So I wanted to publish this post yesterday, but my computer and I weren’t on the best speaking terms. We have since resolved that issue.
And the computer has since then come along to my way of thinking. So sorry if I’m a day behind, but better late than never!
Some books you read and you just know that there was no way this book could ever exist unless the author grew up as a huge fan of reading.
Such as Matilda by Roald Dahl. Only someone who grew up reading could create a character that gave a voice to all us bibliophiles out there.
Or Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Only someone who truly loved to read could create the most dismal future, a time when books are outlawed and destroyed. The book is full of glimpses into what might actually happen, unless we take the time to read and value the thoughts and creations found between the pages.
Well The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende, is definitely one of those books.
The book was first published in 1979 and then translated into English in 1983. As this is it anniversary, thankfully pointed out by Google, I thought it deserved no less than a post by me.
The story was such a big part of my childhood, with book and film.
So the book begins with young Bastian Balthazar Bux; a shy, awkward, introvert:
Who has been grieving over the loss of his mother and feels disconnected from his father.
He doesn’t really have any friends and is bullied at school. The one thing that Bastian does have is his books.
With their help he is able to escape reality:
And here is reason number one why this book is awesome and proof, author Ende must have been a reader; he just understands us so well. I mean even today I still like to escape my reality with a good book:
Anyways, so Bastian is being chased by bullies when he runs into a bookstore owned by Carl Conrad Coreander. While hiding out, he spots the book The Neverending Story.
Bastian just has to have the book, but the ornery shop owner doesn’t seem interested in the idea of selling, and such a book that would be far too expensive. So Bastian does something he has never done before, he steals it.
He runs up to school, deciding to hide away in the attic, reading the story and being thrust into the world of Fantastica (Fantasia in the film).
Fantastica is falling apart. The dark nothing is destroying it, piece by piece until it will fade away and there will be nothing left. Only one thing can save them; the childlike empress has chosen Atreyu, a native of the plains, to search throughout Fantastica to discover what can be done. As Bastian reads, he becomes more and more involved with the characters. So wrapped up in the book he stays throughout all his periods, in the cold, all the while starving.
Or class. Or lunch. Or anything!
But that’s silly. They aren’t real people.
But yet, the characters do seem real. And it almost seems as if they know he exists and is part of the journey with them.
When Atreyu is traveling he hears what the salvation of Fantastica is:
Born of the Word, the children of man,
Or humans, as they’re sometimes called,
Have had the gift of giving names
Ever since the worlds began,
In every age it’s they who gave
The Childlike Empress life,
For wondrous new names have the power to save.
But now for many and many a day,
No human has visited Fantastica,
For they no longer know the way.
They have forgotten how real we are,
They don’t believe in us anymore.
Oh, if only one child of man would come,
Oh, then at last the thing would be done.”
But where to find such a human child?
Atreyu continues on his journeys, getting help from Falkor, the luck dragon.
One of the best parts of the book, at least I think so, is when Atreyu faces Gmork, the werewolf. Gmork has become an agent of the Nothing, trying to destroy Fantastica and along with it the human world. Without Fantastica, the world is filled with lies instead of truth, despair instead of hope, destruction instead of creation; pretty much containing nothing.
I love this part as it shows why stories and books are so important. They help us create, they give us hope, dreams, ideas, etc. We need stories, we need hope, we need it as much as we need life.
And we need to start reading at a young age; so we can have the foundations to fight against all the darkness we will face as we grew older.
So Atreyu returns to the Empress, defeated. He has no way to stop the nothing. He has failed.
But the empress is not upset at all. In fact, she says that Atreyu has fulfilled his mission. He has brought a human child here through all his adventures. And she is talking about Bastian!
The reader has been called into the story? And not just called, but the hero! How cool is that! And how awesome if that could happen. Can you just imagine if the characters started talking to you in the middle of your favorite story?
So cool, I want it to be true.
This is my favorite part of the book, the second half isn’t as strong (in my opinion) as the first half. But still one great book.
The movie was just as amazing. Now they did make changes, but I thought it kept the soul and heart of the book. I used to watch it over and over.
Even now I cannot think or say the words “Neverending Story” without singing them like in the film’s song.
I recently showed the film to my niece and realized I am not only like Bastian, but Coreander. Yes, I have the soul of an old curmudgeon who doesn’t like the youth’s fascination with technology rather than books.
The rest of the story is just as beautiful, fascinating, adventurous, and powerful. And don’t forget the end of the film when the childlike Empress is talking right to you. Shivers run up and down my spine, it is so good.
I mean I feel like she is talking right to me!
The other movies I didn’t really enjoy, but that first one was a true winner.
So there you have it. One amazing book that I am glad existed to become a part of my childhood, in both print and on the screen.
And you can bet your boots I will most definitely be checking out the film Sunday when they rerelease it in theaters. Don’t worry childlike Empress, Fantastic/Fantasia will always exist as long as I am alive!
For more on The Neverending Story, go to The Neverending Story
For more anniversary posts, go to Here’s to Another Year
For more book-filled posts, go to A World of Teas
For more Roald Dahl, go to We Shall Rule the World!
For more Ray Bradbury, go to Baby Jane Austen
For more Ernest Hemingway, go to Fiction or Reality? I Choose Fiction
For more Markus Zusak, go to Portrait of a Fangirl
For more Richard Marek, go to Crazy Book Lady