Good Omens: The Apocalypse Meets Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Image courtesy justjillsblog.files.wordpress.com.

They say that two heads are better than one.

They may be right on that score.

First published in 1990, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens is an apocalyptic fantasy novel that somehow manages to turn the end of the world into a strange and hilarious romp. Crowley, a demon, and Aziraphale, an angel, become unlikely partners in a quest to prevent the impending reckoning. Why? Because they’ve actually grown to like Earth the way it is (Crowley, in particular, has quite the thing for fast cars and the classic rock band Queen). The duo scours Earth for the Antichrist, who, because of a mixup at birth, doesn’t actually know he’s the Antichrist. Throw in a book of perfect prophecies, a witch hunter, and a modern day witch, and you get Good Omens.

I’ve read a ton by Neil Gaiman and nothing by Terry Pratchett. However, I was pleased to find that their tones, styles, and voices blend together very well, to the point that you forget this book wasn’t written by one man, whose name might be Neilterry Pratchettgaiman. The prose is elegant and always funny, and the authors easily balance the story arcs of numerous characters.

Among all those characters, Crowley is certainly my favorite. What makes him great is how realistic he is: if there was a demon on earth, that demon would be just like Crowley. Furthermore, he represents a very interesting take on the demonic. After all, Crowley is a demon, but we never see him do anything particularly evil. This contrary behavior refers back to the main question that seems to come up again and again throughout the novel: What is evil? For that matter, what is good? And, perhaps most importantly, do such absolutes even exist?

This brings me to my next point: Good Omens is probably one of the smartest, most insightful books you’ll ever read on the subject of religion. Sometimes critics have a tendency to dismiss comical works simply because they make an audience laugh rather than cry–a tendency which I think is criminal. In my opinion, Good Omens is right up there with Milton’s Paradise Lost, Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, and Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita when it comes to literature about religion and the demonic.

Furthermore, the humor of this novel underscores the themes as a whole, being that belief, morality, and even life itself are sometimes parodies of what they’re supposed to be. It’s an absolutely brilliant novel by a couple of absolutely brilliant guys.

Good Omens deftly challenges age-old notions of right and wrong with all the witty humor one would expect from Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. One of the best books I read over the summer–or ever.

Rating: 9/10

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