I’m listening to Queen while writing this review, because it’s only right. (Not on cassette, though, sorry Crowley.)
Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s collaborative novel Good Omens follows angel Aziraphale and demon Crowley who, over the thousands of years they’ve known each other, have become close despite their differences. But Armageddon is fast approaching, which is the last thing either of them wants. Together, they decide to keep an eye on the Antichrist, in the hopes that they can avert the end and continue their lives on earth—at least, that’s the plan until they discover the Antichrist is missing. Meanwhile, witch Anathema unravels the prophecies of Agnes Nutter, which happen to be the only correct apocalyptic predictions. And the Four Horsemen are unleashed onto earth.
The characters are amazing, particularly Aziraphale and Crowley. They make a fantastic team, with delightful personalities, an affectionate relationship, and sharp banter. Other characters like Anathema, Newt, Shadwell, and Adam are also well-written and enjoyable to read about. And Gaiman and Pratchett’s interpretation of the Four Horsemen is especially brilliant. I loved the entire cast.
This is a strange story with lots of British humor, so if you don’t like that kind of thing, you probably won’t like this much. However, I found its dry wit immensely entertaining. It’s a cheeky dark comedy, rather like a funny, modern day Paradise Lost (in that they’re both Biblical fanfiction). The different characters seem to follow, for much of the book, separate storylines, which feels slightly disjointed at first. However, at the end, everything converges satisfactorily. Gaiman and Pratchett craft a clever tale, weaving the separate threads together well.
Probably my favorite aspect of this novel was the commentary and condemnation of what mankind has done to the environment. The substitution of Pollution for Pestilence as one of the Horsemen was perfect to help illustrate this, as is Adam’s rant toward the end. It’s fascinating to see how even twenty-ish years ago, Gaiman and Pratchett felt such anxiety about the future of our earth, when I feel the same way, if not worse, now.
Also, Adam’s choice made at the end (I’ll be vague for those who haven’t read this yet) is so spectacular—an example of exercising free will even in some kind of divine plan. This was without doubt one of my favorite scenes.
In the end, Good Omens is a strange, marvelous, fascinating book. The characters, especially the main two, are marvelous. The complex, multifaceted plot allows for many perspectives of the current state of the world, as well as its impending end. There’s a sense of doom and nihilism throughout this story, but it’s an oddly, ineffably entertaining journey at the same time. This certainly won’t be a book for everyone, but it worked for me. (I hope the show is good!)
Overall rating: 9/10