Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutterm Witch May 06, 2013

Good Omens is an amazing collaboration between authors Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. I’ve dropped my copy in the bath, written in it, and dog-eared it so much that I’ve had to buy another one. It has a wide array of characters, spans the globe and eleven years, but culminates in a small English town during Armageddon, the end of the Earth. It’s full of wonderful, conversational descriptions of people, hilarious situations, and there’s an eleven-year old antichrist who names his hellhound ‘Dog’.

            Crowley, a demon, and Aziraphale, an angel, have come to a sensible arrangement– that they wouldn’t interfere with the other’s duties for Hell or Heaven, so neither would really win nor lose. They have become accustomed to life on Earth and are a bit bothered that the higher powers want to fight it out and destroy the planet. They try to influence the antichrist, Adam, but due to a mistake on Crowley’s part, he grows up as a regular boy, albeit with world-changing powers. As the Earth hurtles towards Armageddon, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse join in, on motorcycles, after the Fed-ex man has delivered their weapons.

            The pop culture references (the voice of Beelzebub morphs into Freddy Mercury in Crowley’s cassette player), the footnotes, the frank descriptions of the characters, and the wild subversions of expectation and reality make this book so funny. I’ve read this book many times and I still laugh out loud. The characters are unique, but instantly envisioned in one descriptive quip. Newt, a witchfinder private, is described: "This is how Newton Pulsifer looked as a man: if he went into a phone-booth and changed he might well come out looking like Clark Kent." The witchfinder sergeant: “Shadwell hated all southerners and, by inference, was standing at the North Pole.”

            As well as being hilarious, Good Omens also has an optimistic and meaningful message, of the goodness of humanity and how we need to take care of things by ourselves. Adam makes wise and candid observations, as only a child can, that we need to take responsibility for our actions– specifically our ecological impact. This book never turns preachy; the morals are tempered by the quick and vigorous humour.

            Good Omens lets you get invested in the characters and the fate of the Earth as it picks up pace to its destruction, on a Saturday (just after tea). The divine and diabolical are rendered mundane, and the humans are the saviours. Although it deals with Christianity, and the mythology is accepted as fact, no prior knowledge of this religion is required to be thoroughly entertained and charmed by this book.

            This is one of the best books, or the best book, that I have ever read. It’s well written, charming, and fast-paced. This is as much a recommendation as a review– I think this book could appeal to everyone.

By: Hayley Insull

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