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Review: Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

November 4, 2010

Good Omens coverTitle: Good Omens
Author: Gaiman, Neil and Terry Pratchett
Length: 412 pages
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher / Year: HarperTorch / 2006 (originally published in 1990)
Source: I won it from Reading With Tequila
Rating: 4.5/5
Why I Read It: I won it, and had heard a lot about both authors
Date Read: 29/10/10

I am honestly kicking myself for leaving this on my to be read pile for so long. It was seriously one of the funniest books I’ve read, ever. If not the funniest. Not just snorting or giggling funny, but actual laugh out loud throughout the whole thing. It was so funny, my roommate tells me that I was laughing in my sleep the night after reading it.

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…

OK, seriously, now do you understand? There isn’t really a lot I can say about this book. An angel who owns a used bookstore (not of course because he would actually sell anything, more as a front for his habit of collection), a demon who thinks the Fall was a bit harsh for a first time offense, God obviously has no humor, a witch, witchfinders, the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Satanist nuns, and of course the Antichrist all populate this novel.

Not only is the writing itself hilarious, it is full of various notes that are even funnier. For example, on page 298 it says that “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” This of course has an asterisk beside it to mark that there is a note at the bottom of the page relating to that. The note reads: “This is not actually true. The road to Hell is paved with frozen door-to-door salesmen. On weekends many of the younger demons go ice skating on it.”.

The book gives an examination of religion and blame and excuses. Crowley (the demon) and Aziraphale (the angel) have been on Earth together for so long that they’ve become friends. They work together and have a bit of an Arrangement where they keep each other up to date and help each other out. If one is going out of the way to a different area to do a job, they might as well save the other the trouble and do their work while in the area too, right? Ah the joys of teamwork! It turns out the adversary you know and work with might be more like you and have more in common with you than your superiors, they come to find.

Through these two main characters we also see how humans aren’t really good or evil, and how we all do our own thing. Several times Crowley expresses surprise at the things that humans think of, and he really thinks that demons could learn a few things from them. He and Aziraphale often think the same people are on their side, showing how tricky humans can be. It was also hilarious to see how Crowley was so up-to-date on modern conveniences compared to the other demons.

Basically, if the Apocalypse is to rely on these characters, we’re in trouble. Hilarious book that I highly recommend to all.

53 Comments leave one →
  1. November 4, 2010 8:54 am

    I have been waiting for you to review this, after seeing it in your pile, because I wanted to see how you rated it. I love Neil Gaiman but just don’t get Terry Pratchett and I found this book so difficult to read. I really started out enjoying it and then lost interest. It is extremely funny in some places but I felt it ran out of steam along the way. After your review, I might have to give it another go. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind or didn’t give it a chance because of Pratchett.

    • November 6, 2010 8:17 pm

      I have only read one Gaiman book and none by Pratchett previously. I now WANT to read many books by both though Trent :) The first half was definitely the best for me, but I loved the whole thing. Good luck!

  2. November 4, 2010 8:56 am

    lol. This is a book I would love to read. How funny. Some would call it blasphemy. I would love to know how the demon thinks of us. It shows that we can cooperate rather than antagonise at every level…

    • November 6, 2010 8:18 pm

      Definitely would be considered blasphemy by many Nana, but SO hilarious! And a lot about getting along with people :)

  3. Caitie F permalink
    November 4, 2010 9:18 am

    I loved this book! I really need to go read more of Prachett’s work (And finish with Gaiman’s too!). This book made me love fantasy again and everyone should read it! Great review, it reminded me to pass this on to a friend.

    • November 6, 2010 8:20 pm

      I really must read more by both authors as well Caitie F, and I can see why the book turned you back to fantasy again :)

  4. November 4, 2010 9:28 am

    hehehe, you know, I saved your review for last in my Reader today because I saw it was this book. So awesome. I’m so happy a copy of this is coming to me from Paperback Swap! :D I love your summary. I had no idea how to summarize this book!!

    • November 6, 2010 8:21 pm

      I just copied the summary from the back of the book Amanda! Cheating I know ;) But it worked. So glad it was so gooooood!

  5. November 4, 2010 10:13 am

    This book is for me – how I love to laugh when reading… perhaps I may laugh in my dream also…lol!

  6. November 4, 2010 10:28 am

    This book is a family favorite, and everyone in the house has read it. My husband and I actually bonded over this book on one of our first dates, and we passed it along to the kids a few months ago. They loved it as well. It’s extremely funny, and I think it’s time for a reread! Thanks for your excellent review on this book. I am always glad when I see it has another fan!

    • November 6, 2010 8:22 pm

      I can’t imagine people not liking the book zibilee ;) So great that your whole family enjoys it.

  7. November 4, 2010 10:32 am

    Ha! Sounds like a riot. I’ve enjoyed getting to know Pratchett and Gaiman the past few years but I just can’t imagine them togther. I think Amanda said she listened to this one? Think I could use some laugh out loud audio right now. Glad you enjoyed it–hopefully the survival of our world does not rely on these guys! ;)

    • November 6, 2010 8:23 pm

      Together is hilarious Trish, I have to say. But then, I don’t have much experience of them other than this book. Amanda did say the audio is great.

  8. November 4, 2010 10:48 am

    I’m with Trent, I adore Gaiman (have a discussion on Sandman going right now!), but Terry Pratchett doesn’t do as much for me as he could. however, satanic nuns? good and evil working together and not being super good or super evil? blasphemy? I may have to read this. ;)

  9. November 4, 2010 10:56 am

    I read this at school and loved it. My friends and I tried to write a similiar story, each person writing a different character and mine was the love interest Mary, a librarian who loves dictionaries. Alas, the quality of writing left a lot to be desired;P

    Have you read anything else by Gaiman or Pratchett? I love their work and always wait eagerly for new ones to be published. I still have Pratchett’s latest (She Wears Midnight) to read and recommend Gaiman’s American Gods.

    • November 6, 2010 8:26 pm

      I have no idea how books would be co-written Chasing Bawa. Well, writing at all is beyond me! But together? Seems like so much to figure out together! And I’ve only read Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book other than this (which I loved!). I will definitely be looking for more.

  10. November 4, 2010 11:06 am

    This sounds hilarious! And I think my husband already has a copy of it, so I’m definitely going to read it. In fact, I think he tried to describe it to me once, but your description is much better :) Can’t wait to read it!

    • November 6, 2010 8:27 pm

      Hooray! Glad to hear that you have a copy Kristen, and can’t wait to hear your thoughts. And yeah, I just took the description from the back of my copy of the book!

  11. November 4, 2010 12:14 pm

    I love Terry Pratchett but not yet read anything by Neil Gaiman – he’s the reason I haven’t thought to read it yet because I’m unsure how it will effect the writing. But it does sound very funny, and I like the use of asterisks to further the humour.

    • November 6, 2010 8:28 pm

      Seems to be the opposite of most commenters so far Charlie. I can’t wait to discover both of the authors. I do hope if you give this book a try that you love it.

  12. November 4, 2010 2:48 pm

    I’ve had this one on my stacks for ages. Seriously, it’s embarrassing. It may have been on the TBR for 10 years now? Obviously I’m a goober and need to read it. That blurb grabbed me immediately!

  13. November 4, 2010 4:42 pm

    I just finished listening to this about an hour ago! The audiobook was hysterical–read by Martin Jarvis, who does a phenomenal job keeping everyone straight. I definitely need to read it again in print, though, because (as happens when I listen to an audiobook) I probably missed some extremely funny bits. Great review! I’m so happy you enjoyed Good Omens too :-)

    • November 6, 2010 8:30 pm

      I’ve heard good things about the audio Erin! The print version was just as good though! I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed it as well :)

  14. November 4, 2010 4:49 pm

    I love this too! My husband is a big Pratchett/Gaiman fan and convinced me to read this because i love the Omen movies. It’s a hoot! One of the most fun books I’ve ever read.

  15. November 4, 2010 7:17 pm

    I’m so glad you loved this, Amy :D It’s one of my very favourite books. Some days I can hardly believe it even exist – did my two favourite authors REALLY write a book together or did I imagine the whole thing? :P

    • November 6, 2010 8:31 pm

      LOL yes, it is amazing Ana. Now I need to read more by both authors!

  16. November 4, 2010 8:32 pm

    Oooo I’ve heard some fantastic things about Gaiman… and yet I’ve never read anything by him! I should get started. What am I waiting for?

  17. November 4, 2010 11:10 pm

    You should really try listening to the audio of Good Omens sometime! I own it, so I could burn it for you. It’s definitely in my top 10 audio books of all time.

    Have you read anything else by Terry Pratchett? After I read this I wanted to start the Discworld series, but I’m a little overwhelmed by how many books there in it!!

    • November 6, 2010 8:32 pm

      Apparently I should, but maybe not right away. And I haven’t read anything by Pratchett other than this, and am also very overwhelmed by the number of books in that series… :S Some day!

  18. November 4, 2010 11:16 pm

    This does sound funny. Something about the premise reminds me of Mark Twain’s Letters from the Earth.

    • November 6, 2010 8:33 pm

      I haven’t read that, but it must be good if you compare it laughingstars66 ;)

  19. November 5, 2010 8:51 am

    I haven’t read Gaiman or Prachett (except for GRAVEYARD BOOK) but it sounds like this is one I have to find!

    • November 6, 2010 8:33 pm

      That’s the only book I had read previous to this as well Rebecca! It was so good :)

  20. November 5, 2010 11:01 am

    As you know, I adore this book with a sort of worship that is probably not healthy. Alas, what can I do? I am so glad you read and enjoyed it. I highly recommend keeping your copy and re-reading it every now and then.

  21. November 5, 2010 6:26 pm

    This was my first Gaiman!!! I read it in high school and laughed soooo hard. Then I made my mom read it, and she loved it so much she gave it to everyone for Christmas/birthdays for the next few years. And every time I reread it, I laugh so hard my stomach hurts. Tis magic.

    • November 6, 2010 8:34 pm

      Ooohhh what a great choice to start with Eva! I can’t wait to reread it again at some point.

  22. November 5, 2010 10:40 pm

    Oh, gosh, I love this book. You’ve made me want to reread it, and I’m not sure I have it with me. Grrrrr.

    • November 6, 2010 8:34 pm

      Oh no, sorry about that Jenny. I hope you can track it down!

  23. November 8, 2010 8:42 pm

    Isn’t it hilarious??? I read this on the plane, and I just about choked from trying not to laugh out loud. Love it, love it, love it :)

    • November 8, 2010 11:22 pm

      Oh gosh Emily, I can’t even imagine reading this on an airplane! I’d have disrupted the whole flight. Good job! hehe

  24. November 11, 2010 8:03 pm

    Whoops, I missed this one!

    I’m so glad you reviewed it because I’ve had it on my wishlist forever, and I could really use some hilarious. With such glowing praise from you and funny examples, how can I not pick this one up?

    • November 11, 2010 11:34 pm

      I’m glad you found this then Steph! I definitely recommend the book if you need some hilarious. I hope you enjoy it.

  25. November 12, 2010 6:43 am

    You make me want to read it again (I must have read it ten times when I was growing up). I wonder why they’ve never wirtten anything together again as it was so good. The horsemen are one of my favourite parts, but Crowley makes this book amazing, love him.

    • November 12, 2010 6:00 pm

      Wow, that is a lot of readings of the same book Jodie – but I have to admit that I have books like that as well ;) I really liked the Horsemen too… but Crowley was the best!


  1. The End of 2010 Survey | Erin Reads

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