The rise of the Antichrist and the coming of the Apocalypse hardly seem like the ingredients for a warm, humorous story, but Good Omens by Gaiman and Pratchett takes the age-old Biblical story of the end times in an entirely new direction: fun.
A devil named Crowley and an angel named Aziraphale have been rivals for so many millennia of earth’s history, that they find a familiar camaraderie in their opposite assignments. Their current posts place them as the point men for the end of the world. The Antichrist has been born, the four horsemen have been notified, and everything is in place for the final battle between heaven and hell. The only problem is that the 11-year-old Antichrist seems to have been… misplaced.
Good Omens shuttles back and forth between Crowley and Aziraphale’s attempts to salvage the Apocalypse, the Antichrist’s discovery of his powers, and an array of other characters whose quirks and charms are an absolute delight. The banter between demon and angel are reminiscent of C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters, but with a levity and brightness that Screwtape’s Uncle Wormwood lacks.
Although Gaiman and Pratchett are clearly familiar with end-times prophecies and church culture, the setting and characters of Good Omens are hardly orthodox. The story plays on the edge of blasphemous and incisive, reframing ideas about Armageddon and preconceptions about God’s will. Gaiman and Pratchett are cavalier about the liberties they take, and in all probability they are mocking Scriptural truth. Yet underneath the surface, their story asks questions about the nature of God, good, and evil that readers would do well to ponder and search out.
Written in a simple, snappy style, Good Omens still gives off a sense of literary quality, because each simple word is perfectly situated and every sentence is carefully crafted for probing satire. Each character is both a laughable caricature and a genuine article. Richly decorated with sharp wit and delicate humor, Good Omens is a story for everyone about the end of everything.