Written By: Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Published By: Gollancz (UK) and Workman (US)
Narrated By: Martin Jarvis
Page Count: 288
Release Date: May 1st, 1990
Link to Purchase (Amazon)
On the 31st of this month, Amazon Prime will be debuting their latest original streaming series: ‘Good Omens‘. Naturally, the series trailer caught my eye, if for no other reason than David Tennant starring as Crowley. Then I remembered that I had seen a book with the same title in a shop a while back. One written by none other than Neil Gaiman, along with his partner-in-crime: Terry Pratchett.
My interest was officially peaked. And luckily for me, I had just gotten another free book from Audible (not sponsored). If I was going to watch the new series, may as well know my stuff on the source material.
How else am I going to tear the adaptation apart?
Plot: Countdown to the End of the World
Good Omens has one of the most fun and charming plots out of any book I’ve read in the last year. Which is odd, considering it’s all about the end of the world. And the main character is the Anti-Christ.
The book takes place in a world where Angels and Demons have long interfered in the affairs of humans. But now, this world was ending, as Satan’s son was born and set into the world. In eleven years time, the great battle between Heaven and Hell will begin, and all life on Earth shall vanish. But when the Anti-Christ comes up missing, it is up to the Angel Azirifel and the Demon Crowley to find him. And, hopefully, they can stop the end of the world while they’re at it.
The story is expertly written, in terms of structure, characters and comedy. Pratchett and Gaiman expertly introduce threads at the beginning of the story that seem completely mundane and irrelevant, then pay them off in an incredibly interesting way at the end. Each character is, in some way, their own brand of crazy, which lends itself well to the comedy. But their character arcs aren’t left by the wayside for the sake of dark humor; each one undergoes some semblance of development, more often than not in a very satisfying way. And when the story slows down to tell a joke, said joke is perfectly timed and delivered. Better yet: they rely on the characters, rather than the spectacle of the characters doing something dumb and silly.
It’s also incredibly well paced. Each scene is just long enough, without ever dragging or going too quickly. It never feels like the plot is meandering or blowing past important events or character moments. Everything that needs time is given it, and they are fleshed out beautifully, as well as hilariously.
But the book isn’t all fun and games. When the story’s tone takes a turn for the darker, Gaiman and Pratchett don’t shy away. The more serious moments are given the gravity that they need and deserve. And they can be genuinely powerful, creepy or upsetting. Sometimes all three.
Though sometimes they add a sprinkle of comedy in there. Comedy so dark that it makes your coffee look white.
Voice: Armageddon Has Never Been So Absurd
Both Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman are masters of the art of storytelling. Particularly in absurdist, over-the-top comedy grounded in character and dialogue. Together, the two craft a story that is simply delightful to read (or listen to, in my case) from beginning to end.
Every single word, and every line of dialogue, is perfectly crafted. Their use of metaphor to accentuate the comedy of a scene is wonderful. Which becomes even more hilarious when the story goes into a footnote, which reveals that the line above wasn’t in fact a metaphor, but a real thing that happened or is currently happening.
Seriously, if you guys haven’t read any of the works from either of these authors, you need to fix that. They are some of the best in the business.
Presentation: Lovely Orchestral Music, Followed By the End of All Things
Martin Jarvis is an excellent narrator. Easily one of the best I’ve talked about in the brief time I’ve been writing the ‘How’s This Book?‘ series. And the audio book has just enough extra flare to put it above most of the others we’ve discussed before.
Jarvis has an excellent talent for voice acting. He gives each character a distinct and consistent voice, which makes it super easy to follow along while casually doing other things. His cadence and delivery match the story perfectly, as he reads everything with just enough wit and insanity to punctuate the writing on display. He is a perfect narrator for this book, and I wouldn’t trade him in for anyone.
Every now and then, in between the segmented parts of the story, a short piece of orchestral music will play. These really aren’t much, and they don’t add a whole lot to the experience. But they are incredibly nice pieces of music, so I have a hard time complaining about them. Plus, they’re a refreshing little break in-between the story.
I wonder if they’ll be used at all for the Amazon Prime series. That would be nice.
Even if you have no interest in watching the Amazon series, I’d still highly recommend you check out ‘Good Omens‘. It is a fantastic piece of literature, one that I’d advise anyone to read. It is a classic through-and-through, one that I have no ready complaints for.
Give me a couple of years. Maybe I’ll have something for you then. But as of now, the only possible complaint I have is ‘the show might be bad’.
I really hope it isn’t. But I also really hope it is, so I have something fun to talk about. I’m not sure which side of that is stronger.