["The Neverending Story"] is full of fresh, imaginative invention, although, like all such modern works, it owes honorable debts to our heritage of myth, legend and fable. Originality, in such matters, lies in variations upon themes, embellishing ancient motifs with new details.
"The Neverending Story" has the classic element of the unexpected entry of a human child into a wholly other world, crossovers from which are a tricky problem. It combines mission and quest, laying the burden of overcoming evil and destruction upon the shoulders of an initially reluctant, unprepossessing hero….
Fantastica is threatened by Nothing. Vast holes of Nothing appear in the land, expanding, combining. Like a black hole, the Nothing sucks in anything that comes too close. Soon it will invade the very heart of the land, the Ivory Tower of the ruler of Fantastica, the Childlike Empress….
The adventures, the terrors to be met and mastered, the bravery and wit, the fumbles and bad mistakes (you know Bastian is going to unsheath that sword sometime) are suspensefully varied. The book's themes are decidedly enigmatic and lend the story its adult dimension….
I know people who are impervious or downright hostile to tales of this kind, who will rightly shun it. But if you like the genre, get your hands on the part of what we are assured is a Neverending Story beyond the covers of this or any other book.
Edmund Fuller, "Adventures in Fantastica," in The Wall Street Journal, February 14, 1984, p. 30.