Die unendliche Geschichte

by Michael Ende

Paperback, 1990



Call number

GN 4450 G389



München: Dt. Taschenbuch-Verl.


Shy, awkward Bastian is amazed to discover that he has become a character in the mysterious book he is reading and that he has an important mission to fulfill.

User reviews

LibraryThing member avidmom
I said I wanted to read more adventurously this year and I don’t think anything could have fit the bill better than this particular book. I’ve had a rather long adventure of my own with this particular story. It started in the mid-80s when my cousin sat me in front of a tiny television set and
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insisted – no, demanded! – that I watch this movie called The Neverending Story. I was skeptical at first (I was in my early 20s and too old for silly children’s movies, for heaven sakes!) but The Neverending Story soon became one of my favorite movies. A few years later I happened to see the book in one of our local bookstores. That was more than 20 years ago and the book has sat on my shelves – unread – until recently. A few months ago I was lurking on one of Richardderus new threads and I saw this quote:

“If you have never spent whole afternoons with burning ears and rumpled hair, forgetting the world around you over a book, forgetting cold and hunger--
If you have never read secretly under the bedclothes with a flashlight, because your father or mother or some other well-meaning person has switched off the lamp on the plausible ground that it was time to sleep because you had to get up so early--
If you have never wept bitter tears because a wonderful story has come to an end and you must take your leave of the characters with whom you have shared so many adventures, whom you have loved and admired, for whom you have hoped and feared, and without whose company life seems empty and meaningless--
If such things have not been part of your own experience, you probably won't understand what Bastian did next.”
― Michael Ende

I had no idea who Michael Ende was but I knew who Bastian was and I knew what book that passage came from, even though I had never read it. Obviously, it was time to read this book that had been hanging around for over two decades now.

This is the typical “Hero goes on a Quest” story with a bit of a twist. The adventure starts out in a bookstore and for the first half of the book we read about someone else reading. (What a deal! Two stories in one!) And that is quite the adventure. The “real” adventure, though, starts in the second half of the book. It seems to me that Michael Ende took all the elements of fantasy and rearranged them in the most brilliant way. So many fantastical creatures are here they are too numerous to count. There are battles and knights and gorgeous kingdoms. At times reading this reminded me of the Chronicles of Narnia as tried and true Christian symbols appear here also: a Lion, a double-edged sword, a fountain that contains the Water of Life, even a Savior who rides on a donkey and stays at an inn! The Neverending Story is not a Christian allegory though. Knowing that Michael Ende was German gave some scenes and sentences a deeper meaning and they seemed to be allegorical to Germany (particularly the time period between WWI and WWII).

The Neverending Story is by no means a Christian or German historical allegory though. It’s an homage to reading, words and stories and imagination. It's also about the connection between creativity and spirituality. It is pure fantasy and adventure; it’s deep philosophical thought and psychology. It’s fun and absolute pure escape. It’s none of those things mentioned above and all of those things at once.

The writing here is simple and beautiful; I felt as if someone were actually telling me the story and picking up this book did feel, quite literally, like stepping over the threshold and entering another world.

Or worlds.
It was quite Something.
Fantastic, even.
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LibraryThing member mybookshelf
As this story begins, Bastian Balthazar Bux runs into a bookstore to escape his tormenting classmates. Here he encounters “the book of books!” – The Neverending Story. In this amazing book, Bastian reads about the magical land of Fantastica, the troubles it faces, and the hero Atreyu, who
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alone can find a cure for its ailing Childlike Empress. Suddenly, incredibly, Bastian finds himself transported to Fantastica, with the power of his imagination alone sustaining the rebirth of the realm.

Bastian and Atreyu are opposites in almost every way, initially their only similarity being that they are both boys of a similar age. Over the course of the story, however, they each grow to admire the unique qualities of the other, becoming loyal friends, and growing to be more like each other.

Separately, and at times together, the two boys range throughout the vast land of Fantastica, encountering joys and dangers, friends and enemies. They meet a huge variety of species of folk and beasts, and some which fall into neither category. They travel through every imaginable type of terrain, each boy on his separate quest: Atreyu to save Fantastica by bringing Bastian to it, and Bastian to re-create Fantastica by imagining new stories and history for it.

In the story, imagination is a powerful gift. The inhabitants of Fantastica spend some time lamenting the decline of imagination amongst humankind on earth. Consequently, this book is a gift for any imaginative reader, full of vivid descriptions of new, fantastical creatures and settings. It seems unavoidable for the reader to picture precisely what is going on at any given moment, whether that is Bastian reading avidly in the attic, or Atreyu arguing with Morla the Aged One in the Swamps of Sadness.

There is some magic and spell-casting in the story, but it is clear that by far the most powerful force in Fantastica (and outside of it) is the ability to tell stories. Eventually, it is necessary for Bastian to return home, but, by the time he is willing to do so, he is no longer able to, having lost all his memories of what he once was. Luckily, his counterpart Atreyu has remembered all Bastian’s stories of home, and is finally able to compensate Bastian for some of the stories he has gifted to Fantastica.

The story is marvellously detailed, and the pieces fit together astonishingly well. There is no inconsistency, and everything that happens contributes something to the development of the plot and /or characters. One small example of the excellence of its structure is that the book is 26 chapters long, each chapter beginning with a successive letter of the alphabet!

This book is perfect, and everyone deserves to have their life enriched by reading it, or by having it read to them. I would particularly recommend it for imaginative people aged nine and up.
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LibraryThing member andreablythe
Bastian is a fat, ordinary boy, who is always picked on by his fellow students and ignored by his father. Escaping a band of bullies, Bastian slams into a books store. Inside is a grumpy old man is reading a strange book with two snakes curling around each other eating each other's tails -- The
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Neverending Story. Drawn to the book, Bastian steals it when the man's back is turned. He runs to the attic of his school and begins reading. As he follows a young hunter's journey to save the Childlike Empress, Bastian is surprised to discover that he is drawn more and more into book itself, into a world that is very much real.

I always loved the movie as a kid and I still love it now. I wanted to hang out with Atreyu, the hunter, and ride Falcor, the Luck Dragon. I wanted to visit this dangerous beautiful world in which a childlike empress was in charge of everything. I even liked the subpar sequel with the super cute Jonathan Brandis as lead.

As is to be expected the book has far more subtlety and depth than the movie. Though I was surprised to find that both movies were adapted from the book with the end of the first movie being the midpoint of the book.

The childlike empress is much so much more in the book, closer to the spiritual soul of Fantastica. She loves everyone and everything equally, including those considered evil by other, because all has a purpose and a place to her. Atreyu is even more steadfast and brave, and Falcor is beautiful and far less creepy.

Bastian's journey throughout The Neverending Story becomes more of a spiritual quest in the book than the simplified adventure that the movies (especially the sequel) present. He does have many grand adventures, but as he looses his memory, he loses a part of himself. He rises and falls, does grand deeds and fails, and in the end he must find his way back home.

This is really a brilliant story, and I wish I had had the chance to read it before seeing the movies that affected me so much and left such an imprint on my mind. I still the love the movies for what they are and as a part of my childhood nostalgia, but the book is amazing. I almost wish it really was never ending.
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LibraryThing member Cecrow
Having seen the movie when I was a kid, I became curious about the book after hearing the movie portrayed only half the story. While the movie ended at a logical point, it only portrays one face of the coin. The second (non-delineated) half relates the tale of Bastian's exploration of Fantastica. I
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was ready to critique the first hundred pages after he names the Empress for being rather aimless, until Atreyu points out exactly this problem and it was revealed to be a key aspect of the story.

Clearly metaphor is at work in this novel, but it's open to interpretation. The novel might be defending the value of imagination, or of fantastical literature more specifically. The first half seems to extol the virtues of reading it, while the second explores the virtues of exploring and/or creating it. Maybe it's all of the above. The satisfying ending serves as an opposing bookend for the beginning, bringing the tale full circle.

If you enjoyed the movie and its theme then you owe it to yourself to read this novel, and especially if you consider yourself a fan of fantasy literature.
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LibraryThing member EikaiwaCafe
"The Neverending Story" has a special place in the heart of any child of the 80's, thanks to the wonderful movie. I wonder how many of those young children decided to pick up the book when they got a bit older. I know I did! Before I go onto the actual review of the book, I'd like to take a moment
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to say that the edition I have, the "Dutton's Children's Books" hardcover edition, is a labor of love with bi-colored texts, a sort of deep maroon-red for the parts of the story that take place in the human world, and a Christmasy-green for the parts of the story that take place in Fantastica (rather than Fantasia, as it was called in the movie). Both colors are very easy on the eyes and make the book just a little more special. The first page of each chapter is filled with a woodblock print-like depiction of the first letter of the first word of the chapter, again in the same red and green inks, and surrounded by images from scenes of the chapter. I definitely recommend picking up this particular edition of the book!

As for the story itself, fans of the movie will be in for a big surprise. While the book does start with Bastian's escaping bullies by ducking into a used book shop, swiping a book, and hiding away in the attic of his school to read about the Adventures of Atreyu as he tries to discover the reason for the Childlike Empress' illness and the spreading of the Nothingness, and Bastian's giving her a new name (though with a very clever, but much longer conclusion, as the Childlike Empress herself goes on a small adventure to force Bastian's hand), saving her and Fantastica... this is not the end of the novel, but only the middle point in it.

However, I really think that it was a very wise decision to end the movie here (I even appreciate the scenes of Atreyu and Bastian chasing down the bullies on Artax and Falkor, despite going against the canon of the novel). Why? I have three reasons. First, the second half of the book follows Bastian as he follows the course of his wishes to rebuild Fantastica, from within, rather than from without as he did in the movie. These adventures are much more grandiose than those of Atrayu, as Bastian has god-like powers to reshape the world at his every wish and whim, which he does in a myriad of ways. The Fantastica of the second half of the book would have required an Avatar-like movie to effectively realize.

Second, the story of Bastian's wishes is much darker than that of Atreyu's journey. Each wish Bastian makes causes him to lose a little more of his memories in the human world. He makes wish after wish that, on the surface, appear to be reasonable and virtuous, but which end up leading him on a darker and darker downward spiral. As he becomes strong, brave, and wise, he loses his memories of being pudgy, cowardly, and creative in his previous life. The loss of which causes each further step on a path towards ruin. As I child, I'm sure an actual depiction of the movie, especially the horror of the battle for the Ivory Tower... would have left me shaken and having nightmares for weeks!

Third, Bastian's story rambles so much more than Atreyu's. Where Atreyu went on a focused course to save Fantastica, Bastian has to stumble from wish to wish, in a much slower and less organized fashion. However, while the narrative falters and sputters at times to advance the story, the imagery and imagination displayed by Michael Ende (and wonderfully translated by Ralph Manheim), staggered my mind. From creatures, to plants, to geography, to reed boats that float on a sea of mist and a house that is constantly transforming from minute to minute even as you live in it... it is a feast for the imagination! I don't think I've ever read such a dense collection of such fantastic and wonderful concepts in my life. If you know where I can find such, please send me a recommendation!

So while the movie tells only half of the story (oh, the sequel movies are a mess, and I choose to ignore their existence) of the novel, it tells that half wonderfully... and the second half... I think that is a visual feast that best takes place in your own imagination! I highly recommend this book for the imagery, even if I do feel the narrative loses direction and intensity as it does stop to describe the world. That is why I chose to give it a 4.5 out of 5 rather than a full 5 stars.
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LibraryThing member edgeworth
Most of us have seen the movie, but I don't believe the book was ever published in Australia. I read a copy in my primary school library (must have slipped through the net) and then never ever saw a copy again, until I picked this one up in London.

Bastian Baltazhar Bux, a fat and bullied
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schoolchild (whom I visualised as Uter from the Simpsons, since the book is German) steals the Neverending Story from a bookstore and hides out in his school's attic to read it. It tells a tale of how Fantastica, a fabulous land of magical creatures and marvels, is slowly being consumed by the Nothing: a growing black cancer that causes things to simply stop existing. Atreyu, a ten-year old warrior from a tribe of Native American analogues, is sent on a quest to discover the source of this terrible scourge. Along the way he's lucky enough to make friends with FALKOR THE MOTHERFUCKING LUCKDRAGON, easily the most iconic creation of the series.

Reading along, Bastian is disturbed to find many apparent references to himself in the text, and (I doubt I'm giving anything away) eventually finds himself sucked into it. The second half of the book is considerably different from the first, with the Nothing defeated, and instead focuses on Bastian's own struggles in Fantastica. Despite being more character-driven and thematically deeper (the battle for the Ivory Tower, pitting Bastian against Atreyu, is particularly good) I think the first half is more engrossing.

I recall loving The Neverending Story when I was in Year 5, and it's definitely a great book for kids, but I don't think it holds up well for a returning adult. This doesn't mean it's not a good book; I've just outgrown the target audience for it. It's more a fairytale than a fantasy, full of bizarre people and places that display great imagination on Ende's part, but which don't fit together as a cohesive whole - a world of whimsy and imagination rather than a fully realised world. That's exactly what it's intended to be, of course - the value of imagination, stories and creation is a major theme of the book. As I said before, the best way to describe it is as a fairytale rather than a fantasy.

A good book, but one that I'd rather read to my hypothetical son than one that I'd read for myself.
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LibraryThing member crunchymunchkin
I was always an avid reader but Michael Ende's Neverending Story got me hooked for life. Easily one of my favorite books of all time, this one is definitely very close to my heart. I love everything about this book, including the ingenious way the chapters are arranged, as well as the different
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color fonts. To me, it is a fundamental book on how to read books: it schools the imagination. You'll never read another book in the same way again. After reading the Neverending Story, books teemed with new life for me. Themes were more thundering, characters started breathing, and a grand evolution occurred: words become worlds.
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LibraryThing member aethercowboy
Following the year the Copyright Act of 1976 came into law, Michael Ende published the book he's most well known for in America: The Neverending Story, which spawned several adaptations, including a loosely connected movie trilogy, an animated series, and a TV miniseries, to name a few. If you've
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not heard of this story, then either you were born in the 21st century or have an aversion to children's fantasy.

The story follows a pasty, chubby kid named Bastian who, after stealing a book from one of those book stores that isn't around any more (you know, one's that sell books, and don't make you go thorough a labyrinth of pictures of Robert Pattonson or Nooks to get to those books), he locks himself in his school's attic and does what most children don't do at school anymore: read.

The story he reads is a tale of Fantastica, which is dying, because people don't care about fantasy and fairy tales anymore. They must solve this plague of Nothing, which is slowly consuming all of Fantastica, and slowly killing their magnate, the Childlike Empress. Bastian reads as the boy warrior Atreyu and his trusty luck dragon Falkor search for the cure. And, well, that's the first half of the book. If you've seen the film adaptations, know this: the second film covers the second half of the book, somewhat. I didn't like the second film, and the second half of the book gave me that same feeling that I got when I saw Hayden Christiansen playing Anikin Skywalker, and making completely idiotic mistakes with every step he took.

I liked the book in the end though, and I felt that it had some pretty nasty things to say against strict copyright laws (at least, in an allegorical sort of way), and would be struck by total irony if the German publisher AVAinternational GmbH decided to be a strict copyright cop on a book that is, at it's core, about there being no true ownership of ideas and the expressions thereof. To date, I haven't heard of this company being overly aggressive, which, I hope is a good sign for them.

This book is classical fantasy (that is, not epic/realist/high) that is well worth reading by fans of all genres of fantasy as well as those looking for a great story to read. Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member hippietrail
This book starts off as quite easy to read for learners of German, but unfortunately it got too hard at some point and I put it aside. By that point I had already discovered that the English translator took quite a few liberties in a misguided attempt to "improve" the story. I recommend reading in
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the original German if possible.
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LibraryThing member nesum
So this will be my 100th review! To decided to find a book that has really meant a lot to me to review for this occasion, and The Neverending Story came to mind. I don't know what caused me to pick this book up. Perhaps it was the cover. Perhaps, as what happened with Bastian, there was just some
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force that drew me. Of course I had seen the movies, and they interested me, but I had a sense that the world described herein was so much more deep than the movies had suggested.

It is.

There have been few books to set my imagination ablaze so thoroughly as this one. I was transfixed by the ideas, the mystery, and the depth here. Every rock seemed to have a story, and each story drifted off into infinity. It is hopeless to tell all the tales of this place, and so often Ende masterfully whets our appetite with one story, only to tell us that it is a story for another time.

When it was over, I was satisfied and hungry for more at the same time. How often can you say that about a book? I can honestly think of no higher praise.
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LibraryThing member konrad.katie
A great book for any book lover out there. I picked up a German edition with lovely duo-colored pages and thoroughly enjoyed both the visual and imaginative beauty of the story.

Another great book by Ende is "Momo". Check it out. Now!
LibraryThing member cedargrove
Mixed Emotions

This is a brilliant classical fantasy novel, the story of a boy sent on a quest to save his world, linked inextricably with the involvement of the boy reading about the hero's journey. The intertwining of the two is cleverly written so that neither interrupts the flow of the other.
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However, then the reader becomes a part of the story of the world about which he's reading, something in the style and quality of the writing changes... and for me as a reader, whether this was a deliberate device employed by the author, this proved to somewhat dampen the enjoyment of the story I had experienced during the first part of the book.

The first half of the book - the part upon which they based the movie of the same name - is fast paced, beautifully described and evocative, where the characters seem so real they easily pull you into the story. It is a fast read, one which you can't put down.

The second half of the book slows to a crawl, with sedentary and didactic lessons in morality couched within the admittedly striking visual descriptions, but it's hard going, even though - as emotionally invested as the reader becomes in the lives and events of Fantastica - you want to keep reading to the end. In spite of this, I would still recommend to anyone to read this book, if only for the inspirations kindled, and the delights shared through the early parts of this book.
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LibraryThing member Hedgepeth
One of the coolest books ever. Especially the "party edition" with its two color inking. And it dares to ask that still unanswered question -- "Why don't characters in books need to go to the bathroom?"
LibraryThing member punkypower
When I got my copy of the "Neverending Story" in, I dove for it right away. I had been dying to read it forever. But it's not what was in it that first grabbed my attention. The print is in two different colors: a beautiful maroon for stories relating to the Human world, and a vivid emerald for
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anything relating to Fantasia. Furthermore, each chapter begins with a full-page with a single letter on it. (The first chapter "A", the last chapter "Z," you get the idea). Add that to the beautiful cover and simple, yet detailed illustrations, and you have one of the best put-together books ever written.

Now, on to the actual story. "The NeverEnding Story" tells the story of Bastian Balthaazar Bux, an outcast trying to get over the shock of losing his mother. One morning, while running from the local bullies, he ducks into a bookstore. He finds a book there that literally calls out to him. Even though his conscience tries to dissuede him, he steals the book and has the urge to read it right away! What he finds in the book is an adventure most unlike any of the others he is used to finding in books. Things seem SO real! He can practically SEE each character, SMELL the earth, TASTE the seedcakes, HEAR the wind, and FEEL the cold. As things go along, he knows it is silly, but he somehow feels a part of the NeverEnding story....

Although this book was written in the 1980's, it has definitely stood the test of time. Michael Ende proves himself as one of the top fantasy writers. Like Bastian, you can almost imagine you are there. If you love books like "Chronicles of Narnia," "Harry Potter," and "The Princess Bride," PLEASE do yourself a favor and read this book!
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LibraryThing member AliceaP
There are some books that I can re-read over and over again. The Neverending Story by Michael Ende is one of them. Some of you (or most of you who knows) are aware that the 1980's film of the same name was based off of a book. I can say with absolute confidence and conviction that the book is
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superior in every way. The story is centered around a little boy named Bastian Balthazar Bux (one of the most fantastic names in literature) who is not your typical hero. He's chubby and spends the majority of his time buried in books. He has a strained relationship with his father and he is bullied at school. This character is real. He is tangible. I empathized with this character on a lot of levels. He comes upon a book (I'm definitely leaving a lot out here on purpose) titled The Neverending Story and from this moment on he is changed forever. This isn't a regular book. It's alive. The reader (us) is taken on a journey with the reader (Bastian). We are introduced to the land of Fantastica with characters that range from the Childlike Empress who is the ruler of the land to Atreyu who is on an epic quest. This might be one of the first books that caused me to weep with grief...or maybe it's just the first one that I remember. Whatever the case, I still cry every single time I read this book and I try to read it once a year. It's an adventure story that is layered with magic, friendship, and self-discovery. There's a reason why it's one of my favorite books of all time.
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LibraryThing member bibliootje
A wonderful world of fantasy and imagination.
The Neverending story fascinated me as a kid
and still is one of my favourite books.
LibraryThing member myrie
i agree with the others here; one of my absolute faves, best fantasy book ever, best book ever, etc etc.
it´s in a league of it´s own. yay michael ende.

i actually thought this book was an entrance to Fantasia when I was 10. That´s how good this book is.

all in all wonderful.
LibraryThing member ladybug74
I had planned to read the local library's copy of this book and send this copy on to Dusties, but I decided to go ahead and read this one real quick before mailing it. I watched the movie adaptation of this book on TV several years ago and enjoyed it. In fact, reading this book makes me want to
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find a copy of the movie for my 10-year-old daughter, who I think will enjoy it. I also think she would enjoy this book if I could get her to read it, but she would only take one look at the length of it and give up. In the very beginning of this book, I wasn't so sure that I would like it. Once I got into it, though, it was great! I was reminded a bit of The Chronicles of Narnia, but I enjoyed this book even better than the Narnia series.
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LibraryThing member mighteq
People say the original German version is better; I can't read German so you're stuck with my review of the English one. I loved this book, and still do. It's a classic childhood book of mine and I'll continue to read it over and over again. The book is 100 times better than the movie, although the
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movie is great too.
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LibraryThing member arelenriel
This is a unique book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Oddly it translates from the German very well. Usually books written in German do not.
LibraryThing member heidialice
Bastian, a classic anti-hero, begins to read a strange book and finds himself drawn into the story, literally, in order to save their world and his.

This is an epic story of personal transformation, with strong adventure and world-building. The characters remain one-dimensional, but this does not
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really detract from the story, as their actions are always understandable. A good read and not too preachy.
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LibraryThing member birdy47
Reading this with my son. It's taking longer than I thought but we're both loving it.
LibraryThing member stipe168
first of all, MUCH better than the movie. second of all, one of the BEST BOOKS EVER. TOO MUCH happens in it to keep track of. you'll fly through it and love every second. believe me!
LibraryThing member soylentgreen23
This is possibly the book that got me hooked on books. I read it as a small child, and found it so thrillingly absorbing that the memory of it, and of reading it, has stayed with me and informed me throughout my life ever since.

Sure, it's a book for young adults, and it's fantastical, but it is
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also mature and respectful, and is the perfect book for a young boy to read, who wants to then go on and read more serious fiction. Hell, it almost got me interested in Shakespeare, it was that important.
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LibraryThing member worldsedge
I confess I felt I had to re-read this simply because my username is taken from the book. And I'm glad I did. Very well done, the story of Bastian, Atreyu, Falkor, the Childlike Empress (Moon Child) are all memorable characters, the land of Fantastica sticks with you, all that good stuff. The only
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thing that mars the book is that the pace is almost too frenetic, the characters coming too close to the unbelievable to really make this work a masterpiece. There's a hard-bound copy I've seen that is way out of my price range that use red and green font color, depending whether or not they're discussing Earth (which appears to be somehwere in industrial Germany circa 1970) or Fantastica. I guess I'm shallow enough that that might be enough to push me to a five star review.
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Original publication date

1979 (original German)
1983 (English translation)


3423107952 / 9783423107952
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