Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Good Omens, Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, WitchIt was a nice day. All the days had been nice. There had been rather more than seven of them so far, and rain hadn't been invented yet. But clouds massing east of Eden suggested that the first thunderstorm was on its way, and it was going to be a big one.

"According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world's only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner. So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth's mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture. And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist..."

This novel has been in the back of my mind for quite a while; I'd heard that it was hilarious. And it was, but also utterly zany in a trademark Gaiman adult fantasy style. At the beginning, there were so many different characters, but they gradually all settled into place. Still, I would have preferred more scenes with Crowley and Aziraphale; I loved their banter and the way they seemed to complement one another. An angel and a devil, friends. The other characters had their points too; many of them were quite amusing, especially the witch hunting Agency. I also liked reading about the Them, the band led by Adam, the supposed Adversary, Destroyer of Kings, Angel of the Bottomless Pit, Great Beast that is called Dragon, Prince of This World, Father of Lies, Spawn of Satan, and Lord of Darkness. Talk about epithets. And insanity. And irony because his name his Adam, yet his purpose is to be the destroyer of the world.

The pace of this book slowly builds as the time of the apocalypse gets nearer and nearer. I was never quite sure what was going to happen or really what exactly was going on. The characters and the powers in this book work in mysterious ways; Adam just thinks about something happening, "turns over in his sleep" and the nuclear reactor from a power plant disappears. None of it is fully explained, but that was okay, because it didn't need to be. As it was, the book wasn't bogged down, and I read it pretty quickly despite its length. 

As one might expect, there were so many funny and insightful quotes in this book that had me laughing out loud. They speak for themselves.


“God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players [i.e. everybody], to being involved in an obscure and complex variant of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won't tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.” 

“It may help to understand human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people.” Too true, too true. 

“Anyway, if you stop tellin' people it's all sorted out afer they're dead, they might try sorting it all out while they're alive." This is also true; somehow Adam, despite his lack of knowledge, manages to hit many things on the nail. 

"Now, as Crowley would be the first to protest, most demons weren't deep down evil. In the great cosmic game they felt they occupied the same position as tax inspectors - doing an unpopular job, maybe, but essential to the overall operation of the whole thing...and on the other hand, you got people like Ligur and Hastur, who took such a dark delight in unpleasantness you might even have mistaken them for human."

Kind of out of context, but: "On the top of the pile a rather large octopus waved a languid tentacle at them. The sergeant resisted the temptation to wave back."

Read more hilarious quotes here on Goodreads. This book is highly recommended. It was weird, yet brilliant and hilarious and unpredictable. 

412 pages.

Rating: *****

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