To be completely honest this was a reread. I’d loaned a friend my copy of Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett and was sad to realize that I was having a hard time remembering the various story lines when trying to talk with him about it. I did remember liking it though, so I gave it another go around and, given it’s written by both Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, I’m completely unsurprised by the fact that I was delighted by this apocalyptic story.
In Good Omens (Or The Nice And Accurate Prophecies Of Agnes Nutter, Witch) the world is ending, the antichrist is missing, and an angel and a demon are finding the line between good and evil is becoming somewhat blurred. This book is witty. Both Pratchett and Gaiman have spent some time in the world of writing about beliefs and gods and they’ve used this opportunity to give Christianity a few winks, nudges, and jabs.
They do not limit themselves to poking fun at religion, however. This book has a wry tone that seems to exist even (or especially in) serious moments. It feels as though the entire book they (the they here could be Gaiman and Pratchett. Though I suppose it’s the narrator, who I suspect is God and the argument could be made that in the universe and story of Good Omens Pratchett and Gaiman are, in fact, God) are trying to keep themselves from giggling at the ridiculousness that is life and humanity.
I read somewhere recently that this book got started because Gaiman and Pratchett were friends and they were just enjoying themselves, taking turns writing bits of this story, but then it turned into something they wanted to pursue into publishing. This comes across in the book. The story had had the tone of a long-running joke between friends that the reader is being let in on. However I suspect that this is also why it’s so chalk full of characters. The story doesn’t get confusing, but it occasionally feels too full. Like it just had two Thanksgiving meals and a snack. This is a problem that isn’t really a problem. It stems from Pratchett and Gaiman being so talented at writing life into their characters. There are no background people. The extras all get their say and the racket caused by this is probably similar to the racket created by the world coming to an end.