After hearing the real good news that this book is being adapted to Television, and the even better news – that one of the stars of this adaptation will be David Tennant (who will, for me, forever be The Doctor, or at least Killgrave – the perfect villain from Netflix’s Jessica Jones series), I have decided to go back to Good Omens, which I have last read about a decade and a half ago, and see if it stand the test of time.
Good Omens, or in its full name: Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, is an apocalyptic comedy written at the collaboration of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett in 1990. If you happen to know the two authors, you might guess that this kind of cooperation could lead to two outcomes – full colossal madness or, hmmm. Actually, on second thought, there is only one way this could end.
The plot of this book takes its inspiration from Richard Donner’s 1976 hit horror film The Omen. If you haven’t seen it yet, you are more than welcome to do so, but only on full daylight and on your own account. The story, in short – The devil’s son is sent to the world to grow as an American diplomat’s son and start the final war between good and evil. Simple, isn’t it? Only in our case, something goes wrong, and the diabolical plan does not come out as the poet intended. How wrong? As much as possible.
The protagonists of the book are Crowley and Aziraphale, a demon and an angel (respectively) who are stuck on earth to meddle in the lives of human beings and tilt the scales to their side in the Great War one soul after the other. The two, who have been associates since Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden and have learned to love their simple lives far from the scrutiny of their superiors, decide to throw in their lot and try to prevent the end of the world, which is expected more or less next Saturday if you insist on knowing. Yes, the biblical apocalypse in all its splendor, with a rain of fish, a moon that turned into blood and all these shenanigans.
So let’s start with the good news. More than 15 years after I’ve read it for the first time, it is still a fun read. Even though its pages sometimes reek of nonsense, and although at times the effort to be too wise is felt strongly, it does not detract from pleasure. At least, not too much. Thus, while the combination of the Neil Gaiman’s dimness and the Terry Pratchett’s insane silliness makes this book a refreshing experience, it sometimes seems that the two enjoyed so much writing the jokes for this book, that they sometimes forgot to penetrate into the depths of the characters. What readers eventually get is a rhythmic and enjoyable plot with subtlety and sophistication, but with relatively shallow and childish and completely undisclosed characters (perfectly legit in the case of some characters). On the other hand, we’re talking parody here, so there’s no reason to take it so seriously.
So if we decide to give this book a slack, we can also ignore the little criticism it has on the human race and the modern age and of faith in general and the Christian faith in a somewhat less general way, and of the wars and the people leading these wars. Because you don’t really want us to start taking it seriously, along with the issues it raises, because then we’ll have to go a little deeper and find out that this book is nothing more than the “Scary Movie” version of the apocalypse, even if a little more intelligent than any parody movie made ever since the Eighties.
In conclusion, not the peak of Gaiman or Pratchett’s career, but still a very entertaining book.
Four bikers from hell and one demon dog
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch / Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman / Gollancz (UK) / Workman (US)
I just hope the TV adaptation to this book would be better than the one they made of American Gods