Monday, 6 May 2013

Review: The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

The Neverending Story
4 / 5
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 mysteries of his own heart.

Readers, too, can travel to the wonderous, unforgettable world of Fantastica if they will just turn the page...

I love the film version of the Neverending Story and I’ve wanted to read the book for ages, so when I finally managed to find it, I couldn’t wait to get started. And I was not disappointed.
I had often wondered, having seen the film, how the book originally approached the idea of a story within a story. I can only marvel at how Michael Ende has managed to achieve this feat and not lose the flow of the story or overwhelm the reader with confusion. The way the book’s chapters are the chapters of the Neverending Story itself, complete with beautiful old-fashioned illustrations, really made me feel as though I was sitting next to Bastian in the dusty school attic, reading every single word as he did.
The way Bastian and Atreyu interact through the story is beautifully handled. Their separate journeys entwine and dance on two sides of the page, before finally uniting in Fantastica. I loved the way their story expanded beyond the story shown in the film, which is essentially only the first half of the book. I particularly liked the way the Southern Oracle was described, and the way it could only speak in rhyming verse. I also liked the way the Nothing was described; not as the rampaging black storm cloud which was embedded in my memory, but as a creeping force that seemed all the more menacing.
I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who loves fantasy books, especially the traditional quest-types, with smart and interesting twists. I can definitely see myself reading it again!

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