Oct 23, 2011

#TheList, No. 886: The Neverending Story

I still haven't seen the movie, but now that I've read the book I understand this clip a little more:

The Neverending Story is a pretty intricate and intense fantasy tale that I think most pre-teens, particularly boys if I want to subscribe to gender bias and books, would enjoy.  Apparently the movie only covers the first half of the book.  The author, Michael Ende, filed a lawsuit because he wanted them to change the movie title as it wasn't an accurate representation of his work, but he lost.  Go figure.  Anyway, if you've only seen the movie and want to know what happens after...just read the book.  You should do that for all things anyway.  But I digress.  

The gist of the story is Bastian, a lonely and chubby schoolboy, steals a book called "The Neverending Story" from a cute little bookshop, and skips school to read it.  He literally gets caught up in the story, transferring himself to the world of Fantastica, where he's given the power to write/create "The Neverending Story."  What follows is his growth as a strong leader and inevitable demise as someone with too much power.  

The book has bits that could appeal to a plethora of readers: lonely child who just wants to be loved, sword fights, knights, magical gems, flying dragons, and a bunch of fun/dangerous/annoying creatures.  Good times!  The story is a little confusing, especially because it contains that story within a story nonsense and puts pressure on the reader to go constantly back and forth between two worlds and then put them together, so I would definitely recommend this to older children or advanced readers.

I'm not a huge fan of fantasy, nor do I really understand all of the rules that correspond with the genre.  I'm familiar with the Monomyth or "Hero's Journey," but more in terms of Harry Potter, Ender's Game, and Star Wars.  I definitely recognized elements of the HJ in The Neverending Story, particularly the use of the anti hero in the second half of the tale, which was interesting.  

But even though the story is definitely well written, thought-out, and incorporates the HJ in the story, my main problem is the reliance on the "and no one knows what happened" writing.  I just think it's just lazy.  It's the mechanism Ms. Meyer turned to all the time (Twilight).  The novel is so intricate...you couldn't think of anything else to put there?  Maybe once or even twice, but it happened to many times throughout the novel.  I was thinking that this could be a reflection of how the "creators" of "The Neverending Story" within the novel left gaps in their stories which makes more sense if you've read the book, and if that's the case, then that's pretty interesting writing.  But something felt off about it while I was reading. 

Regardless, it's a pretty interesting read and if you like fantasy, give it a go.

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