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
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!
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.
This is one of those books that has the best of everything. I have lost count of the times I've read it and the number of paperback copies I have bought, read, re-read, lent to my (now adult) children, re-read some more and had to throw away. I now have a hardback copy. It's the sort of book you can dip into wherever, whenever. I find more to amuse each time I read it. I love the characters, so many almost familiar from Terry Pratchett's Discworld, yet others from the mind of Neil Gaiman. It is my all time favourite novel and my only certain desert island book.
on 26 May 2010
"Good Omens" is a collaborative novel written by acclaimed fantasy authors Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, first published in 1990 and nominated for both the Locus and the World Fantasy Awards. Armaggeddon - the final battle between Heaven and Hell - is nigh. The Antichrist walks the earth (in rural Oxfordshire, no less) in the form of eleven-year-old Adam Young, although a mix-up at birth means that the forces of Hell have managed to confuse him with another child, with potentially devastating consequences. Meanwhile the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley, who in their six thousand years on Earth have actually grown quite attached to the place and its human inhabitants, are trying their best to undermine the Divine plan and prevent the Apocalypse from happening.
Other characters to enter the mix include: the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse; the Metatron (not one of the Transformers but in fact the Voice of God); Newton Pulsifer, the latest recruit to the two-man Witchfinder Army; and psychic Anathema Device, who alone holds the prophecies of the world's destruction. The result is a riotous and hugely entertaining novel which never lets up the pace. Yet as Adam begins to realise his true powers and a series of highly improbable events (the rising of Atlantis from the bottom of the ocean, fish raining from the sky) begins to pave the way for the end times, a sense of real menace slowly emerges - strange though that may seem. And amidst the humour there are also serious musings on the nature of good and evil, as well as some subtle digs at Christian theology and its inherent paradoxes.
The collaboration captures the best of both authors' writing, with Pratchett's wry sense of humour and the darker themes familiar from Gaiman's work combining to create an edgy yet blackly funny prose style, in many ways reminiscent of some of Douglas Adams' works, such as "The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul". The latest edition, published in 2006, also includes the transcript of an interview with both authors, as well as short pieces penned by Pratchett and Gaimain themselves regarding their experiences of working with each other, which offer plenty of insight into the process of writing the novel.
"Good Omens" is a tremendously enjoyable novel and a real page-turner which will appeal to readers on any number of levels, from the frivolous to the philosophical.
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 11 May 2001
I don't usually read books more that once, but this one, I've lost count of the number of times. I love it. Soooo funny, each time I read it I laugh out loud... I recommend it to anyone who'll listen to me.
on 4 November 2008
I wonder if my writing a review for this book is a waste of time. There are already so many giving this book and it's authours all of the praise they're due!
But I love this book so much I just have to talk about it!
Here we see a collaboration between Gaiman and Pratchett so cleverly written and elaborate. Many strands of story converging together in a well ordered and thought-ahead way. Something hard for one writer to convey on his/her own let alone having to confure with co-writer on a different continent.
Some obvious Pratchett style writing - obvious Gaiman Style and some, where the writers themselves are said to not know who wrote it.
As if the book wrote, grew and evolved all on its own.
I think one of the best ways to describe its content is to draw on its obvious paralells with the widely known Omen Trilogy (or quadrilogy if you want to recognise that awful 4th instalment made many years later) and even that assimily does not do it justice.
Another way would be to say it's the "Scary movie" of books, but where this is incredibly dry and witty and actully funny!!
I whole heartedly unreservedly recommend you buy this book NOW!!
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.