Facing The End Of The World: Reading Good Omens

There aren’t many things that can be said about Good Omens that haven’t already been said plenty of times over. I was one of those basic people who picked this book up after watching the recent TV adaptation. My local library went from holding 4 copies to 10 copies (with more on order) to compensate for demand, with over 20 reservations last time I checked. And if any book deserves a resurgence of this level, it’s Good Omens. 

Good Omens was an absolute ride. If you haven’t read it and like reading fantasy/sci-fi/speculative fiction, this is a must for you. I’m going to be recommending it to literally everyone, but these people in particular need to read this book. That being said, I assume all these people have read the book and I’m just late to the party. But still, if you haven’t read it, then you should. 

‘If you haven’t read it and like reading fantasy/sci-fi/speculative fiction, this is a must for you.’

The concept is excellent. It feels very creative and original, staying fresh decades on. There are plenty of apocalypse books around, but none that I’ve read so far feel anything like this one. As was to be expected from Gaiman and Pratchett, it is witty, clever and hilarious. I’m not a big fan of absurdity but this perfectly toed the line for me between reality and ridiculous. There was just enough realism to make it familiar and just enough absurdity to keep it brilliant. 

Pratchett and Gaiman merge their writing styles so wonderfully that a reader could be forgiven for believing it is a single author book. While there are some characters or portions that have a certain flavour, the end result is amazingly cohesive. It is easily the most crafted and smooth dual author book I’ve read. I loved that they wrote everything together, rather than separating the characters and writing that way. Honestly, I’m still perplexed by how they pulled it off. The only explanation? Wizardry. 

‘The only explanation? Wizardry. ‘

The narrative style was really enjoyable. After watching the show, I thought that the multiple perspectives was going to lend itself too much to the TV style and not enough to the writing. I was wrong. It was wonderful. It gave the story an all-encompassing scope and meant that some characters who would have been secondary became some of my favourites (Anathema, can we be best friends?). 

The lack of regular chapters, a bugbear of mine at the start, was actually perfectly matched to the multiple perspectives as they flowed along together and meant there was less interruption in the narrative. I think there was only once or twice that I got lost and given that it was midnight (yeah that’s late for me now) and my eyes were stinging and screaming for sleep, I think these moments were no fault of the book. 

The characters are great. The relationship between Crowley and Aziraphale is just perfect. While unlikely friendships are a bit of a trope by now, this one knocks it out of the park. It doesn’t feel cliche or naff, just feels genuine and fun. Their banter is laugh-out-loud funny and they certainly make the book what it is.

‘The relationship between Crowley and Aziraphale is just perfect.’

There are some outdated references that did twinge a little. While no book can be expected to remain impervious to time, some of the slang really sticks out today. I did have a few issues with Shadwell. I’m not 100% sure if it was necessary for him to be racist. I recognise that it added to the characterisation of him as judgemental and prone to critique others, but it just didn’t feel fully settled. This is my only criticism of the whole book though, so that’s a pretty outstanding result. 

If you’re a fan of the book and wondering if you should watch the show, I would recommend it. The show writing easily stands up to the book, having been written by Gaiman himself. It is true to the novel and hits all the same beats. Any additional scenes in the show only enhanced the plot and added a little point of difference. Though, I have had friends comment that they found the show boring since it is so close to the book so it felt too familiar for them.

As one of my friends recently said ‘Still slaps. Absolute banger. 5 stars.’ 

Title: Good Omens
Author: Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
Publisher: Too many publishers and versions to list
RRP: $11-$200 (depending on how many illustrations you’d like)
Extent: 416 pages
Read If You Like: I don’t even know! This was a first for me and I’m not going to pretend that I’m well-versed enough in genre fiction to give this a crack honestly.

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