There is a distinct hint of Armageddon in the air. According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (recorded, thankfully, in 1655, before she blew up her entire village and all its inhabitants, who had gathered to watch her burn), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, the Four Bikers of the Apocalypse are revving up their mighty hogs and hitting the road, and the world's last two remaining witch-finders are getting ready to fight the good fight, armed with awkwardly antiquated instructions and stick pins. Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. . . . Right. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan.
Except that a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon -- each of whom has lived among Earth's mortals for many millennia and has grown rather fond of the lifestyle -- are not particularly looking forward to the coming Rapture. If Crowley and Aziraphale are going to stop it from happening, they've got to find and kill the Antichrist (which is a shame, as he's a really nice kid). There's just one glitch: someone seems to have misplaced him. . . .
First published in 1990, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's brilliantly dark and screamingly funny take on humankind's final judgment is back -- and just in time -- in a new hardcover edition (which includes an introduction by the authors, comments by each about the other, and answers to some still-burning questions about their wildly popular collaborative effort) that the devout and the damned alike will surely cherish until the end of all things.
Topics: Witches, England, Speculative Fiction, Parody, Black Humor, Adventurous, Satirical, Apocalypse, Angels, Demons, Supernatural Powers, Prophecies, Satan, British Author, Death, Heaven, Hell, Postmodern, and Collaborations
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As a fan of both Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, I started reading this book with some trepidation-- when multiple authors are involved, it's a very rare thing that the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts. But this is the exception that proves the rule: both authors shine in this satirical and hysterical look at the final days. These guys know their Bible, and I'm guessing that they even gave God a chuckle.more
It's a beautiful piece of work, and it perfectly encapsulates the humor, stubbornness, stupidity, brilliance, cruelties and kindnesses of mankind -- amplified by the choirs of angels and demons, so ready to make war around them in God's name.
death was just watching, getting off on all the coughing."
This book reminded me of that song. The end of the world, Satan's child, good v./& evil, &c. Funny (clever-funny, mostly) and the story was quite enjoyable, although the characters were too numerous to really care about any of them.more
I thoroughly enjoyed this hilarious satire of Armageddon. The AntiChrist as an eleven-year-old boy with a Hellhound masquerading as a rat terrier mongrel. The Four Bikers of the Apocalypse easy riding to the End of the World. And it all started with the Serpent and the guardian Angel from the Garden of Eden. To top it all off, a 17th century witch named Agnes Nutter accurately predicted everything.more
The thing about this is that while you’re laughing hysterically or getting wigged out by some of the demons (specifically the maggots; thank you Neil Gaiman), it does have a lot to say. It doesn’t so much condemn religion, but rather looks at the human ideals of good and evil in a greatly different way from a lot of other books. I like that neither Heaven or Hell is presented as wholly wrong nor right, just the two sides of the same coin.
Aziraphale and Crowley have one of the best relationships I’ve read in fiction. Yes, it’s very easy to go and say that they’re an old married couple, but you get the sense in the beginning that they were genuinely good friends who happened to end up on different ideologies. They’re willing to work with each other, even if their end goals are on completely different ends of the spectrum. I also like that they’re not omnipotent—they’ve lived on Earth for millennia but they can still cock up. Massively. The Them do play into a little of stereotype of kid gangs, but I generally liked them. There’s a lot more to Adam’s development that I could have used, but I like that we don’t know everything about his childhood. Adds more to his eventual decision. Anathema does fall into the lines of something like Discworld’s Lancre Witches, but she’s a strong enough character in her own right. My one tiny nitpick of the book is that I really don’t like her relationship with Newt. I like them both as individual characters, and I can see them being attracted to each other…but I don’t like the whole “Oh, well, now we have to sleep with each other because Agnes said so!” Or rather, that Newt and Anathema know about this BEFORE they commit said act. It’s a very quick and somewhat cheap way to progress their relationship, and would have probably been better if they developed their attraction more naturally. (That said though, Agnes Nutter is a BAMF.)
I liked the lampshading of general Apocalyptic plotlines, particularly with the intended Antichrist supposed to go to an American diplomat, and the portrayal of the Four Horsepeople while they’re waiting around for the end to come. (And in Famine’s case, if his ways to keep himself amused may just scare you off of processed food forever.) I love the scenes where you see the effects of Adam’s powers worldwide—while they feel more like isolated incidents, it does give a larger scope of what he’s doing. Also the references and shout-outs are tastefully handled—obvious enough to get the joke, but neither writer beats it into the reader’s skull. (For example, I’ve read this book a number of times. Only this last time do I spot the Doctor Who cameo.)
Being a huge fan of both Gaiman and Pratchett, their writing really compliments the other. The casual observer may think that it wouldn’t work given the kind of books they respectively write, but there’s a similar sense of humor and use of language that both authors use and it works brilliantly. The use of footnotes aside, there’s no large passages that scream “NEIL/TERRY WROTE THIS!” (aside from the ones that the authors have said they had a stronger hand in developing). Which is fantastic—I haven’t run across It often, but I love it when a cowritten book flows just so seamlessly that it feels more like a book rather than “You got your Gaiman in my Pratchett!” etc.
It’s an engaging funny book that still manages to hold up even after repeated readings. Like I mentioned above, I’ve read this hundreds of times, and yet I’m still finding jokes and references and plot devices each time. There’s a reason why I need extra copies, it’s one of those books I want to go to everyone I know and say “You HAVE to read this.”
There is a reason this book almost became a movie (and I really wish it had.) It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read before. I admit, there were moments I didn’t appreciate at first. For example, our main character Crowley Aziraphale are the biggest characters and the story always returns to them, but in about 150 pages they disappear from a very long time. Instead, different main characters come into the story and take center. The Thems, Anathema Device, Newt Pulsifer, Sergeant Shadwell, etc. Some characters were also given full pages, when their part was very minor, and could have been cut altogether.
However, as we begin to get to the meat of Armageddon we have begun to get to know these new characters and sense what each role is. Then as if it couldn’t get better, Crowley and Aziraphale come back into the picture.
The ending to a book is so important and even though the middle made me want to slow down my reading, the ending all but made up for it. Expect to see immortals that you’ve heard of before, and some you haven’t. Even the ending, I can’t say for sure but the way a voice came from out of nowhere and disrupted the conversation? I think a very high supreme being was actually there.
The ending with the Antichrist as well, for the last bit? Worth it. Every bit, you couldn’t have asked for a better ending.
In 2003, after we'd moved to California, which cut our income in half and doubled our rent, he stopped buying books and instead began putting library books under the tree along with a promise of uninterrupted time in which to read them. By 2005, our first Christmas with our first child, the time had become an even more valuable commodity than the money.
In 2008, he stopped using reviews of books to choose which to put under the tree for me and started using my own Goodreads to-read list. That is just what he did this year, which means that one of the books I found under our now thirteen-year-old tree was Good Omens. Okay, well, technically I picked the books up from the library myself, wondering why my husband was reading a bunch of books I'd had on my to-read list for ages, but the effect was largely the same. I brought them home, we stuck them (unwrapped) under the tree, and I didn't think about them until Christmas morning.
Good Omens is the first of the bunch I picked up this Christmas break. I read it in three installments, one while my husband took my son to the library and I sat with my pale and vomity daughter, one after everyone else was in bed and the snow fell silently outside the window behind me, and the third this morning while my husband took our well-for-the-moment children to the children's museum.
I found the experience of immersing myself in this book very pleasant. I've been doing a slog through my "currently-reading" list lately and nonfiction just doesn't invite the kind of immersion that a novel does. In addition, I was impressed with the seamless way Pratchett and Gaimen assembled this co-authoring effort, wondering at times if their little jabs at trends in co-parenting might be self-conscious references to their own co-fathering of this book.
Overall, the book has the dry, British wit of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and a decidedly Gaiman-esque flavor especially to the Four Horsemen bits, or at least an American Gods-esque flavor, although I found it less laugh-out-loud funny than the Hitchhiker's trilogy and less well developed than American Gods. Neither of these comparisons is actually fair, though. Gaiman published American Gods fifteen years after Good Omens came out, and one would assume that an author's work would acquire some polish with fifteen years of practice, and I first read Douglas Adams in middle school when I was determined to find anything British hilarious because it seemed esoteric and therefore made me feel special when I laughed at it even if I didn't catch 75% of the jokes. It's possible that, had I picked up Good Omens in middle school (which would have been impossible since it came out the year I started high school), I would have laughed out loud at it. But I'm a jaded 36-year-old who picks up her own Christmas gifts from the library and looks at her child having a stomach bug as "downtime." I think it takes a little more to make me laugh out loud these days.
But I did find Good Omens amusing, and I'm glad I picked it from the Christmas pile first. Now for some lunch, some exercise, and on to the next book.
I say mostly, because (and I realize this is kind of a complaint for the sake of complaining) Good Omens felt just a little too silly for me. Yes, I know that's kind of the point of the book, but I found myself resenting a lot of the asides and footnotes and just the general goofiness of the book. If I had my druthers, someone would have sat down and cut out some of the extra business, but then again, there are reasons that I should never get my hands on my druthers.
It's a fun, irreverent book, all the same. I just think that the overly complicated plot and the excess of characters can get in the way of the fun from time to time.more