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zaterdag 11 oktober 2008

Good Omens

Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman's Good Omens tells the story of the coming of the End Times. The Anti-Christ is born and soon the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Famine, War, Pollution (Pestilence retired in 1936 after the discovery of penicillin) and Death, will be here to start off the Great War between Heaven and Hell. The problem is that the Angel Aziraphale (who used to have a fiery sword of justified vengeance, but thosee humans looked so cold) and the demon Crowley (who hisses slightly when he talks and had something to do with an apple and a tree) like the Earth the way it is. So, these unlikely long-time friends try to stop it from happening. The child who they think is the Son of Satan, is however a normal human. Due to a mix-up at birth, involving babbling satanist nuns, the Anti-Christ ends up growing up as a relatively normal child in Lower Tadfield, England. And so the race against time begins ...

The book was written when Terry Pratchett's star was starting to rise and Neil Gaiman was working on the Sandman graphic novels. Since then, the book has acquired somewhat of a cult status. Luckily I didn't know all of this when I started reading it. I've been a fan of Pratchett's work since a friend of mine introduced me to the Colour of Magic while studying (ahem) at the university. I only knew Neil Gaiman by name (I had heard of Sandman and American Gods), but I think I will become a fan of his work as well. Although there are some typical Pratchettisms in there, it is most definitely not a Discworld novel. The book has its own pace and character. What is very clear is that the combination of styles works very well.

Good Omens makes fun of the way people act towards one another and the planet (and a little bit of religion). The ending is so wonderfully naïve as to give you hope. But, although the story in itself is very nice, the most interesting part is the depiction of the characters. The story betrays a deep insight into people's motivations, hopes and frustrations. Definitely a must read. And now, to the bookstore to buy American Gods and some more Discworlds.

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