After having this book recommended to me for several years, I have finally finished Good Omens. I think my enjoyment of the book suffered from having read it over lunch hours, in small pieces over a few weeks, or perhaps my expectations were a bit high.
This book is a sharp satire of Christianity, Armageddon, and pop culture, where Armageddon is sent awry by a series of mishaps and coincidences. It starts with a bureaucratic mix-up at the hospital and a conspiracy between two opponents who find they prefer the status quo rather than the uncertainty of the battle that seems destined to come. An angel and a demon decide to cooperate in educating the child Antichrist, as a means of hopefully balancing his nature so that Armageddon could be avoided. Of course, they are focusing their efforts on the wrong child, and the entire thing is seemingly left to chance for the most part. The only person who seems able to see where the Divine Plan is headed is the descendant of a witch who recorded her startlingly accurate prophecies in a manner that is difficult to understand.
I enjoyed how, despite the sense of predestination that hangs over the forthcoming Armageddon, the events of the story hinged on so many haphazard events and accidents. Even the angels and demons seemed bumbling, and the English seem particularly good at skewering bureaucracy, to my endless delight. I liked some of the minor characters more than the main characters, particularly Anathema and Newton, who seemed very mechanical to me. Characters like Famine, the old busybody writing letters to the editor, and minor plot points like the telemarketer are very funny, however.
It was clever, funny, and of course well written, but it just wasn’t as compelling as I find most of Gaiman’s work. I know I am the exception in this, as this book has an enormous and devoted following. I have not read anything by Terry Pratchett before, but have read lots of Neil Gaiman. I have friends who adore Pratchett, so I will have to try some of his books and then try again with Good Omens.