Skip to main content

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

picture of book cover

Take note, all you Rapture-joking posters on Facebook: there are no equals to Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman when humorously writing about the end of the world.

In Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch , the world is going to end next Saturday. There are few minor problems, quibbles, really: one, a demon named Crawley and an angel named Aziraphale have become accustomed, if not fond, of this mortal coil. While keeping in mind that I’m a closeted classical music nerd, I laughed out loud at this exchange between the two:

“Listen,” said Crowley desperately, “how many musicians do you think
your side have got, eh? First grade, I mean.”
Azirphale looked taken back.
“Well, I should think —“ he began.
“Two,” said Crowley. “Elgar and Liszt. That’s all. We’ve got the rest.
Beethoven, Brahms, all the Bachs, Mozart, the lot. Can you imagine
eternity with Elgar?”
Aziraphale shut his eyes. “All too easily,” he groaned.”

The second problem for the supernatural figures is there’s been a mix-up with the Antichrist, resulting in a relatively normal child named Adam leading a gang of misfits known as Them and having no idea that he’s a key part of the showdown between Heaven and Hell. There is literally a cast of characters, including witch hunters, psychics, bikers, regular folks and a Dog. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse have also stopped by.

It’s all good fun, although there are problems. For one, while the story flows and the tone is more or less the same, the book can jump around – it really does feel like two people wrote it. As a reader, I wanted more Crowley and Aziraphale and less of the Them. I also had the uncomfortable feeling that I wasn’t quite up enough on my Bible to get all the jokes. This is not a fault of the authors, but I do think that you’ll chuckle more if you’ve spent some quality time in Sunday School. Regardless, Armageddon has rarely been this funny.

I would recommend American Gods: A Novel and Neverwhere: A Novel over Good Omens, but if you’re a fan of either Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett, this is a solid part of their respective oeuvre. I should also point out that I found my copy for $.50 at Second Chance in Naperville - should you have that opportunity for a book by either of the authors, grab and buy immediately.