Book: Good Omens Review

“The world will end next Saturday, just after tea…”

Author: Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman

Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Drama, Age: Adult

Released: 23rd May 1991 (UK version)

The prophetess Agness Nutter who lived many centuries ago, published prophecies that were so accurate and so specific that were totally useless. They predicted the end of the world. Her ancestors have kept the prophecies safe for generations, and now one by one, they’re coming true..

This book is a collaboration between Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, two very good authors in their own right. So surely it should be a spectacular ride. Well, maybe….

Warning! Contains spoilers!

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The book starts off at the beginning, right where Adam and Eve are kicked out of heaven for eating the forbidden fruit. Angel Aziraphale and the snake Crawly (later Crowley) follow the humans to earth and spend thousands of years watching them develop. Having grown up in the human world, rather than Heaven or Hell, they’re partial to it.

The book’s other characters are the Witchhunter Shadwell and his eccentric neighbour Madame Tracy, Shadwell’s assistant Newton Pulsifer, and the ancestor of Agness Nutter, Anatheme Device also feature alongside Azriphael and Crowley. They have their own chapters and plot lines that eventually come together.

Also, some weird fragments of chapters relate to the “Hell’s Angel’s”, which turn out to be War, Famine, Pollution and Death. They were interesting lead ups, particular the part where they ride motorbikes. However, the characters are only clearly defined at the end. Before this, their sections are few and far between, and at first appear to have no relation to the main story.

Aside from these side-characters, there are dozens of mini-characters which get their own paragraphs. There’s no indication which character will turn up later in the book and it was a chore keeping track of them all.

The first half of the book followed some occultist nun’s attempt to mix in the anti-Christ with some random human babies. They got that wrong in the book, and manged to confuse the reader too! This section was so complicated, even after re-reading the paragraphs several times, I couldn’t figure out what had happened. The book’s foot-note admits that this will confuse some people, so I moved on feeling that this is will eventually right itself.

Aziraphale and Crowley wonder whether the baby will turn out good or evil depending on its influences. They give attention to the one they think has the world-ending powers. It turns out, we’ve been spending time with the wrong human baby!

The real anti-Christ turns out to be Adam Young, who is a normal eleven year old. He’s a bit pushy and has his own group of friends, of which he’s the leader.

Portrayals of children in adult books are awkward and stilted most of the times, and being forced to read dull conversation here, amongst eleven-year-olds, was a chore. They don’t talk about anything interesting and their ignorance is blandly shocking.

What I initially mistook for a clever quip at children slowly turned to horror when I realised that they were pivotal to the entire story, and that the reader would be forced to sit through their dull schemes. Even when the world is broken apart by Adam and put back together, it’s done with the clumsy mind-set and explanation of a child.

There are several plot-lines which relate to the book “the prophecies of Agness Nutter”. I didn’t care much for the book’s plot-line. The book’s only copy is  lost by Anathema and eventually read by Aziraphale. Unfortunately, this doesn’t lead anywhere, and Anathema doesn’t need the book either, she’s got her own notes!

The humour in the book was very Terry Pratchett. I haven’t read any of his work, but from what I know from the TV shows like Going Postal and The Colour of Magic, it has a whimsicle style. I actually laughed aloud at some of the quips.

The humourous characters come at a cost though, and at some parts I thought the book tried too hard to be witty and funny. It felt forced.

The climax of the book is unfortunately weak. When all the characters have gathered at a US Army base…. well, nothing happens! Adam is asked if he wants to destroy the world. He fumbles out some answers in his clumsy eleven-year-old speech. Something about whales, and trees… and the Hell’s Angels are magically destroyed by children with sticks.. yeah..

There was virtually no confrontation, which should be a crime in a book. It really felt like, up to that point, it had been going pretty well. The Hell’s Angels were ready for a fight, and something should have happened.

Then the grown-up characters get paired up: Shadwell and Tracy, Anathema and Newt, and Aziraphale and Crowley. They go home and live happily ever after?

Overall, I thought the book was okay, it had good moments. However, either I missed some crucial parts, or this book just had too much padding that it couldn’t give a tight enough story. Just as a side note, I consider myself lucky that I knew some of the Biblical lore, otherwise this would have been very confusing!

I think I’ll read the authors’ original works rather than collab material.

Rated 3/5 – Good story concept, but takes too long for a climax and conclusion that is unsatisfactory. Features too many side-characters.

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