school bullies. However, this bookstore isn’t like any other for it holds The Neverending Story. A large book covered in copper-coloured silk with two different snakes forming a circling by biting each other’s tails.

Nicking it from the shop Bastian hides away in the school attic. The hours fly by as he’s whisked away into Fantastica (the version of the name is different as it’s translated. I’m sticking with my printed version but it’ll always be Fantasia in my mind). It’s a world filled with creatures the likes no one has ever heard or seen before. The world is ruled by the Childlike Empress, she is dying and she sends for Atreyu, a great warrior who will do whatever it takes to save his world. He embarks on an adventure that neither him nor Bastian could ever imagine.

 Yet the story doesn’t end there. When a happy ending is in sights for Fantastica, Bastian enters the book and starts his own adventure by wishing as his heart contents. However, there are rules within Fantastica and Bastian will have to learn what it means to find what one wants from within if he’s going to find his way home to the real world.

I really loved book, I did. Every chapter starts with a big beautiful picture that has a letter of the alphabet. The book can be described as being in two parts: the first part follows the movie (mostly) and the second part follows Bastian’s adventures and struggles within Fantastica. The writing is a joy. Ende is magical with words that describe this world filled with imagination. The characters are engaging, vibrant with plenty left for one to picture within. For those that love the film the first half is wonderful but unfortunately the second half is slightly disappointing and a bit too long.

Nevertheless I am thrilled to have read this book. Watching Bastian process and evolve into such a different character is not what I expected. It’s the core of the book, a simple story about a boy that needs to learn to love himself after losing his mom. The Neverending Story is a book that every reader wants to happen to him or herself. To find a story that one can get literary sucked into. To connect with characters and discover things about oneself, it’s a grand escape novel. It’s a book that changes Bastian for the better and at the end of the day, when readers are young, isn’t that what we want books to stand for? 

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