The Kindle edition of Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett that I downloaded was a 2011 reprint edition from William Morrow (publisher) sold by Harper Collins Publishers. At four hundred thirty-three pages, the novel is such a huge collection of very funny stuff and observations that it is best read in segments. While you are reading something else. If you get bogged down in something a bit too serious (even a book!) you would have the comfortable knowledge that you have a collection of absurdities in reserve that can pull you out of dull situations.
It is a cult classic and I am not going to waste a bunch of time trying to come up with superlatives not yet used. It is worth reading the reviews such as the ones I found on Amazon. The novel is not everyone’s cup of tea; there are many negative ones. Most of the negative ones I read were of Neil Gaiman and those reviewers complained about a difference in the Gaiman style as compared to his other works. I felt those reviewers were unfair. I can safely bet there are a bunch of Christian religious fundamentalists (not extremists) which would not even attempt to see the humor in the naming and depictions of various members of the holy (and unholy) establishment. Who would have the temerity to suggest that War, Death, and Famine could keep their original Four Horsemen names but Pestilence was going to have to accept an upgrade to Pollution due to the demands of technology?
Back to two complaints I have about the edition I read. (1) Who cares about publisher and publishers and reprint editions and the “when” of an edition? Me, when the novel becomes hard to read. Throughout this edition, there were symbols that looked like this * throughout the novel. I couldn’t initially find what they referred to. The story was moving along nicely at its usual speed of light and ignoring the symbols didn’t hinder its movement at all. Then I found all the referenced items at the end of the novel. And they were interesting. But at that point, there were no page references and I couldn’t easily go back to what they referred to. Grrrr! So, for a better reading experience, click on the tiny symbols. They will take you to the reference. Then click the back button on the Kindle App and it will take you back to the page you were on … maybe. I don’t know how it works when you are reading the novel on several devices at once and synchronization kicks in. That is what caused me problems.
(2) This book was written by two authors in sort of a back-and-forth style. If one couldn’t get past a certain point (make it funny) the other kicked in new ideas. Through lots and lots of conference calls, they came up with this. Of course, Gaiman’s style was different! I am sure both he and Terry Pratchett made compromises in their final submission. I found many of the negative reviewer comments irrelevant.
Now a bit about content. Here are some of the lines I found attention grabbing. Having read these, no way I could put the book down. After reading the subtitle I was hooked. “The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch.” How could I walk away from that? It quickly became apparent that Agnes had written a book predicting the Apocalypse, the end of Days. And, looking at the table of contents (of this novel, not the one by Agnes) we can see that it is going to be very soon. It is a matter of days. Certain events and signs must happen first (re: the four Horsemen) but a lot of subordinate characters, angels and lesser angels, demons and lesser demons, Witchhunters, and innocent bystanders go in search for the missing ingredient, the Antichrist. The Antichrist, appropriately named Adam, has not exactly gotten sidetracked in his mission. He was never informed of the mission. He grew up as a “normal” boy. Although he always seemed to be the leader of any group, the one with the best ideas, and the ability to bend everyone else to his will, he did not act knowingly as the Antichrist. He is simply known by his nickname “The 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. (p. 27). At least that is what Crowley, Satan’s representative on Earth, calls his soon-to-be-master.
This is a hilarious, sarcastic, cynical, and absurd look at the fragility of human nature. For those who want to relate absurd happenings to literal happenings in present day reality, there is lots of material to allow a reader to do that.
But I couldn’t stop laughing and didn’t want to spoil it with reality. I will read more novels with the Gaiman name. And I will take care of them. I will not treat them in a way described at the beginning of this novel. “If we run across a shiny new copy, it’s usually because the owner’s previous five have been stolen by friends, struck by lightning or eaten by giant termites in Sumatra. You have been warned. Oh, and we understand there’s a copy in the Vatican library.” (p. 2).