In this classic fantasy novel from author Michael Ende, small and insignificant Bastian Balthazar Bux is nobody's idea of a hero, least of all his own. Then, through the pages of an ancient, mysterious book, he discovers the enchanted world of Fantastica, and only Bastian himself can save the fairy people who live there. 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.
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First of all, please don’t judge this book on its movies. The book is split into two movies. While I liked the first movie (which was close to the book), I thought the second movie (which wasn’t close at all) was a bit of a joke. I also felt like Bastian in the movie was almost useless, and I wanted a better conclusion.
The book is a completely different matter. Never before have I cared so much about a character in a book. Bastian is a self-conscious, unpopular kid who makes up stories all the time and wants nothing more than to escape the humdrum of life to live in fantasy. I was exactly the same as a kid, and I read every fantasy book I could get my hands on. When I couldn’t find the story I wanted, I made it up. Sometimes, I wanted to hug Bastian, and sometimes I wanted to smack his stupid face, because he could be such an idiot, but he just wanted to help everyone.
My favorite part, and the one that made me care about him, was when Bastian said that he didn’t like books that tried to convince him that it was real; he wanted pure fantasy. Life was full of boringness. Nobody understood why I never read anything but fantasy, and the less believable, the more I wanted to get lost in it. And that is exactly what this book gave me. It is absolutely, utter fantasy. It’s a journey.
I liked Atreyu as well, as he is consistently brave and heroic, yet mortal, throughout. There wasn’t a single character or creature that I thought was unnecessary or underplayed. I disliked a number of them, but they made the story better. The writing was excellent, especially for a book translated from German. The scenes were well-done.
The narrator did this book justice. Except for Atreyu and Bastian, I could always tell everyone apart. Again, there were voices I didn’t like, but that was because of the characters/creatures themselves. He even did the rhyming, poetry, and singing better than I’ve ever heard from an audiobook. Fortunately, there was no music in the background. There were some times when the characters were whispering when I had to sit there with my thumb on the volume rocker, turning it up and down, but the story was just too good to let that bother me.
Overall, in the top ten books I’ve ever read in my entire life. It doesn’t matter if this book is meant for children, because it reminds me of the utter freedom I felt when I was a child and discovered a masterpiece of fantasy.