Author: Michael Ende
Publisher's Description: Unicorns, dragons, spirits, will-o'-the-wisps: the inhabitants of an enchanted world. And into this world--through the pages of an old book--ventures Bastian, a lonely boy of ten or twelve. But Fantastica is slowly decaying, its Childlike Empress dying. Only a real human being can set things right by giving the Empress a new name. Bastian takes up the challenge, and finds himself crossing the Swamps of Sadness and the Silver Mountains, meeting sorcerers and giants, bats and night-hobs, gnomes and racing snails. As he journeys bravely toward the Ivory Tower, Bastian's quest is filled with all the wonders of myth and fairy tale. It is a fantasy adventure that will capture your heart--and recapture the magical dreams of childhood.
Where to begin? ....I suppose I'll begin by saying that everything the publisher wrote as the description above is accurate...for the first third of the book. After that the story shifts from an innocent, fantastical, "heart-capturing" tale about a young boy's imagination to one about a quest for power, the realization of that power, gradual corruption and downfall. Despite the change in mood, the story ends on a good note; with the ability to love being the solution to Bastian's problem: how to leave Fantastica and return to the human world.
It's very well written and it is very much so a "neverending" story. Every chapter brings on new characters, new settings, new fairytales and new dilemmas. There were several points in my reading when I wondered what the main plot was or at least wondered when the plot would advance...I think this is because I was constantly comparing what I had seen in the movie with what I was reading in the book... Observation No.1: I'm pretty sure Fantastica is called Fantastia in the movie. Observation No. 2: Atreyu is green in the book, not so in the movie. Observation No. 3: The movie does not cover half of the book...I don't even think is covers a legitimate third of the book. These are just a few trivial ones.
There were a lot of ideas that I liked in this book. For example, I liked how for every wish Bastian made he lost his memories from his past and eventually forgot who he was. Ende uses a lot of dichotomy and contradicting images, thoughts and entities. The example I really appreciated was the beautiful, nocturnal, Perilin the Night Forest and the colorful, fiery, Desert of Colors, and how for one to thrive, the other had to die... I suppose that Bastian and Atreyu are dichotomous entities; not in the sense that one is good or one is bad. More in the sense that yes, they can be both be grouped together as heroes of Fantastica, but they are very different in their methods; Bastian is more emotional in his decisions and Atreyu, logical. The difference is more distinct in the latter part of the novel...I'd say I'm more of an Atreyu-type hero.
Now that I think of it, there was a sequel to the first movie. I don't remember much of it but it probably didn't follow the book that well. I definitely think everyone who has seen the movie should read this book, if they haven't already, so they can know how great it is.
The Neverending Story