Written in 1990, Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman tells the story of the end of the world (or, rather, the lack thereof). Foretold by Agnus Nutter, a witch from the 1600’s, Earth was finally going to end, and heaven and hell would have their final faceoff. Unfortunately for this Divine Plan, Crowley, a not-very-evil demon, and Aziraphale, a not-so-holy angel, would really rather keep Earth around. The Antichrist is lost, four eleven year olds defeat the devil, and no one really knows what is ever happening.
It’s loads of fun.
The thing about Good Omens is that it manages to tackle religion and popular Bible stories without being particularly sacrilegious or blasphemous – the tone remains lighthearted and comedic throughout, despite the seriousness of the plot. Pratchett and Gaiman manage not to take themselves too literally, resulting in a much more successful book.
Still, this can have its downsides. On occasion, the writing can be so far-fetched that it is difficult to follow the real happenings of the plot versus the metaphorical ones, especially considering the fantastical storyline. Practhett and Gaiman unfortunately didn’t do enough to fix this, and readers are left confused. However, the novel still stands up – once the long bits of (possibly?) metaphorical writing are done, the characterization and dialogue really shines through.
The best dynamic in the novel is between Crowley and Aziraphlae, the demon-angel duo. Both sent to Earth by their respective bosses, Heaven and Hell, the two eventually fall in love with humanity, and team up to save it from impending doom. What makes the characters click so nicely is the clear duality in them – Crowley is, by all definitions, evil, but his “fall from heaven” is caused only from asking questions. He does not feel any need to be particularly despicable. Aziraphale, on the other hand, loves a bit of self-indulgence. He owns a bookshop that is never open, and saves the world primarily to keep sushi restaurants around. The two bond over their shared love of the Earth, while maintaining their differences and “hatred” for each other.
Overall, Good Omens is a light, comedic novel, with strong characterization and dynamics.