In preparation for the upcoming new Amazon series, I decided to reread “Good Omens.”
It’s probably been about a decade since I picked this up the first time, and while there were many parts that I thoroughly re-enjoyed, there were other parts that let me down. And not because it’s bad, but just because we’re getting farther and farther away from many of the contemporary nuances and details that were hilarious in the 2000s. Sadly, as time marches on, much of the ironic nuance in the jokes and satire don’t make sense simply because we’re missing the contemporary background. Published in 1990, the book is permeated with a late-1980s culture, which even though I lived through it, it took me a while to remember what things were being referenced, which pulled me out of the story. It’ll be like reading about memes and instagram thirty years from now.
That aside, the book is still hilarious and cleverly plotted, as all Pratchett and Gaiman works are. We have our sunglasses-wearing, Bentley loving demon Crowley, and his book-nerdy, highly pressed angel buddy, Azriphale, both of whom I really wanted more of throughout the novel. They’re the show stopping characters of the story, and I really wish we had a book of the two of them just going on adventures together. Then there’s the clever four horseman, embodied brilliantly in modern characters, as well as our Antichrist, Adam, who’s just an eleven-year-old kid looking to have fun with his friends.
The cast of characters are still lovable, and in true Gaiman/Pratchett fashion, the plot asks the big questions and answers them in a bombastic lunacy that will leave you both laughing and pondering in the best way possible. But in many ways, this book was a self-serving and happy experiment of its authors. Two men who love to write speculative fiction got together and decided to write a book for themselves. And they did, and it’s fun, and we have the privilege of looking inside. But there were many bits that, to me, seemed to have been more fun for them to write than for me to read. And that’s okay, because I believe the point of this book was for them. The fact that it was published was merely a bonus that we can get to enjoy.
Ten years ago, I would have given this book 5 stars because nothing Pratchett or Gaiman wrote could do wrong. But a decade later I’m a more nuanced reader (thank you, CBR), and as much as I am still loyal to these pillars of fantasy, I have to give an honest rating of 3 stars. It’s still worth it, and I’ll still reread it, but it’s a 3.
Bingo Square: Brain Candy