I love this book! The first time I came across it, it was hidden in a corner in a bookstore. It cried out to me. I had to take it home. I laughed so hard that I cried, more than once. I loved it so much I gave it away. Which is an extraordinarily difficult thing for me to do. But it wanted to be shared, and I can't deny a book its destiny. My brain, however, is not so capable of release. I had to buy it again. And read it over and over and over. Until I gave it to my boyfriend, before we were dating. And still, I read it at his house. When he forgot and gave it back to me, I cruelly didn't correct him. (It came back to me! It must be fate!) Now, there's a new edition out, with comments by the authors. I have to go get it.
I'm obsessed. It's unhealthy. I know. Come join me. It's the best apocalypse you'll ever survive.
Crowley and Aziraphale have been locked in the battle between good and evil since, well, at least the beginning of time. In fact, it's been so long that it's become more of a debate then a battle. Actually more of a conversation. Aziraphale is an angel, and part-time rare bookseller. It's a front; he really collects the books for himself. Crowley is sort of a fallen angel; well, as the book says "an angel who did not so much fall as saunter vaguely downward". So he's a demon, ish. Mostly he's an instigator. These two have been enemies for so long that they've become pretty good friends.
But that's all going to end. Everything is going to end. Next Saturday. That's when the apocalypse has been scheduled for. The final battle between good and evil. What's an angel, or demon, to do when it comes time to end the world, but they really don't want to?
The apocalypse is aided and thwarted, alternately, by angels, demons, and an assortment of other ridiculous, hilarious, pitiful characters. Newton Pulsifer, Witchfinder, armed with a stickpin. Anathema Device, Witch and owner of the only accurate book of prophecy to ever be written, until she lost it. Agnes Nutter, author of said book, semi-illiterate, or maybe just a really bad speller, and dead. The Chattering Order of St. Beryl, satanic nuns who really just like to wear black. Dog, who was, or is, or should have been a hellhound. Adam, the anti-christ, depending on how the day goes. There's a lot more, but I don't want to ruin the fun. Let's just say that good, evil, and prophecy are all ideas that leave a lot of room for interpretation. And I'll never leave music in my car for too long again.
Reviewed by: Carrie Spellman
If I were to say that, even now, nearly 15 years after I first read it, this book is still one of my favourite reads ever, you will probably get some idea of the direction this review will go. Just imagine, if William Friedkin had made a film of the Just William books - that's what this book is like.
The mix of Pratchett and Gaiman is pretty much flawless, with all the sparky wordplay and fun of the former mixed with the mordant, grim wit of the latter. Put together they spark, like Crowley and Aziriphale, even though they really shouldn't.
The highlights are too numerous and fine to count, but it's a good sign when there's a laugh on almost every page and even the footnotes are a riot; the beginning of the book is a prime example, the Earth's a Libra indeed...
I think this is probably one of those books that everyone should read at some point or other and one that is filled with a great deal of love and a sense of fun about the genre and characters it parodies so relentlessly.
on 21 July 2006
If I had a favourite book, it would be this one. Yes, I am a fan of Pratchett's (and Gaiman's) other work, but this one really stands out as something a bit different, and hopefully might appeal to the many people who dismiss his work as being all about wizards, witches, dragons and all that rubbish - they are missing the point, as what his books are really about is people and the stupid (and not so stupid) things they do, but never mind.
I would imagine that if you were the kind of person who found Monty Python's Life of Brian offensive, then your reaction would be similar to Good Omens, as it does poke fun at a lot of the notions of the Chistian religion (and astrology, and satanists, and Americans, and McDonalds, and Milton Keynes, and, well pretty much everything really). On the other hand, if you like that kind of humour, then I think you would enjoy Good Omens.
The basic plot is that the Antichrist has arrived on earth, but owing to a mess up at the hospital, ends up in Tadfield, a small town in England, instead of being brought up as the son of the American Cultural Attache. Crowley (a demon - fallen angel - hence the title of the review, for those who didn't get it) and Aziraphale (an angel), are searching for him, in order to avert the end of the world, having decided that they quite like people, and, whether Heaven or Hell wins the last battle, things are going to be pretty boring afterwards.
But really the plot (which hangs together extremely well, especially considering the many excursions from the point) is just an excuse for a lot of excellent humrous writing, combined with a number of the insightful comments about human nature which Pratchett does so well.
One of the joys of reading a Pratchett book is the sheer number of references which he manages to pack in, and Good Omens is no exception. THe book of revelations is a big target (the 4 horsemen of the appocalyse have been replaced by the four bikers, and Pestillance has retired muttering about penicillin, to make way for Pollution), but he also manges to include references to the Just William books (the reviewer who complained about the Them sections being twee was seriously missing the point), The Omen, spy films, Queen songs, and the Mona Lisa among others.
Add to that a wide range of humour, from some painful puns, such as hairdressers' shops named Curl Up and Dye, and A Cut Above the Rest, to Sister Mary Loquacious's wittering about the baby Antichrist ("does he look like his daddy then? I bet he does. Does oo look like your daddy then?"), to televangelist songs like 'Jesus is the telephone repairman on the switchboard of my life' to Crowley and Aziraphale's odd-couple bantering, to an explanation of what evil really lies behind the M25 motorway, and many other things too numrous (and bizarre) to mention.
If you're looking for a serious book, a literary book, or standard fantasy fiction, then this isn't what you're after, but if you want to have a laugh, with some serious points thrown in, then I would definitely recommend Good Omens.
on 6 June 2006
I don't normally have out and out favourites, but this book has to be an exception as it's the only book I've ever re-read until it fell apart in my hands!
A cracking comedy about the end of the world that's well worth buying just for the footnote explanations "for Americans and other aliens" of such British staples as roaring open fires, Milton Keynes and pre-decimal currency.
It's about time I added to the stack of reviews for this one and 06/06/06 seemed the perfect time considering the Armageddon theme!
on 25 June 2001
"Good Omens"... The title says it all, doesn't it? If you haven't read this tome of magnificence, do so on the double. You won't regret it. If you're an avid fan of the pragmatic comic fantasy and sci-fi genre (as am I), into Douglas Adams, Tom Holt, Spike Milligan, the Goons, Monty Python, Red Dwarf, and just about everything else, you'll absolutely and undeniably enjoy this novel. It's co-authored by the infintesimally gifted Neil Gaiman, but is more of a scintillating rip-snorting effort of Pratchettian humour. It isn't Pterry's best, contrary to popular belief, that much coveted award has to be given to "Small Gods" (see my review of it), but "Good Omens" is nevertheless a refreshing, hilarious, insightful, cynical look at life, the universe, everything, and quite appropriately, witchfinding. "Good Omens" is...well, let's put it like this: it is a novel that, as Terry Gilliam says, is a children's story, and it's about the Antichrist. Funnily enough, the Antichrist is a nice comic-book dwelling young man named Adam, who has been displaced on planet Earth, Tadfield, to bring about the much-prepared Apocalypse. Unfortunately, Adam doesn't particularly enthuse upon this concept. He's not demonic, he's not angelic, he's only human, and that's the way it is. Meanwhile, Aziraphale the bookshop-proprietor and angel on the side, and Crowley, the serpent of the Garden of Eden and anti-Freddy Mercury enthusist, are having too good a time of it to let the world see its end, and so they go about relocating the Antichrist, and halt the Day of Reckoning after they finish off a round of pints. Meanwhile, Anathema Device, great granddaughter of Agnes Nutter, the only truly accurate prophet to the wavering future, is attempting to decipher her ancestor's prophesies...but she loses the book. Ah-oh. Meanwhile, Newton Pulsifer (Latin derivative: PULSION = the act or action of pushing, eg. giving, and PULSIFY = leguminous vegetable, eg. peas; literally the 'Giver of Peas/Peace')has been employed as a Witchfinder, meets the lovable rogue Shadwell, and Madame Tracy, and all these characters start the ball rolling... "Good Omens" is saturated in hilarious gags, frequently funny footnotes, eccentric characterisations, and brilliant satiric observations of how humanity has not got to grips on reality. "Good Omens" is a very funny, theological and philosophical book exploiting the reader to our only Salvation. It does not poke fun at Jesus, nor God, but merely the closed train of thought that Heaven and Hell are as disorganized as this or any other world. "Good Omens" is a riot. Some of the lines are so utterly brilliant and memorable they simply adhere to your head ("What?" <"I said we burn faggots." <"Alright!")And some of the scenes are so hysteric and historic, they will never die ("I want to be Really Cool People" for example). It's certainly a good thing that "Good Omens" is going to be filmed by Terry Gilliam, because I have no doubt that if he does it accurately, it will be his greatest work yet. Lovely stuff!
on 19 March 2002
What happens when you take Terry Pratchett - the father of fantasy comedy, and Neil Gaiman - the dark comic genius of the graphic novel, and cross the two of them with 1970s cult classic "The Omen". Well the answer is "Good Omens" and not only does it sound like a good idea in principle but this book delivers.
Anybody who has ever seen the Omen will find this to be possibly the finest horror parody of modern times, and the unitiated will find find it a hillarious and perfectly planned out novel.
The Devil sends his teaching through the voice of Freddie Mercury, on a car radio? And his son was mixed up with another kid at birth...
You simply must read this book. Regardles of if you've never seen a Discworld Novel, or read any of the Sandman Library, I assure you you will enjoy it. It is after all something totally seperate to both those series' and that is what makes it so special.
That's because Crowley is a demon. "Cursing" under his breath doesn't offer a demon the emotional release the opposite expression would provide. Crowley is one of The Two. His opposite number, Azariphale, is an angel. For six thousand years [Ussher missed the correct time of creation by fifteen minutes], they have wandered the planet awaiting the final encounter - Armageddon. The arrival of the AntiChrist on Earth is what they've been preparing for. Of course, it means both of them will thereby be laid off. No more job.
Pratchett and Gaiman's story of Christianity's two-millennia-long fulfillment episode is outstanding. With their combined wit and inventiveness, "Good Omens" is at least a laugh per page. A subset of humanity has blamed The Evil One for various wars, disasters and Labour governments. Not so, according to Crowley, who should know. Each time he thinks he's devised a truly fiendish torment to apply to humans, they've usually gotten in before him. And exceeded his expectatations. When it comes to vindictiveness, it seems nothing can outdo the human species.
There's another side to humans, however. It's sometimes discovered among children, who haven't learned the kinds of nastiness adults can develop. Among the children of the remote British town of Tadfield is a four-member gang, the Them. Three lads and a red-haired girl struggle to understand the adult world. One of them, Adam, has a certain level of leadership. He also has a dog - named "Dog". A recent acquisition of Adam's, Dog has been developing a taste for rabbits, a novelty compared to his previous diet.
Although the authors kindly provide a "Dramatis Personae" at the book's opening, listing various real and supernatural beings, one group enjoys a particular place in this book. Witches have endured some interesting shifts in our history. Where once they were dumped in the nearest scum-covered pond or fried upright bound to a post, now they have a new image. Today it's health food, long beaded necklaces and ley lines. Anathema Device, who may [or may not] be the descendent of Agnes Nutter, takes her role quite seriously. After all, she has The Book. The subtitle of "Good Omens" says it all [except you will relearn the definition of "nice"]. Agnes foretold the future in astonishing detail and precision - a capacity surprising Azariphale and occupying Anathema's time.
Bringing all these disparate elements together seems an impossible task. Especially since the logical conclusion would leave the book with a set of blank pages at the end. Pratchett and Gaiman, who both have proved inventive in devising conclusions, don't fail you here. Find out how they deal with Armageddon.
on 5 February 2015
Don't bother reading my review, or other reviews. Just buy it and read it, see for yourself what the hype was about.
It's been out for a while but I've just read it the first time. It's confusing, messy, vivid, insane, odd...did I say confusing? Underneath all of the insanity of it there is a plot to follow.
My only criticism is that the sheer madness of it all - everything about it is strange - the plot gets a little lost, or maybe the points where I should have be reading it through my "serious and significant plot details to follow" eyes I was reading it through my "trying to understand the insanity of this book" eyes.
But the trick for that problem? Read it again, and maybe again. It gets better each time.
on 28 February 2016
Like most fans of his works, I have felt the pain of a Pratchett-shaped hole in my reading life ever since his death. The gift of a new novel was a yearly gift I’d come to rely on, and now it’s gone for good. We shall miss it.
But on the urgings of a friend, I have now, and for the first time, read one of the novels that he wrote in collaboration with another writer. I’d always resisted that inclination in the past, driven by a sense that I wanted my Terry Pratchett unadulterated or not at all. Ask a Scotsman what the best thing is to add to a whisky and he’ll tell you, “another whisky.” Nothing mixes better with Pratchett than another Pratchett.
After <i>Good Omens</i>, I’ve had to revise that view. It isn’t a Pratchett novel. It isn’t set on the Discworld, for instance, but on Earth. Nonetheless, behind the wit that hums through the book, some of it no doubt down to the co-author Neil Gaiman, there are occasional gleams of pure Pratchett: in the ageing dominatrix, for instance, who is essentially motherly and decorates her boudoir of sin with fluffy toys, or the suggestion that nothing Hell could come up with as a torment would rival what mankind can dream up on its own.
The theme is a parody of the film <i>Omen</i>. A son has been born to Satan. His agents, notably the demon Crowley who is coordinating the whole venture, have arranged that an American diplomat’s wife will give birth that very night to a son in an obscure hospital in the English countryside, which happens to be staffed by nuns from a Satanist order. This will allow a switch to be performed, leading to the devil’s child being brought up in a family which will provide him with the opportunity to plunge the world into the chaos that leads to Armageddon.
Alas, however, even infernal agents, like humans, are inclined to err. The switch is mishandled. So, eleven years later, as the forces of hell and those of heaven prepare to fight their last battle to the destruction of the Earth and the human species, nothing goes to plan.
Which isn’t such a bad thing for Crowley, and his opposite number, the angel Aziraphale. The two of them have grown used to life on earth and have come to enjoy it. No more antique bookshops? No more elegant cocktail bars? (I leave it to you to decide which is to the taste of which of these two). The prospect leaves them both distraught and, having come close to being friends down the centuries through which they have competed with each other, they collaborate to see if they can find a way of preventing Armageddon while avoiding the likely retribution of their respective heavenly and infernal hierarchies.
Throw into the mix a modern witch, who happens to be a descendant of Agnes Nutter, author of some “nice and accurate prophecies” which, are indeed, astonishingly accurate though sadly not always comprehensible until after the events have happened, and then include a misfit of a young man who becomes a witchfinder, and you have all the ingredients for a rollicking, funny and engaging tale. Since the ending is both satisfying and pointed, with the destruction of an object we might have expected to be treated as sacred, the novel has everything one could hope for to amuse and entertain.
Well worth it if you’re at a loose end and want some entertainment written with talent. And, like me, you're regretting the loss of Terry Pratchett. Enhanced, far from diminished, by Neil Gaiman.
on 26 February 2005
Firstly I must say that I was already a fan of Pratchett's work prior to reading this book.
I was given this book by a friend who had won it in a competition. Her comments being something along the lines of "I don't like all that wizards and stuff type books" (i.e. a discworld novel), how wrong she was!! This book is not part of the discworld series, neither is it anything like any of them.
The story follows Crowley, a demon of hell (he's not as bad as he sounds!) and Aziraphale an Angel of heaven. Together they are trying to stop the apocalypse from happening. Oh and it's next Saturday, just after tea, Agnes Nutter [witch], predicted it.
Throughout the story many other colourful characters are introduced to the reader.
The novel is very light hearted and a pleasure to read. The only problem I found with the book was that it had to end!
If you are already a fan of Terry Pratchett, read it. If you are not a fan of pratchett or simply didn't enjoy the Discworld book, read this... you will be very surprised.