Good Omens (Review)

Good Omens (Review)

The first admission is that I’ve bought just about every Pratchett book out there – loved the Diskworld series. And Gaiman, I’ve also read one or two of his and generally liked them. So when a work acquaintance mentioned Good Omens, I had to have a look.

I’ve got to say that I really enjoyed it; the opener is perfect with the Angel of God (Aziraphale) and of the Devil (Crowley) distantly looking down at the ejection of Adam and Eve from Eden, both with strong misgivings (Crowley is miffed that the apple thing was very unfair, even though he, himself, played a part (as Crawley, right?)). It’s a very clever start, allowing us to like the characters on the basis of their strengths and weaknesses.

And as the centuries pass, Aziraphale and Crowley work for their sides yet (in a perfect simile about how two competing salesmen in a foreign country will likely socialize with each other because of the alienness of everything except each other) meet for dinner at favorite restaurants and enjoy those little pleasures neither heaven nor hell are particularly good at. And so everything is nice and everyone is happy, until the Apocalypse is initiated with the birth of the anti-Christ.

With a flair even modern governments cannot duplicate, the babies are accidently swapped, the American Ambassadors’ devil-spawn going to a loving but distracted midland’s father. And as the boy grows without Hell to guide him or Heaven to interfere, the entire end-game for the fate of the world (and every sole upon it) is up for grabs.

As I said, I really enjoyed the whole story, the concept of Good and Evil as one’s job, the revenge a helpfully prophesizing witch has on those who decide to burn her at the stake, the perversion of the hellhound companion into a cute dog named “dog”. All that plays well. My only problem is a standing problem I’ve long had with Pratchett, his end-climax. I don’t think this is an English (meaning Britain) thing; other writers don’t seem so afflicted. No, it’s that he can’t seem to execute  a sharp satisfying single climax. With all respect to the master, they seem to be overlong, confused, multi-part climaxes, as if he’d come up with multiple resolutions and decided to work all of them in. His Diskworld books are often like this, and it carried over here. I’ve read this story twice now, and both times I’ve come away slightly dissatisfied at the end, as if all the actions of all the characters seemed diluted by the floundering about at the critical showdown. It’s rather like sitting down to the perfect meal, and just as you are peaking, just as you are shaking your head at how good it is, the staff inexplicitly swaps out your silverware, brings the check early, and forgets to ask if you’d like desert.

Your reflections of it was that it was good up until that point.

But that’s not to say that you won’t have laughs aplenty and twists galore up until that point. Overall, its still a favorite and still comes recommended.

(and besides, the end might work for you – it just might be my Yankee outlook).