Book Review: Good Omens

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By Maggie Heenan, Staff Writer

If you’re a fan of the wildly absurd, this book was made for you. Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens is the perfect blend of satirical comedy and well-crafted storytelling. The book itself is based around the story of Aziraphele and Crowley, an angel and a demon both living in modern day London. Both Aziraphele and Crowley, as well as everyone else in the spiritual world, are aware that on an ordinary Saturday, 11 years from when the book begins, the world is going to end. Crowley, being a demon, is part of an elaborate plot to swap Satan’s son, the Antichrist with the baby of an American politician, ensuring that when he comes of age, he will have the power to take over and put an end to the world. Unfortunately for the Demons, their devious plan goes wrong and when the time comes, Crwoley is unable to find the eleven-year-old Antichrist. As the days go by and the end of the world grows near, we follow the unlikely friendship of Aziraphele and Crowely and their frantic search to find the Antichrist, and prevent him from beginning the apocalypse and ending the world. We also follow eleven-year-old Adam, Satan’s son, and his pack of friends known as the “Thems”, while Adam unknowingly sets in motion the end of the world. Throughout the ridiculous story there are a handful of subplots, including the summoning of the four horsemen and women of the apocalypse: War, Famine, Pollution, and Death. Of course, Gaiman and Pratchett masterfully put a modern spin on these characters, but I won’t spoil it for you.

Good Omens will not only have you laughing out loud as you read but also unexpectedly rooting for it’s absurd characters. Some of my favorites include Aziraphele, the ever-so-slightly corrupted angel who runs a bookshop, and Crowley, the demon with a conscience and an obsession with Queen. Another wonderfully entertaining duo are Anathema Device, the descendant of a famous witch, and Newton Pulsifer, who has a history of unintentionally making computers explode. 

Though at times the writing can be dense and drag on, the dialogue and skillfully integrated allusions easily make up for it. Gaiman and Pratchett perfectly capture the ridiculous innocence of children’s spirits and it translates perfectly into the interactions between Adam and the “Thems”, also known as Wensleydale, Pepper, and Brian. The four of them discuss many pressing topics such as the number of ice-cream flavors in the world (there’s a serious debate about this one), the reason why the Spanish got their own “smelly Inquisition” but the British didn’t, and why didn’t the people from Atlantis just close their windows and doors when their city went underwater? Adam and his gang of followers are not the only ones with masterfully written dialogue, Aziraphele and Crowley also steal the show with their charming banter and arguments over which things belong to their “side” (spoiler alert: most good things were invented by Hell’s side- including sushi restaurants.) The completely ludicrous concept and plot of Good Omens, and the exceptionally vibrant characters make this book unlike anything I’ve read before. It’s a perfect choice for anyone who enjoys nonsensical literature or satirical comedy (or even NBC’s television series The Good Place!) Despite being comedic in nature, the book itself and it’s ending have an incredibly wholesome message based on the good of human nature and our ability to choose our own path in life.