James Maxon's Reviews > The Neverending Story

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
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My sixth grade teacher showed the movie “The Neverending Story” to the class one day, and ever since I maintained a personal fondness for it(and for the soundtrack).

Many years later, my mother found this story in book format. At first I didn’t want any part of it; I thought the book could never be as good as the movie, but my mother kept on insisting, so I finally broke down and read it. Let me just say that this was the beginning of my love for [German author] Michael Ende’s writings (who sadly passed away in 1995).

Not only was the book much better, it was longer, too. The first movie barely covered the first half of the book, and even though there were two other movies made, an attempt at a cartoon, and a TV series for younger children, they did not do the story justice.

It's interesting to note that Michael Ende hated the movie. He unknowingly lost film rights when he signed a contract for the book, and so he didn't have any say with how they produced it. After seeing how different the book truly is, I understand Ende's criticism, but had it not been for the movie, I'd have never known about the book. So I 'm happy with both.

Story overview: (### spoilers ###)

A chubby boy (unlike in the movie)—named Bastian—wanders into a small antique bookstore where he meets the mysterious owner. Bastian sees a book called “The Neverending Story,” which the man insists is not for sale (and not for him), but a strong yearning to read forces Bastian’s hand and he takes the book home.

Bastian reads of the adventures of Atreyu (also incorrectly depicted in the movie as he has green skin), who searches to find an answer to this “Nothing” that is destroying the land of Fantastica (Fantasia in the film). During his quest, Atreyu meets many interesting characters and eventually finds that the answer to their problem has to do with a human child, who needs to give the Childlike Empress a new name. To his astonishment, Bastian finds that this child is actually him, but he realizes this too late and the world of Fantastica dies.

Bastian, now physically removed from the real word, becomes a part of a new Fantastica. His duty is to make wishes, and in doing so he forms this new world (including turning himself from a chubby little boy into a studly hero, nice!). However, the power starts to go to his head and he finds himself up against his friend, Atreyu, who tries to keep Bastian from taking the crown of the Emperor herself.

After a long and hard road, Bastian starts to see his folly and realizes that every time he makes a new wish an old memory from his real life disappears. In an attempt to save himself, he quests to find a way to return to the human world.

My thoughts:

This is one of my favorite stories of all-time. I have read it many times, and plan to read it several more; I get something new out of it at each reading, not to mention I love being reminded of the many things that I truly enjoyed—particularly the Desert of Colors. Also, the story is full of symbolism regarding the human condition, and it offers great opportunities for thought and reflection.

Things to consider:

I would say that this book is good for girls and boys starting around the age of eight. Of course, it’s also great for a much older audience too, as Ende said, “[my books are] for any child between 80 and 8 years.” I would warn that there are moments which may be considered too scary for younger children—including elements of sadness (like when Atreyu lost his horse to the swamps of sadness).

Opportunities for discussion:

We need to keep a balance between the real world and the creative world; do not get so caught up in life that your need for imagination and creative becomes lost, but don’t become so obsessed over it that you disconnect from real life.
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Reading Progress

June 16, 2011 – Shelved
May 14, 2013 – Started Reading
June 1, 2013 –
60.0%
June 24, 2013 –
80.0%
July 8, 2013 – Finished Reading
April 22, 2014 – Shelved as: favorites-shelf
June 28, 2020 – Shelved as: to-read

Comments Showing 1-1 of 1 (1 new)

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message 1: by Helmut (new)

Helmut Wagabi I am currently reading Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, and really enjoying it. The young Pip seems to be an object of contempt wherever he goes. He is seen as a burden by his no nonsense sister, Mrs. Joe Gargery, and is also looked at with a lot of contempt at Miss Havisham's place.


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