Book – “What’s your favorite book?” is a cruel and unusual question to ask any librarian, but when absolutely forced to give an answer, Good Omens is where I tend to land. In an effort to keep this review from getting too gushing, then, I’m going to try to focus more on comparisons than description, because allowing me near superlatives in this case is a dangerous prospect. Let me just give the basics on plot–namely, it’s a humorous take on the Apocalypse (no, really)–and hurry from there to the land of “you’ll like this if”.
The obvious ones first: if you already enjoy the solo work of either Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett, then Good Omens is unquestionably worth your time. Even though it was written before the explosion of the internet and the resulting acceleration of mashup culture, it’s a perfect example of the kind of textual remixing that both writers did and do so well, deconstructing classic stories and themes and rebuilding them into something fresh and self-aware. It has all of Sir Terry’s boundless humor (and footnotes!) and sudden moments of profound emotional insight, with Gaiman’s unpretentious lyricism and finger on the pulse of the collective unconscious, and it reads so seamlessly that it’s impossible to tell that it comes from two different authors.
But you by no means need to already be a fan of either writer to love Good Omens; it was the first thing I read of either of theirs, and I was hooked from page one. If you already love Douglas Adams, Monty Python, Eddie Izzard or Christopher Moore, you’re a shoe-in; Good Omens is all about that same irreverent sense of humor. It’s a great choice, too, for fans of Roald Dahl or Ray Bradbury or Kurt Vonnegut, sharing their sometimes dark yet deeply compassionate lens on humanity. It’s for fantasy and sci-fi fans, but for humor fans too. It’s for the reader who wants a quick read that deserves to be called ‘light’ yet tackles big themes and doesn’t shy away from emotional impact. It’s for pretty much anybody who doesn’t mind allowing humor and religion to mix (never, in my opinion, in a way that mocks anyone or their beliefs). And it is–to allow myself just the one moment of gushing–an absolute, unqualified delight.