Pros: Hilarity without equal; amusing story; fascinating characters, beautifully chilling
Rating: 5 out of 5
First posted 9/25/2000
“Good Omens” is the story of the end of the world, and of the antichrist, named Adam. It’s the story of a second-rate demon named Crowley, and a second-rate angel named Aziraphale, who are forced to work together to save humanity from the Ineffable Plan.
And “Good Omens” is so much more than that.
It spans the time from the Garden of Eden (at which Aziraphale handed off his impressive flaming sword to a couple of dispossessed mortals to keep them warm, and Crowley first decided that the name Crawly just wasn’t him), to the Apocalypse. You’ll meet the Four Horsemen (err, Three Horsemen and One Woman) and the Antichrist.
The Three Horsemen and One Woman
Scarlett is an arms dealer who decides to take on newspaper journalism for a while. Sable is a best-selling diet expert who’s diversifying into restaurants and all sorts of other sidelines. Mr. White is into toxic spills and nuclear accidents.
And there was Another. He was in the square in Kumbolaland. And he was in the restaurants. And he was in the fish, and in the air, and in the barrels of weedkiller. He was on the roads, and in houses, and in palaces, and in hovels.
I have never seen anyone turn such mythical, legendary, archetypal…apocalyptic…characters into such fascinating, amazing, personality-laden…people.
The Antichrist – well, he gets switched into the wrong family at birth by Sister Mary Loquacious of the Chattering Order of nuns (well, mostly Satanists, really). So he’s raised as a normal boy rather than the Antichrist. And he isn’t particularly eager to play along with anyone else’s Ineffable Plan.
Aziraphale and Crowley
Aziraphale and Crowley really should be enemies; they’re on the opposite sides of everything, after all. Demon and Angel – it’s hard to get more opposite than that. But they’ve had this sort of Arrangement going on for a while now:
The Enemy, of course. But an enemy for six thousand years now, which made him sort of a friend.
They tried not to interfere in each other’s activities, divvied up various towns in England so as to avoid irritating each other, stood in for each other when things got busy, and fed the ducks together. Somewhere in there, humanity changed them both, and they became a pair of rather unlikely saviors, racing to stop Armageddon from happening.
Pratchett is, in my opinion, one of the funniest writers out there. He comes up with the most hysterical turns of phrase, the oddest ways of putting things. His footnotes alone can have you in stitches.
Neil Gaiman is the master of angels, the architect of elegant mysteries of the universe. The words in this book may ring with Pratchett’s unique sense of humor, but their subjects reflect Gaiman’s convoluted thoughts. This book, for something so funny, addresses a lot of interesting concepts such as good and evil, predetermination, the differences and similarities between angels and demons, and so on.
You can read this book for the humor value without ever needing to worry about the amazing philosophy that wends its way through its pages. This book completely satisfies even without notice of the additional layers. But if you do take notice, if you do think about all of the amazing subjects that come up in this book, it’ll keep you occupied for a long long time. This book is truly beautiful in places, in ways that may well surprise you.
This book is a remarkably quick read. There are no thorny, thick, sludgy passages to slow you down. Just great humor, fascinating thoughts on the universe, and the most hysterical story ever. It’s also one of the very few books I’m content to read over and over and over. It never bores or irritates me. There’s always something new and amazing, and the jokes never pale.
Just make sure you buy a copy for anyone you’re likely to read it around. Otherwise they’ll go nuts – because trust me, you won’t be able to stop quoting bits at them:
“It izz written!” bellowed Beelzebub.
“But it might be written differently somewhere else,” said Crowley. “Where you can’t read it.”
“In bigger letters,” said Aziraphale.
“Underlined,” Crowley added.
“Twice,” suggested Aziraphale.