Monday, July 6, 2009

#90 - "Good Omens" by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

I picked up Good Omens (1990) by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman because of a fellow Cannonball review. I haven't read anything else by either author, but I'd seen enough glowing reviews and comments that I didn't want to miss out. I sped through the whole book in two days, very much enjoying it. After reading Peace Like a River, it was kind of refreshing to read a book that didn't take religion--or the end of the world for that matter--very seriously.

The novel begins with Aziraphale ("an angel, and part-time rare book dealer") and his nemesis/turned-grudging-friend-after-6,000 years, Crowley ("an angel who did not so much fall as saunter vaguely downwards"). Heaven and Hell are ready to do battle for the Earth and the end of the world is fast approaching. The only problem is that, although they cannot disobey their respective bosses, Crowley and Aziraphale have grown rather fond of the world and would prefer to wait a little longer before its final destruction. With young Adam, the lost anti-christ, and his friends, the apocalyptic horsepeople, satanic nuns, witchfinders, and others filling out the rest of the cast, there's a lot to hold your attention while the end of the world draws near.

The heart of the book is the odd couple/buddy relationship between Aziraphale and Crowley. It was while reading the banter in their scenes that I could most imagine Good Omens as a movie. I saw Robert Downey, Jr. as Crowley and Ewan McGregor as Aziraphale, and I would love to see those images in my head come to life (if done well). Much of the rest of the book is a hodgepodge of characters creatively executed and used for laughs. Pratchett and Gaiman don't limit their sarcastic wit to making fun of religion. It feels like they target whatever they recently found annoying, including telemarketers. Being not especially well-versed in the Bible or all things British, a number of jokes probably went over my head, but not enough that I ever really felt I was missing out. Clever and funny with a deeper core proclaiming the absurdity of religion as the ultimate fight between good and evil, this book was entertaining and satisfying.

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