I missed last week’s Sunday Review, due to having sat at my computer doing paperwork for 12 hours straight. I’m not even exaggerating. Silly course and its silly forms about forms (still not exaggerating) but that is all done now. Service resumes as usual.
This week I’ve chosen to take a look at the fabulous Good Omens by Terry Pratchett – a must for anyone hoping to write comic fantasy, or comic writing at all really.
Author: Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Genre: Comic Fantasy
Summary (from Wikipedia)
It is the coming of the End Times: the Apocalypse is near, and Final Judgment will soon descend upon the human race. This comes as a bit of bad news to the angel Aziraphale (who was the angel of the Garden of Eden) and the demon Crowley (who, when he was originally named Crawly, was the serpent who tempted Eve to eat the apple), respectively the representatives of God and Satan on Earth, as they’ve actually gotten quite used to living their cozy, comfortable lives and, in a perverse way, actually have taken a liking to humanity. As such, since they’re both good friends (despite supposedly being polar opposites, representing Good and Evil as they do), they decide to work together and keep an eye on the Antichrist, destined to be the son of a prominent American diplomat stationed in Britain, and thus ensure he grows up in a way that means he can never decide simply between Good and Evil and, therefore, postpone the end of the world.
Unfortunately, Warlock, the child everyone thinks is the Anti-Christ is, in fact, a perfectly normal eleven-year-old boy. Owing to a bit of a switch-up at birth, the real Anti-Christ is in fact Adam Young, a charismatic and slightly otherworldly eleven-year-old who, despite being the harbinger of the Apocalypse, has lived a perfectly normal life as the son of typical English parents and, as a result, has no idea of his true powers. As Adam blissfully and naively uses his powers, creating around him the world of Just William (because he thinks that’s what an English child’s life should be like), the race is on to find him—the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse assemble and the incredibly accurate (yet so highly specific as to be useless) prophecies of Agnes Nutter, seventeenth-century prophetess, are rapidly coming true.
What’s Good About It
It’s brilliantly funny, from keenly observed humour in the every day, to the utterly absurd (an incident with a flying saucer spouting advice about environmental preservation comes to mind) there are many moments that will make you laugh out loud. The characters are diverse and delightful, the plot is involving and fast paced and it’s written by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. There isn’t really a better accolade for a book than that, in my opinion.
What’s Not So Good
It jumps around a bit – not necessarily an issue, but it can be a bit frustrating if you have a favourite character and want to get back to them, but have to wait a couple of chapters before they pop up again. But everyone does pop up regularly, and a towards the climatic ending, the scenes get shorter and shorter, so you are never away from your favourite characters for long.
Why Should Writers Read It
No one does humour better than Terry Pratchett, and no one does dark humour better than Neil Gaiman. Together they are a formidable team. Anyone who hopes to include any element of humour in their writing, be it a specifically comic story, or just a humorous character or scene, should read this book and take notes – it’s a masterclass in funny.