Sunday, 21 December 2014

'Good Omens' by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (1990)

Synopsis: Armageddon is now approaching as predicted by a 17th century witch called Agnes Nutter. The mortal enemies-turned-reluctant friends Aziraphale and Crowley are getting seriously concerned about the upcoming end of the world. Aziraphale is an angel and a fussy and uptight rare bookseller. Crowley is a fast-living angel "who did not so much fall as saunter vaguely downwards". After living on Earth for 6000 years the pair have "gone native". They've decided that they quite like the world that they're living in and think that life will be pretty boring after the last battle. To stop the Armageddon, the pair then team up and go off on a quest to find the Antichrist who, thanks to a mix-up, has been brought up in a small English village called Tadfield.


Oh dear, I love Neil Gaiman and I've loved many of his solo novels (Neverwhere, The Graveyard Book, etc) but not all of his books have worked for me and Good Omens is one of those books. I feel especially disappointed because over the years I've read so many reviews where people have said that it's one of the funniest books that they've ever read and how it made them cry with laughter. It's made me question my sense of humour because I found Good Omens downright tedious. It's not that the book doesn't contain any hilarity at all because I did find the early chapters of the book really funny. However, the book also features quite a lot of different characters and subplots. The interactions between Aziraphale and Crowley are by far the best thing about the book but these characters will go away for chapters at a time and instead we have to read about Adam Young, Anathema Device, Newton Pulsifer and various other characters - and I found all of the chapters that concerned these characters extremely boring. To be honest I wasn't able to finish this book and gave up on it when I was about 2/3 of the way through. At any other time of the year I would have probably soldiered on and read the whole thing but since it's Christmas time I want to be reading something that I know I'll enjoy so I'm going to be re-reading Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey instead :)

Before I finish I just want to make it clear that even though I'm a Christian the reason why I didn't like this book had nothing to do with its subject matter. Firstly, because the book is a work of fiction and a comedy. It's obviously not something that the reader is supposed to be taking seriously. Secondly, because although Gaiman and Pratchett do playfully poke fun at Christianity at times I never ever got the sense that they were attacking Christianity and Christians. I think there's a huge difference between the two. I could never enjoy something if I thought it was an attack on my beliefs but I'll cheerfully accept some playful tongue in cheek humour. Of course every Christian has different standards on what they think is acceptable or appropriate but personally I didn't find this book remotely offensive. 

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