The end is nigh!
Good Omens follows Aziraphale, a by-the-books Angel and his counterpart Crowley, a fast-living Demon, two representatives of good and evil that have lived amongst humans since The Beginning. As foretold by Agnus Nutter – a witch with a propensity for nice and accurate prophecies – Armageddon will arrive on a Saturday afternoon eleven years following the arrival of the Antichrist on Earth. As we are rapidly approaching that Saturday, this does not bode well for Aziraphale and Crowley as they’ve become rather content with living in London.
However, eleven years ago, due to a mix-up at a Satanic Nunnery on the day the newborn Antichrist was to be switched with a human child, no one seems to know exactly where he is. The boy they believed to be the Antichrist turns out to be just a normal human child and thanks to a fire that destroyed the records, Aziraphale and Crowley cannot track down the son of Satan. Can Armageddon be stopped or are we all doomed?
Good Omens sprang to life as an idea between co-authors Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett in the mid to late 1980s. They would talk for hours on the phone about where they wanted to take the story and then each write large blocks of text that they would then copy to floppy disks and mail to one another for review. This is a far cry from a shared document on the cloud.
You can see both of the authors’ influence in the story. Pratchett’s trademark silliness gels well with Gaiman’s gothic style to create a mixture of Douglas Adams and DC’s Constantine comics. Obviously, the end of the world is a serious matter, but not serious enough that the two authors couldn’t find some humor in it. The footnotes were a nice touch that led to many laugh-out-loud moments. The book was at its best when it was poking fun at the mishandling of a giant war between good and evil.
Aside from being a runaway bestseller, it has been adapted to a BBC radio play as well as – at one point – in development for a feature film directed by Terry Gilliam with Robin Williams and Johnny Depp attached to play Aziraphale and Crowley respectively. Most recently, it has been adapted to a six-episode mini-series through Amazon Prime Video with Michael Sheen and David Tennant in the starring roles – more on the series later in another review.
This is my first Terry Pratchett novel and my fourth(?) Neil Gaiman. To be honest, Gaiman has been pretty hit or miss for me over the years. I didn’t particularly like American Gods or his Batman work, but I enjoyed both Neverwhere and The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I think this is my favorite one yet of his and I don’t know if that means I’ll love Pratchett. To be honest, the idea of jumping into the Discworld series seems overwhelming (forty-one novels!), but I’m more open to it now than I had been previously.