Written in 1990 at a time when Pratchett was just beginning to reach the top of his game and Gaiman was primarily still a graphic novelist, this book quickly became a cult classic, winning the World Fantasy Award nominee for Best Novel in 1991 and the Locus Award nominee for Best Fantasy Novel in the same year.
‘Good Omens’ is basically a comedy about the end of the world. The son of Satan is born onto the Earth one night with the ultimate destiny to bring about Armageddon. However after a mistake is made, the baby ends up growing up in a sleepy town called Tadfield with very normal parents, far away from the deliberate manipulation of the forces of Heaven and Hell. When he begins to lose control one day, he inadvertently begins proceedings towards the end of the World. Meanwhile, long-time friends Aziraphale (an Angel) and Crowley (a Demon) who were originally supposed to ensure the apocalypse outcome for both their sides, in their years on Earth have taken an ingrained liking for humanity and the world they inhabit. When they realise the end of the World is nigh, they set out to try and stop the Antichrist (named Adam) from fulfilling his destiny (along with a multitude of secondary characters too many to name and explain by us here).
In a likeable and light-hearted way the story raises questions such as – are people distinctly good or evil? And the age-old chestnut as to whether this is nature or nurture. It also suggests that humankind brings more sorrow upon itself than any religious interference – an idea that when we look back on some of the horrific events in the last century is certainly one worth mulling over. What? How is that light-hearted you say? Well it is because at no point does this book make you feel lectured to, it simply makes fun out of life, the world, and everything in a charming (and very British – think Monty Python) manner.
The collaboration between Gaiman and Pratchett makes for an interesting, satirical (standard for the authors in question) and incredibly witty read, although we’ll admit, for a reader who has never delved into Pratchett’s or Gaiman’s work before, it can be a tad confusing at times. The story does loop around, and stop in its tracks, and dither back and forth, and any other non-linear way to describe it you can think of, which isn’t necessarily the most inviting of plots but is wholly entertaining if you keep up with it. And if fantasy isn’t usually your genre of choice and you’re sitting reading this review with an apprehensive glint in your eye and the words “I don’t think I’ll try it” on your lips, although World of Books would still thoroughly recommend this novel, it’s definitely not everyone’s cup of tea (as it were). Our last warning would be that if you’re religious in any way, shape or form, you definitely need to approach this book with an open-mind and take it at funny face-value rather than “blasphemous” as some over-zealous critics have labelled it.
World of Books says that this is a book well worth a read, even if it takes you outside your normal reading comfort zone. It’ll certainly get you talking about it afterwards, and if it doesn’t raise a smile at least once, we’d be very surprised.
The reading group are discussing ‘Good Omens’ later this week so keep an eye out for ‘What the Book Group Said’ coming soon. And in the meantime, whether you’ve read it so many times your copy is falling apart/too coffee-stained to read/water-damaged from being dropped in the bath/battered beyond repair, or whether you fancy trying something new today, then pick up a copy from World of Books today!