Recently, I finished the 396 page book titled The Neverending Story by Michael Ende, and I decided to write a book review for it. This is my grading scale:
3=Good potential but bad presentation
4=Wonderful read, but has a few flaws
I will grade the following: Plot, Characters, Scenery, Writing Style, and Overall. Caution! This will contain some spoilers.
This delightful hero’s tale starts with a chubby, young boy hiding in a bookstore before going to school. His name? Bastain Balthazar Bux. His mother died when he was younger, and his only love seems to be for books. He feels taken to new places when he reads them, but not like he does when he reads The Neverending Story. After stealing the book from the bookstore and hiding away in the school attic for fear of going home to a furious father, Bastain goes on the ride of his life, for he finds out as he reads that he is the hero in The Neverending Story.
The Neverending Story’s plot was pure genius, I will say. I mean, Ende’s idea of having a boy read a book and gradually find out that he is the savior that Fatasticians (the people in Fantastica, the world in which The Neverending Story takes place) need is weaved beautifully into this book. The book itself, I must admit, is a monsterous size with its small text. However, Ende’s giant world of Fantasica cannot be described in a quick manner. From Shalamoofs to Luckdragons, Ende’s world is truly fantastic. However, I was bored in parts of the book for the lack of action, for I found that the true struggle was within Bastian himself. I am guessing this was Ende’s intention, but I would have liked more insight on The Battle at the Ivory Tower. I realized that he does this for the reason that this book is not meant to be a gory tale. No, it is a tale of heroes and beautiful lands full of intriguing characters who need a savior to save them from the Nothing, which seems to represent people’s lost belief in stories. If the Childlike Empress is not saved, all of Fantasica will die. A boy by the age of ten by the name of Atreyu is sent on a quest to find the cure for the ill Empress. Along the way, Bastian is hinted at being the one who can cure the Childlike Empress. He finds that he is the one who is to give her a new name, which will save all of Fantasica. However, how could a story be real? How could Bastian, a small boy, be the savior for Fantasica?
The reason I gave the characters a rating of 5 is because of how developed they are. Ende does a fabulous job of creating characters that you grow to love. Throughout the book, you will leave beloved characters and, as Ende says, “But that is another story and shall be told another time.” He says this periodically throughout the book whenever you are left hanging about a situation or character. For example, Graograman, the lion of multi-colored flames, is a character that you will grow to love and then hate to let go of. You see, that is what makes it The Neverending Story. It never ends. There are so many back stories of so many characters to explore, even after you finish the book.
Atreyu was your classic, faithful hero. I fell in love with him early on, and his pal, Falkor the Luckdragon, is probably my favorite character in the book. If you have seen the movie, you can imagine Falkor as a giant dog/dragon creature. However, on the cover of the book, he looks more like a lion/dog/dragon. The first half of the book (The part that the first movie covers), is about Atreyu’s quest. The second half (which is partially linked to the second movie, but only vaguely.) The movies do not do the book justice, although I love the first movie as a stand alone movie. To get back to the characters, Bastian Bux is a character whom I actually liked, then disliked, and finally liked again. I can see that Ende wrote Bastian to be the way that I perceived him: A character who is at first innocent, then corrupted by greed, and finally brought back as a braver, likable kid. For much of the second half of the book, I was very frustrated with Bastian at how terrible of a person he was becoming. However, he was representing the greed and thirst for power in humanity. Overall, Michael Ende fabricated a cast of characters that are memorable.
Although bizarre at times, Fantasica is a land that I will probably not forget. Ende has a variety of species and land terrains, including the desert of colors. Bastain had the power to wish whatever he wants, but at a cost. He created the Shalamoofs, which used to be the Alchrasis, who helped to create a beautiful city on the water. Fantasica is home of the glorious Ivory Tower, which is where the beautiful Childlike Empress resides. Bastian also ventures to a place called the City of the Lost Emperors, which I will not go into detail but will say that it is quite interesting. Honestly, there are so many unique cities in Fantasica that it would take me a long time to explain them all! Ende creates a world full of enchanting lands and definitely deserves a high rating.
Writing Style: 3.5
For me, Ende seemed to write with a formal air; it was in third person. The way Ende wrote suggested that you were somewhat connected to Bastian, such as hearing his thoughts, but were not totally personal. Ende did not really have a personal style that I could pick up on except this: his main catchphrase was this: “But that is another story and shall be told another time.” He used great description when it came to scenery and creatures, but I would have like to have been reminded what color Bastian’s eyes were throughout the book if you know what I mean. He explained his scenery well, but he did not have a distinctive writing style, in my opinion. It was your classic formal third person. No bad, but not spectacular.
Overall, I enjoyed the book immensely. Personally, I don’t think I’ll look at books the same way again. Fantastica is a representation of all books, from si-fi to non fiction in the sense that it embodies people’s dreams and stories. It reminds me to never stop dreaming and to never stop believing in stories. If I do stop believing, I might be a part of Fantastica’s destruction, which is a scary thought. The Childlike Empress is enchanting, Falkor the Luckdragon is charming, and Atreyu is faithful. Bastian shows me what a true hero is, though he has his ups and downs. He shows me that all people make mistakes and that even a small boy can make a different. He also shows me what happens when greed and power go to one’s head. The writing style was not anything special, though still strong and descriptive. The plot lacked much action but made up for it in moral lessons and deep thinking. If you are a writer who needs imagination and is open to new things, this book could be a great read for you. When I got it from the library, it said YA (Young Adult) on the spine of the book. This book’s lessons are maybe a little too complex for readers under the age of ten, and adults will find themselves in a world of wonder. You have to become a kid again to read this book.
Perhaps, in The Neverending Story, the key of publishment lies.
Until Next Time,