Thursday, April 13, 2017

#CBR9 Review #07: Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

This one started out strong and intriguing, but rather than growing as time went on, it ultimately got a bit muddy throughout the second half. Overall, the tone of this collaboration between Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett is quick-witted and quirky, and would you expect anything else? However, it ultimately didn’t quite live up to the potential I felt was established within the beginning of the novel.

Good Omens is centered on the apocalypse, which is to be brought about by the antichrist. But things are amok, as the child that was supposed to be planted within one particular family in order to begin the apocalypse actually ends up with another, and therefore lacks in any demonic or angelic influence throughout his life. But regardless of where he is, heaven and hell want a war, and everyone is trying to figure out just how to stop it, including a young witch whose ancestor made incredibly accurate prophecies as to how things would turn out during this apocalyptic showdown.

Now this sounds pretty serious, but the whole switcheroo is actually quite funny, as well as the strange prophecies and way all the characters come to connect to one another, including some neat personifications of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (in this version, Pestilence being replaced by Pollution). But when I say all the characters, this leads me to one of the biggest issues of this novel, which is that there are just too many. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy novels and stories with a lot of characters, but the problem I found here was that they don’t all seem to be really necessary or to truly fit together within the same story. A little trimming of extraneous storylines that they suddenly had to wrap up could have been a benefit, as it wouldn’t feel like loose-ends were just suddenly being shuffled in to make sure everything was covered.

In terms of storyline, I found myself very engrossed and interested in the first half of the novel. There was some serious potential set up, with a lot of quick-witted humor and absurdity. This fun tone managed to continue throughout the novel, yet the second half really fell short for me personally after such a strong beginning. The whole second half seemed to be creating such a long and dramatic buildup to… a conclusion that felt like nothing. Like they teased a battle or some kind of conflict and yet there was just talk then, “Everything is cool, see ya later.” You know how in the last Twilight novel they prepare for a big battle, then just talk for a few minutes about the battle and everyone goes home without there actually being a fight? Yeah. It felt kind of like that to me. It’s not like a big showdown is really necessary in every story, but with just such a long period of time building up to this one event, you’d think there would be more to it, you know?

I mean, there are definitely some intriguing themes present in Good Omens regarding humanity, the absurdity of the way of the world, the concept of fate, etc, but these are almost overshadowed by the continued attempts to be quirky and witty over coherent. However I want to give a seriously big shoutout to my favourite line in the book, which was, “Most books on witchcraft will tell you that witches work naked. This is because most books on witchcraft are written by men.” I actually stopped and sent that bit to my friends because I loved it so much!

So, overall, I’m not really sure about Good Omens. I was interested while I was reading, but also… not??? It’s a mixed bag. I can definitely see others liking it given that it’s pretty quick-witted throughout, but it just failed to completely hold my attention the entire way to the end.

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