Anna’s Book Nook: Good Omens

Anna consults her angelic puppy, Luna, and devil dog, Fonzie, for their thoughts on the end of the world.

Photo illustration by Anna Keneally

Anna consults her angelic puppy, Luna, and devil dog, Fonzie, for their thoughts on the end of the world.

Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice, but according to Good Omens by Terry Patchett and Neil Gaiman, what we actually have to worry about is a preteen anarchist and his dog named Dog. Good Omens is a hilarious, beautifully written and thought provoking book that could suit anyone. I had never actually laughed out loud while reading before I read this book; up until now I never thought it was possible.

Hell has decided that it is time to put in motion the apocalypse millenia in the making. After the end of the world, the forces of good and evil will be put up against each other to determine the fate of humanity. To start their plan, the antichrist, Adam, is placed on Earth in a family. On his 11th birthday, the end of the world will begin, with Adam leading Hell into battle against Heaven. There are two problems with this plan: the book collector angel named Aziraphale and his long-time demon friend, Crowley. Both have taken a liking to Earth and the universe, so the timing of the apocalypse is inconvenient to say the least. The majority of the book takes place in a mere five days following the antichrist’s 11th birthday, keeping the reader informed on the activities of everyone from an amature witch hunter, to a practical occultist, to an 11-year-old antichrist and the four horse people of the apocalypse. Despite the short framing, the story still retains all the fast-paced elements of a longer endeavor.

By far, my favorite element of the entire story was the footnotes added to almost every page. The notes come from an all-knowing editor, familiar with the affairs of Heaven, Hell, Elvis and humans. All of the notes add to the world building by providing context and sometimes unsolicited opinions. The apocalypse tends to be a dark subject, so the footnotes feel like little check-ins to untether myself from the real world and catapult me right back into the story.

Good Omens is hilarious without a doubt, but not mindless. Every element of the story made my eyes widen because of how much thought that the authors had to put in to develop all of the characters and in turn the story. For example, the four horsemen of this apocalypse are War, Famine, Death and Pollution. War: a fiery redhead journalist who always leaves chaos in her wake, Famine: a highly successful dietitian who makes starvation popular, Pollution: a sickly man who never can hold a job, but tends to gravitate toward disasters like Chernobyl and more often oil rigs, and finally Death: a bit of an outsider, gives the rest the creeps. The personification of disasters in the Bible was just as two-dimensional men, but in this rendition, the personalities are extremely fitting and show just how much of a grip Hell has on the world.

The world is a scary and random place. Good Omens tells us to make sense of what you can and make jokes out of what you can’t. I think that is a great way to go about life. Books are a way to escape from the stress of the real world and this book is anything but that. It made me take a look straight at all of the problems humans have, which is terrifying. It was not a call to action or a guilt trip. It was just a moment to look the universe in the eye and make my own conclusion, which may just be to laugh. “God does not play dice with the universe; he plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared… to being involved in a obscure and complex variant of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won’t tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.” Make of that what you will.