Hi guys, I finally read this book! I had meant to read this for so long, and it kept being recommended to me. After I finished American Gods (like…10 years ago), I checked Good Omens out from the library. I expected it to be very similar to American Gods, for some reason, so I kind of…just ignored it? Even though I really liked American Gods, I needed a break from Gaiman I guess? So I returned it to the library and went on my way. But lately, I found myself with an unexpectedly long layover, and my friend had just given me the paperback. So I read it. I finished it before boarding. I’m not sure what took me so long. (It was not very much like American Gods.)
Y’all mostly know the plot, of course: Aziraphale and Crowley, angel and demon, respectively, have been around since the Garden of Eden, working for their respective sides and reporting back to their supervisors. Despite their differing allegiances, they’ve developed a camaraderie – after all, they’re the only ones who have been around this long, together, on Earth. Now, the End of the World is upon them: Antichrist, hell-hound, 4 horsemen, etc. Hijinks ensue.
I feel like the Cannonball Book Club discussion questions are a great way to organize my thoughts on the book, even though I missed the book club by about … 8 months.
This collaboration between Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett is quick-witted and quirky, does it live up to your expectations?
Yes and no! Yes because I totally get why people like this book. It’s clever, funny, and keeps up the pace. I especially loved Crowley (I think I’m not in the minority here…) and his asides like “humans came up with that one all on their own.” No because, honestly, the supporting characters were mostly kind of meh to me? I liked Agnes, I liked Anathema, but Adam and Shadwell and Newt were a little tedious by the end–like, they simultaneously had too much screen time for kind of boring characters, and not enough screen time such that I didn’t feel like I really got to know them. I just wanted more Crowely and Aziraphale. On the whole, it did live up to my expectations, though.
A few Cannonballers and I feel this book has a woman problem, did you notice it and it detract from your enjoyment?
I didn’t notice this until the end, really, but yes, it did detract a bit. I liked how War was a woman, and , and I liked Anathema and Agnes. But the more I read, the more I thought that Madame Tracey could have been a lot more interesting, and Anathema didn’t need Newt like, at all? Anathema-Newt seemed like just a way to shoehorn in 1. the “my grandfather burned your grandmother at the stake” ha ha ha, and 2. a sex scene. Yawn. I think they could have given Madame Tracey SO much more interesting without even changing the broad strokes of her character.
Crowley and Aziraphale view the world from very different angles, but does that mean they view it differently?
I feel like one of the points of the book was that they don’t actually view it very differently at all. They’re both kind of rooting for humanity, and they both have a certain respect for human free will and ingenuity–as well as a certain doubt in their bosses’ plans and methods.
Did the actions in Good Omens feel fated? Were good and evil always going to come out this way?
It didn’t feel fated to me. It felt like a rousing call to individual action! Sure, the end of the world is upon us, but all you need to do is literally SHOW UP (ahem, Newt) and you have a shot at upturning everything!
Children characters in books are notoriously difficult to do well. How did Adam and the Them strike you? Plot moppets or something else?
I think Adam could have been a little more interesting. I also thought the Them started out kind of menacing but then ended up being…not? I liked the idea, the Antichrist hanging out with his friends in the woods, being 11 years old. But the characterization of the group itself seemed a little wobbly. I think they nailed the characterization of their internal dynamics though – the roles of each friend in the group; the languid days just waiting to be filled with an imaginary game of Spanish Inquisition; the fact that they were way smarter than the adults thought they were, but still had a childlike innocence around them.
Do you feel comic satire ages well? What about this one in particular?
I think it can. Satire is necessarily of its time, but if its done well I think you can get the point long after the zeitgeist has past. It won’t be as funny, of course. I think Good Omens has aged well, but there are definitely era-specific jokes that fell flat. See “woman problem,” above.
The greater satire is, I think, still extremely relevant. I great up very religious and in my 20s started to question the religion of my youth: they gave a lot of lip service to love/kindness/beatitudes, but all the apocalyptic predictions amount to, basically: Jesus is gonna win because he has more firepower than Satan. Jesus wins because he HAS to win. This book takes the underpinnings of that idea and shows it for what it is. Which is what satire is supposed to do. I kinda wish I’d read it in my 20s.
What from the book do you most want to see play out on screen in the TV mini-series?
I’m three episodes in to the show now and the Crowley-Aziraphale relationship is everything I wanted it to be.
3.75 stars: Good book, fun read, will recommend, with some concerns about female and supporting characters.