Review of ‘The Neverending Story’ by Michael Ende

An intelligent, epic fantasy novel for children but possibly best appreciated by adults. I think much of it is symbolic and I’m not sure if I’d have understood that if I’d read it as a child.

Paperback of The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

The protagonist, Bastian Balthasar Bux, is not your typical hero. He’s a chubby, cowardly bookworm. One day, to escape the bullies, he enters a bookshop and is drawn to a book with a beautiful cover and intriguing title: The Neverending Story. He steals the book, hides in the attic of his school and avidly reads the tale, in which the land of Fantastica is dying and it is the quest of warrior boy Atreyu and the white luckdragon Falkor to find the Saviour, a human who will give the Childlike Empress a new name. The first half of the book tells how Bastian uses his imagination to save Fantastica and is literally absorbed into the story. The second half, while not as action-packed, is more interesting as it explores how Bastian is affected by his powerful status and an ill-advised quest with Atreyu, Falkor and a host of eccentric characters. I interpreted the story as a series of morality tales disguised as fantasy adventures, like healthy dried fruits and nuts covered in tempting chocolate.

This is the second time I’ve read the book and I’m sure to re-read again. It’s one of the few 500-page novels which keep me entertained throughout. As a bonus, the chapters are prefaced with old-fashioned woodcut-style images, which illustrate a letter of the alphabet and some characters from the chapter. Each chapter also begins consecutively with the next letter of the alphabet, from ‘All’ until ‘Zigzagging’.

The book was made into a very popular film, which I could write about here… ‘But that’s another story and shall be told another time.’

First published in Germany as Die Unendliche Geschichte, 1979. English translation by Ralph Manheim, 1983. This edition is by Puffin Books, 2014.

11 thoughts on “Review of ‘The Neverending Story’ by Michael Ende”

    1. The film is pretty good but the book is much better! The film sequels are not from the book.

      1. I have the book on my shelves but haven’t read it for a long time. I must have loved it at one stage because I usually get rid of books that I don’t love. Can’t remember the film, although I know I’ve watched it, but I truly love that song and often find myself singing it πŸ™‚

    1. I think it would be a challenging read towards the second half of the book and it’s more complex and darker than the film, however it may be worth a read πŸ™‚

  1. The film was one of my childhood favourites, I found a copy of the book in a 2nd hand shop but have never gotten round to reading it but your review makes it sound intriguing and wonderful.

    1. It is really worth a read! You will find it’s somewhat different to the film.

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