Author: Michael Ende, translated by Ralph Manheim
Date Published: First Published in 1979
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure
Page Count: 396 pages
Bastian Balthazar Bux is a child, who's lost his mother who one day is compelled to take a book from a small shop on his way to school. Knowing himself to be a thief, he hides in the attic of the school house and begins to read. Bastian, along with the audience is transported into the world of Fantastica, which has many different lifeforms, almost none of them human. But Fantastica is dying, The Nothing is taking it over and Bastian reads as Atreyu is sent by the Childlike Empress to find help for Fantastica. However, Bastian is much more important to the story than he initially realizes.
The first half of this story was amazing. It was, for the most part, just like the movie that I so loved in my childhood. Of course there were differences, but that is to be expected. However, the movie stopped after the first half of the book, so there was a whole different side to Fantasitca that I had not seen. Bastian becomes transported into Fantastica and must find his way out again, but not until he completely forgets himself first.
This is a book about a lonely child, torn by the death of his mother. His father is so eaten up by grief that he can hardly be bothered with Bastian. In Fantastica, Bastian wishes to make himself much different, and to give himself qualities he doesn't have, which is something that I think we all wish to do sometimes. Of course, the gem gives him the power to change himself, but not without consequence. Bastian nearly loses himself, but is saved by the only good friend he's ever known, Atreyu. Bastian comes back from Fantastica very different than before and his life is forever changed.
I really liked this book. Sure, I liked the first half a little better than the second half, but the ending was great. Brought a tear to my eye. This is truly an epic fantasy adventure that I think everyone should read. This will be a book that I stick on the shelf to read to my children one day. This book gets a solid 4 out of 5 stars!
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