Thursday, April 28, 2016

Throwback Thursday Audiobook Review: The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

Original Pub. Date:  1979
Re-Release Date:  2012
Publisher:  Tantor Audio
Narrator:  Gerard Doyle
Length:  14 hrs
Format:  Audiobook
Source:  Hoopla

This was one of my favorite movies growing up - and I still love to watch it today.  I mean seriously, who doesn't want their own Falkor the Luck Dragon???  If you have kids, I hope that you will encourage them to read this book and watch the movie.

So we have dual protagonists in this story.  Initially we meet Sebastian, a ten year old boy who loves to read and make up his own stories. He absconds with a beautiful book titled The Neverending Story from an old book shop and hides away in the attic of the school in shame of his crime and in eagerness to read the book.  Sebastian is a bit of an odd duck, and will probably resonate with most of us introverts that had a bit of a nerdy side. He gets bullied for being chubby and talking to himself. He is feeling somewhat abandoned and unwanted at home, his dad is lost in grief over his wife's death. So Sebastian escapes into books and fantastical worlds - as many of us bibliophiles are wont to do.

Sebastian is sucked into the book, quite literally. While Bastian is reading about Atreju and his quest to save the Childlike Empress from being consumed by The Nothing, we start to see signs that Bastian is more than just a passive participant in the story. I loved Atréju and his beautiful horse, Artax... and those dang Swamps of Sadness kill me every time.  This first part of the story dealing with Atréju's quest was my favorite, and is also the subject of the first movie. I never saw the second movie, so Bastian traveling to and remaking Fantastica was all new to me. I loved that Fantastica was the land of dreams and fantasies, the landscape ever changing. The beasts and beings of Fantastica were as wonderful and varied as the landscape, and both really got my imagination churning.

There are several moral lessons to be learned by Bastian and the reader, including the latter part of the book where Bastian is struggling with whom to trust and often making the wrong choice. While it is clear to the reader who is good or evil, Bastian was too ensconced in making wishes to make objective evaluations. He ends up betraying a friend and falling subject to the plans of evil sorceress Xayide. By the end, Bastian has come full circle, returning to his father and owning up to his theft of the book from Mr. Coreander. I am glad that I took the time to finally read this fantasy classic, and now plan to order the movies and reminisce about the good ol' days.

The book did start to drag in the second half... I think because you don't realize how long it actually is when you start reading.  At 14 hours, I realized why the story was split in two for the movies. While I don't think anything could replace the original film, I would love to see this movie remade today with all the newer technology and CGI capabilities.