Friday, May 2, 2014

Book Review: Good Omens by Pratchett and Gaiman

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

After reading lots of post-apocalyptic stories, it's nice for me to read one about the apocalypse. Good Omens tells the story of the coming of the Anti-Christ. Everyone who is in the know assumes it will be just like the book of Revelation. In the know are two angels (one working for Heaven and the other for Hell) as well as the four horsemen of the Apocalypse (who kill time before meeting up with the Anti-Christ at Armageddon by causing trouble for people). The ineffable plan of God is about to come to fruition, time is on the verge of ending.

But the plan goes awry. Crowley (Hell's angel, who used to be called Crawley because he was the snake who tempted Adam and Eve out of Paradise) is supposed to swap the infant son of Satan for the son of an American diplomat, but there's a mix-up in the nursery that goes unnoticed. Aziraphale (Heaven's angel, who gave his flaming sword to Adam and Eve when they left Paradise because it was about to rain) has an agreement with Crowley. They have both been living on the earth long enough to have an affection for humans and all the neat stuff they have invented. Most importantly, they've started to latch on to free will, not only trying to get people to do good or evil on their own, but also starting to do a bit of work for each other when it's convenient and not too obviously contrary to their superiors' orders. Things are complicated for the angels.

The real Anti-Christ was raised as a normal child called Adam Young. He has some strange influence over other people but is basically a good boy most of the time. He has a group of friends in his small English town who play the usual games and are opposed by another group of local kids, a rival gang if you will.

Also in the mix is Anathema Device, a young women descended from Agnes Nutter, a seventeenth century witch noted for her accurate (though obscure) prophecies. Those prophecies involve the end times and her family members. The predictions are hard to interpret before the fact, however, so she runs around a bit trying to put two and two together before the world comes apart.

All this might sound like a serious drama, but in the hands of Pratchett and Gaiman, it's much more of a mad cap adventure. Crowley and Aziraphale are buddies trying to keep things going a little bit longer on earth. If the plan is really ineffable, who's to say the world isn't supposed to end now? The book has the dry, British sense of humor found in Douglas Adams's works or Monty Python. It is quite delightful and had me laughing out loud in several spots.

Highly recommended.

Also, I read this because Julie and Scott discussed it on A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast. Check out their fun comments!

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