After being unimpressed with Neverwhere and dismissing it as Early Gaiman, I was delighted to read Good Omens and find that even though this was written several years before Neverwhere, it’s just as good as Gaiman’s later works. Possibly this is due to Pratchett’s influence – at the end of the book, there’s a nice afterword where the two authors talk about the process of creating the story and who was responsible for writing which parts, so you can get an idea of how the story was shaped and developed. I’ve never read anything by Terry Pratchett before this and was unfamiliar with his work, but I’m very familiar with Gaiman’s writing style by this point, having read five or six of his books. That being said, I was unable to see where Gaiman’s writing ended and Pratchett’s began, which was ultimately a good thing. If two authors must insist on co-writing a book, they should at least try to mesh their writing so the reader doesn’t notice the book has two authors (I’m looking at you, David Levithan and John Green).
It’s unfair of me to compare this book to the show Supernatural, because for one thing, the book predates the show by over a decade, but throughout the book, I couldn’t help thinking what a killer season of Supernatural this book would make. Perhaps the authors could negotiate some kind of crossover? Both works feature a delightful demon named Crowley; the thing practically writes itself. Anyway, the “Prophecies” referred to in the title are a reference to a book written by a seventeenth-century prophet named Agnes Nutter, who wrote down every single (extremely accurate) prophecy she ever had in a book and passed it to her descendents, who have been decoding said prophecies ever since. Her biggest one concerns the coming of the Antichrist and the end of the world, and her descendents aren’t the only ones who are involved. Angels and demons are both preparing for a holy war, and our representatives for the two sides are Crowley, the previously-mentioned demon, and Aziraphale, an angel. Both of them agree on one thing: they actually kind of like living on Earth, and would rather not get involved in a destructive holy war, thanks. They decide to work together to prevent the apocalypse, but there’s one big snag: through a series of mixups at the hospital, the infant Antichrist is delivered to the wrong family, and neither the angels or the demons realize that there’s been a mistake. So the kid intended to bring Hell on earth grows up unaware of his role, and meanwhile the angels and demons are preparing the wrong kid for war, and the four horsemen of the apocalypse are gathering.
(Seriously – tell me this wouldn’t make the best Supernatural season arc ever. Although now that I think about it, I doubt the show writers would be interested, because there are very few opportunities for Man Pain and all the female characters are well-rounded and don’t get killed off in service of further Man Pain, so in that sense this book is actually the polar opposite of Supernatural.)
The writing is funny, sharp, and as I said, flows cleanly between the two authors. It’s a very lighthearted take on the end of the world, and the humor was very reminiscent of Douglas Adams. My only big complaint was the climax, which takes too long to start (the story switches between multiple POV characters, and we have to check in with ALL of them, repeatedly, when the apocalypse is just starting to get good) and then is over too quickly, with a conclusion that was a little too sugary-sweet for my tastes. But all in all, it was a fun, fast-paced story, and a delightful take on the apocalypse and everyone involved.
Verdict: four out of five stars