Home > Literature, Reviews > Review of The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

Review of The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

The Neverending StoryI’ve read one other book by this German author – Momo. That was back in 2007, I think – the previous time I was in South Korea. I liked it, and, although it was fairly low down on my reading list, I wanted to check out The Neverending Story as well. I was given the opportunity by my girlfriend; we watched the film together and then she lent me the book.

I would have prefered to have read the book first, actually. I find it increasingly annoying that films inevitably influence one’s visualisation of the books one reads. I had seen it before, but way back in the eighties and I’d mostly forgotten it. But anyway.

The first part of the book is the story told in the film – Bastian steals The Neverending Story from the bookshop and reads about Atreyu’s quest to find a cure for the Childlike Empress. The sections in the ‘real’ world, Bastian’s world, are printed in italics and are interspersed throughout the larger narrative of Atreyu’s journey. Occasionally, I found these Bastian-clips annoying – both in terms of the distraction and Bastian’s internal commentary.

The second, larger part of the story concerns Bastian (now transformed into a handsome demigod) becoming part of the story he’s been reading and making/remaking/discovering the land of Fantastica. This three-way ambiguity about Bastian’s role is an interesting metaphor for what happens when people read stories – do we simply discover what the author has given us, or do we create something unique in our own minds – or is it a bit of both? It also contains a warning about losing oneself in a fantasy world – just like Bastian.

Although the initial section of this latter half of the novel is a little boring (Bastian seems to spend a lot of time enjoying the wonders of Fantastica), once some conflict is introduced it quickly becomes the most interesting part of the book. The more Bastian exercises his godlike powers to create the world he is exploring, the more arrogant he becomes and the more he forgets the life of the shy, chubby schoolboy he used to have. Ultimately, Bastian must rediscover himself before he loses himself completely.

The Neverending Story is excellently written – it has that sense of childlike wonder and vitality that marks The Lord of the Rings, but it’s more sophisticated than Tolkien’s masterwork. While the first part of the book was, for me, an exercise in spotting the differences between film and novel, the second part was much more engaging. Bastian’s physical journey and, more importantly, his psychological journey are both fascinating and moving.

There’s little doubt that The Neverending Story is a masterpiece of children’s and fantasy literature – especially if it can enthuse two people as different in tastes as me and my girlfriend.

Categories: Literature, Reviews
  1. tinxwinx
    26 July 2009 at 1:41 pm

    I am currently looking for a producer for The Neverending Story on stage at Javits Convention Center in New York City. Both an opera and ballet score have been composed by Siegfried Matthus. And Warner Bros. is producing The Neverending Story as a modern feature film with an original soundtrack. Please refer to my website for more details by following the link below.


  2. 31 July 2009 at 4:19 pm

    Unfortunately, your website doesn’t seem to work.

    • 1 August 2009 at 3:26 am

      My server might have been down, but it’s up now. Click on Auryn and “Next Page” at the bottom. There are 3.

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