The first non-school book I've read for about a month, but it's great that I'm finally able to read the stuff I want to now. This was a great book to get back into the game, the kind that kept you turning the pages, engaged and getting the warm fuzzies when you finish. This is part of my Review ALL the Books Challenge, for more information on that click here.
Title: The Neverending Story
Author: Michael Ende
Date of Completion: 10/4/2013
Rating: 5 stars
Reason for Reading: I'm familiar with the first film (I also had a bit of a crush on the movie's Atreyu when I was about 11), and I've wanted to read the book since I first saw it.
Summary: Bastian, outcast bookworm comes across a mysterious old book, "The Neverending Story". As he reads he becomes entwined in the world of Fantastica, the realm of imagination, who is suffering decay at the hands of the Nothing. We join Bastian and Atreyu as they seek to restore balance to the dying Fantastica in an amazing adventure.
Bastian - I love bookworms, (seriously my boyfriend's a pretty major one) and that passage explaining what he did next at Coreander's was just so accurate, that I had to like Bastian. He got a bit annoying when he got all "I wanna be the very best, Like no one ever was," but I generally don't like characters when they get arrogant, so this was no exception.
Atreyu - is a highly respectable character. He's courageous, physically and psychologically strong, selfless, loyal and for the greater good. You really admire and connect with Atreyu, it's hard to believe he's only 10. I guess now that I've put it into words, he sounds like a Gary Stu, but it never felt that way while reading it (trust me, I hate Mary Sues/Gary Stus).
The Childlike Empress & The Old Man of Wandering Mountain - The Childlike Empress although essential and the ruler of Fantastica, she is passive and impartial, loving all her subjects. The Old Man was intriguing in his house's description and his role of recording Fantastica.
Falkor & Yikka - I love the bond these two have with their riders and their distinct speech patterns. Falkor's ever optimistic, and he sticks by Atreyu's side even though they met by coincidence. Yikka's only half an ass, so she know's things, she's so plain compared to everything else, and she's probably the closest we have to a sarcastic character.
Gmork & Xayide - Gmork's pessimism contrasted with Falkor's optimismand the passage he had about lies (see review for quote) was highly accurate, especially in terms of marketing. He was threatening, motivated and made a good villain. From when we meet Xayide it's pretty obvious she's an antagonist, there's no fooling you, but it's interesting to see the cunning ways she manipulates Bastian and her Seeing Hand is pretty creepy and cool at the same time.
Carl Conrad Coreander & Bastian's Father - I like how Carl's sceptical of the people in the real world but highly believing in fiction and Fantastica. He's probably the closest to a guide we have but he's still a mysterious character that makes you curious about his journey with The Neverending Story. I really like how although Bastian's father comes off as one of the typical absent parents found in YA and Children's novels, he does have an important role in the story.
Others in Atreyu's Quest - Woah there are so many side characters it's crazy, but they are distinct and memorable, so that's why I've split the Others section. Creatures like Ygramul the Many and Uyulala were interesting concepts. Even Morla, the Gnomics and the messengers were given there own speech patterns and outlooks on the Nothing. Spook City totally creeped me out, and the other creatures like the bark trolls and the wind giants added depth to the world. Every single time it said "that is another story that will be told another time" I was like "NOOOOOO tell me now", every single time: Cairon (Greek mythology reference?), Engywook, Hero Hynreck, Yikka, the list goes on, it was that hooking. I would happily read another book which told these stories for another time (and I doubt I'm alone).
Other's in Bastian's Quest - Madame Eyola probably made the biggest impression out of the side characters for me, her loving motherly but ever changing nature (pun intended). Grograman was great at explaining the ongoing cyclic chracteristic of Fantastica and he was really lovely, and I feel sorry for his solitude. The Shlamoofs gave you annoyance, the Yskalnari peace and cooperation, Yor mysteriousness. The City of Old Emperors is even more haunting than the Spook City, and it's justifiably the reason for Bastian's turnaround. Other minor characters like Ilwan and Querquerobad are still in my head after weeks. I liked the little reference to Shakespeare, or "Shexper", a cute thought that Fantastica may have inspired his works.
The Plot: The first third of the book corresponds with the movie, so I was left wondering what direction the remaining 2 thirds would go in. The middle of the book lost my interest, as the first third had a direction, but in this section it's not clear and it's just Bastian making a lot of wishes. It picks itself up gradually though and by the time I was up to the City of Old Emperors, I was hooked again. It definitely redeems itself by the end (not that it got bad in the first place). Although there was a tonne of different events and characters introduced, it all fell into place neatly and only added to the experience instead of clashing.
The Writing: Despite being in third person you really do connect with Bastian and Atreyu. The writing is simple, effective and ageless. There is great description but didn't feel like purple prose. The description of the Nothing was so unique and intriguing, as were the fantastical creatures and buildings introduced. There were 26 Chapters, each one starts with a letter in a full-page illustration, in alphabetical order. The content in Fantastica and Reality were kept separate but flowed together seamlessly. All this is even more impressive when you consider that this is just a translation.
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