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I've always been a fan of Neil Gaiman; what he did in the comics community shaped the way graphic stories are now told. Being a lit kid, I eagerly sought out his contributions to literature and have, thus far, read a good handful.
Gaiman, as it is, is a storyteller of great power—his writing is packed with interesting character quirks, fantastic use of mythology, and very distinct narrative threads. What his writing is not packed with is lyrical power—Gaiman is more scriptwriter than novelist; his work is generally its most powerful when it's accompanied by visual representation (comics, film)--rarely in his prose are you suspended on a bed of lucid language. Rarely to you find a line so powerful it etches itself into your mind. This isn't a fault on his part, mind you, it's a very distinct idiosyncrasy: he comes from a line of storytellers of the camp-fire caste.
Prior to Good Omens, I had never read anything by Terry Pratchett—often I'd mindlessly browse over his books in bookstores out of a neglect of fantasy in my literary diet.
Good Omens is one of the novels that makes me see the error of my ways.
Packed with Gaiman's unerring mythological knowledge and what I can assume is Pratchett's strong sense of satire, the novel resonates a sense of horrible good cheer—the type of good cheer one can only feel when the apocalypse has come.
Set in the '90's, at the end of the world, we're given an insight to the workings of angels, demons, the four horsemen of apocalypse, prophetic witches and blundering witchfinders, and an eleven-year-old Antichrist. We're shown how they work, how magic and holy power works, and how, eventually, we're all pretty much doomed. We're shown this with an unbreakable air of hilarity.
I found myself in an odd rush, once I was twenty pages in, to discover the next page, the next line, the next burst of too-clever-for-its-own-good mischief. I read the whole latter half of the novel in one evening, only tearing myself away for trips out for food or to refill my water glass.
Along with being unendingly funny, the novel as a very honest nature—we're presented these comic moments of Armageddon, yes, but we're presented them with love and clarity—Gaiman and Pratchett obviously deeply care for these caricatures of myth, and they very clearly have an idea that we will, too.
If you're looking for a book that will give you a sense of lyrical power, seek elsewhere. If you're looking for a book that seems unlimitedly amusing, that will crawl up in your heart and stay, pick it up.”
ColinMoon wrote this review Tuesday, April 15, 2008.