Friday, April 17, 2015

Fiction Friday (36)

It's been ages since I posted a book review, mainly because I've have very little time to read of late. Over the past few weeks, I've been reading a book I've wanted to read for a long, long time. While I love getting to read something that has been on my list for a long time, there's also a bit of disappointment in that there is now one less story to look forward to. It's also rare that I go into a book with expectations, except in cases like this. Sometimes they live up to it, sometimes not. That is the joy of discovery and this was a trip I enjoyed. 

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

As a child of the '80s, I was one of the vast number of kids who fell in love with this magical story through the power of film. Though I haven't seen it since my childhood, the images have stayed with my imagination. I'd been meaning to read the novel for ages, and finally got a copy as a gift for my birthday and dove right in.

This is one of those books that feels like two books in one. It's no surprise that the movie only covers the first half of the book. The second half of the book essentially begins a new story. After Bastian saves Fantastica by giving the Childlike Empress her new name, he physically enters the story in which he was reading. The novel switches gears from an adventure of courage and suspense, the story of Atreyu and his luckdragon, into one of self-discovery where the reader follows Bastian as he navigates the temptations and dangers of sudden power.

Bastian is a shy kid, dealing with the loss of his mother and a father made distant by his grief. Like a lot of children in such situations, he escapes into stories. When he actually enters the story and realizes he can have every wish granted, he of course wishes to be everything he is not. He wishes to be brave, dashing, wise, and feared. But the more he wishes to be somebody else, the more he forgets who he is, and he forgets how to love.

From a writing point of view, it's a brave journey to take the main character on as he becomes more and more unlikable, until the concluding action of course where all is corrected. Though it lacks the scope of some other fantasy books, falling more in line with the likes of "The Last Unicorn" than "The Chronicles of Narnia" this is certainly one of those thoroughly enjoyable stories that will entertain all ages.

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