Monday, July 9, 2018

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende Review

Title: The Neverending Story
Author: Michael Ende
Age Group: Middle Grade/Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Okay, so I’ll admit it: This is a reread. I read this for the first time when I was ten or so; my library had a hardcover copy, and I loved the way that the text was green and purple; that was initially the thing that caught my eye. I also adored all the three movies, so when I realized that my library had a copy, I snatched it up. It’s been sitting in my library stack for a while, and as soon as I was finished with Bookish Boyfriends, I started it, and reading it from an adult perspective put a different spin on things. It was still the captivating tale from my childhood, but it was really interesting, the things that I noticed because I had grown so much since reading it the first time.

First, I’d like to note that the movie and the book are completely different, as is usually the case when a book is turned into another media format; the movie only scratched the surface of the worldbuilding that Michael Ende created, and a lot of the characters were significantly different, especially Bastian himself, but overall, I think the movies did a good job of telling the story. It had been years since I read the book, but the writing was beautiful, the pacing breakneck, the illustrations gorgeous, dark, creepy, and eerily detailed, and I loved every dark, lovely moment inside of this story.
Bastian Balthazar Bux doesn’t exactly fit in at his school: often, he’s the target for bullies and tormented by teachers. Grieving for his late mother, one of his only ways of coping are reading books. When he passes a bookstore on the way to school one day, he spots a book called The Neverending Story. He steals it and hides in the attic, plunged into the story of Atreyu and The Childlike Empress, quite literally eventually. And he must decide whether to save the magical world of Fantastica, or if he will ever return to his own life and world, for the very fabric of existence may depend on his choice…

This book was wonderful, and not just because of the nostalgia factor. The prose was beautiful, the worldbuilding was well fleshed-out, and I was captivated by the illustrations. I really liked the adventure of it all, and I really loved Fantastica, and the peril that plagued the world that Bastian eventually fell into. The pacing was breakneck, and I was immediately spellbound. This book was nothing less than a classic fantasy, suitable for both middle grade and young adult readers. I also really liked the way that the darker parts of Bastian’s personality were expanded on; it was almost like the world of Fantastica changed him as much as he changed it. This was a weird experience, reading this book so many years on. I still really enjoyed the fantasy elements of this book; it will always be a classic to me. But the concepts of escapism, good and evil, and fantasy versus reality really stuck with me. Honestly, the second read was just as good as the first, especially with all the riddles, questions, and the ending! I only wish that there was more! The bottom line: A beautifully written, thought-provoking fantasy novel perfect for all ages, I still love The Neverending Story! Next on deck: The Radical Element: 12 Stories of Daredevils, Debutantes, and Other Dauntless Girls by Jessica Spotswood!

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