Saturday, March 10, 2007

Book Review: "Good Omens"

Good Omens, written by Neil Gaiman (American Gods) and Terry Pratchett (Discworld) is a book in the syle of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in that it takes a decidedly British, fractured look at the Apocalypse. Here is a story about the boy Anti-Christ, a demon with sunglasses, a proper sounding angel, and the event they have to stop. Even the characters' names are funny and full of awkward, subtle humor.

This book was written in the late 80s, before Gaiman's American Gods and his work on the Sandman series, but you can see his love of mythology play. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse make an extended appearance, and appear in forms that are unique and interesting. Pollution has replaced Pestilence, and the reasoning behind that switch is made clear. The Anti-Christ, Adam Young, has his own gang to hag out with and is keenly unaware of his destiny. Though the plot revolves around Adam, for the most part, the novel focuses on other key characters. In fact, before the novel even begins, the reader is given a primer on all those who show up. It's nice to reference this list as the ball gets rolling.

A B-plot revolves around a book of predictions made 300 years ago that are totally correct, if not a little hard to decipher. Another B-plot involves a witchfinder and his reluctant protege. All these plots do come together in the end to a delightful conclusion. Since the book is meant to be funny, the jumping around is not detrimental to the flow and works to great effect.

Of course, religion plays a big role in the story, but the book isn't religious. You just have to accept that there is a Heaven and Hell and that's it. The book mirrors the creation, in that the action takes place over six days. There is some religious allegories going on, but those are mainly either from the Book of Revealations (which talks about the End of the World) or Old Testament references. Nothing will offend in this book.

Of course, since the story is written by two Brits, some of the humor gets lost on this American reader. The story takes place in one area of England. There is extensive humor derived from that highway system England employs and some of the terminology is purely English. Jokes are made abotu certain English items and towns. So while the tone is humorous and one tell that a joke is being made, it is hard for an American to truly laugh at certain parts. Still, overall, the book is enjoyable.

I would recommend picking up this book if you are a fan of Gaiman or Pratchett or Armaggedon. It's not a heavy read and the paperback edition fits nicely into small spaces.

3 1/2 Prophecies out of 5.


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