Seán Delaney explains why the dark comedy Good Omens is his favourite book.
Good Omens is the product of two heavyweights of the fantasy world, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. While Pratchett is most known for writing the Discworld series and Gaiman for writing the likes of American Gods and Stardust, Good Omens is a novel that combines the talents of both writers.
The set-up of the book is very simple: the world is about to end. The son of Satan has been born on earth and is destined to usher in the apocalypse. However, the angel, Aziraphale and a demon, Crowley both think the end of the world would be a lot of work, so they agree to try and sabotage it. The narrative draws both from popular culture sources such as The Omen, but also more classical sources like John Milton’s Paradise Lost to create a story that is hilarious and endlessly entertaining.
“It was difficult to imagine how Gaimen’s intense imagery and sprawling plots would match with Pratchett’s jocular prose and often off the wall characters.”
The real strength of the book lies, however, in the way in which the authors blend their individual styles. Although I’m a fan of both of them individually, it was difficult to imagine how Gaiman’s intense imagery and sprawling plots would match with Pratchett’s jocular prose and often off the wall characters. However these styles entwine perfectly in this text. It is one of the few books that I found myself physically laughing at while I was reading it, but it also sucked me into the story and characters so that I was always invested in the narrative of the book outside of the comedy.
The characters are well defined and either likeable or absolutely detestable (the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and Adam the Antichrist are my particular favourites). The fresh twist on the biblical elements of the story made for an interesting read. Although the story of the end of the world in biblical terms is quite familiar to most, Pratchett and Gaiman twist it under the fantasy and comedy modes to change it into something else entirely, making it more entertaining.
I think in summation, the reason why Good Omens is my favourite book is that every time I read it, I enjoy it as much as I did the last time. The combination of styles, the comedy, the story, and the twist on the biblical story all serve to create a piece that I find myself always coming back to.