Monday, April 27, 2015

It's The End Of The World As We Know It

With the passing of Terry Pratchett, a great author who has contributed to the field of fantasy in a massive and wonderful way I had the urge to read one of his works.  To this end I chose Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman as this is most probably his most well known work, and I love Neil Gaiman as well so it was a win, win, win for me.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
The Antichrist has been born and the prophesied end of the world has now started.  Now this is understandably a big deal and with that we follow a couple of characters through the end of the world.  Our main duo are Crowley, a demon of hell who has spent a lot of time on earth and isn't really that bad of a fellow, and his unlikely buddy Aziraphale, an angel (and occasional rare book dealer) who has also spent a lot of time on earth and is not quit as angelic as one would think.  The two buddies decide that they kind of like Earth as it is and feel that the impending apocalypse might put a damper on things.  When they get recalled by their respective entities both beings decide that maybe they won't go as summoned.  Meanwhile a woman named Anathema Device has been trying to decipher her ancestor Agnes Nutter's obscure prophecies, culminating in her knowing about a whole lot of what's gonna happen without actually understanding it.  We are introduced to the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, a red woman named War who is followed by violence; A man all in black named Famine who encourages eating without substance and extreme dieting; A pale oozy man by the name of Pollution (who took over after Pestilence got a bit less scary with the advent of
Penicillin) and of course Death, who is pretty awesome and never shows his face.  The four ride pretty kickass motorcycles and are instrumental in bringing about the proper ending of the world.  Arguably the most important character in this whole book is the Antichrist...who through a mixup is being raised as an ordinary boy by the name of Adam (meanwhile Warlock, the boy everybody thinks is the Antichrist is seriously disappointing the evil minions) who runs a small gang of neighborhood kids call the Them.  Adam has an impossible imagination and runs with his gang all over town dreaming up amazing games.  As everything starts coming to a head, Adam meets Anathema, who has taken residence up in Tadfield and gives Adam some literature that lead his imagination to take an even bigger leap.  Adam starts playing games with the Them that involves some of the stuff he has read, what he doesn't realize is that while he "plays" in the real world things are happening.  For example, he and his friends imagine the raising of Atlantis...and out in the ocean an unknown island nation appears.  He also decides that the world has too many weapons and explains to his friends how he wishes all the weapons would disappear...and so it happens.  As time goes on Adam starts to realize his power and scares his friends as he lays out a vision that would essentially empty the world of people, dividing what is left between himself and his three friends.  It becomes apparent to the other players that the epicenter of the power that will end the world is in Tadfield and Anathema, The Four Horseman, and Crowley and Azriaphale all converge on the small, idyllic town.   Adam has a a crisis inside himself when he realizes that he can shape the world as he wants.  He feels the urge to follow the shape of the prophecy, but finally with the help of his friends, he decides not to end the world and there by avoiding the end.  Everybody drifts back to their lives, with just the vaguest of notions something big went down...or almost when down...or something like that.
So if that did not make any sense...I know.  This is a hard book to summarize as it is less of a plot and more a bit of this and that strung together to make a story.  If you have ever read either of these authors you will probably know exactly what I mean :-)  None of this is a bad thing, it just makes it harder to explain.  Let's discuss what I liked about this book.  To start with the premise is just fun, I
mean what other setting could possibly give us the sheer variety and craziness and irreverence as the impending apocalypse.  The biggest strength of this book is the characters, as you can probably gather from the above synopsis.  Adam is my favorite, mostly because of his imagination and the way he sees the world.  I also love the Horsemen and how the authors applied their ancient plagues to the current and modern world.  One of the things I noticed (and enjoyed) was the direct correlation between Adam and his three buddies (a girl and two boys) and the Four Horsemen (and woman).  In fact at one point the four kids and the four Horsemen go head to head in an epic awesome battle.   I liked how the small town of Tadfield was the proxy for the rest of the world.  Instead of the final battle being fought in an epic town, with an epic baddie vs awesome goodie, it came down to a small town, a child, and ordinary people (and a couple of demons and angels for good measure).  The writing is familiar in a good way as I have read both of these authors and enjoyed them thoroughly.  There were a few things that didn't really get me excited as a reader.  The over all book was a bit meandering for me, there were several points where a character was introduced  and then never heard from again, or an event that was described in great detail that while entertaining, didn't really have anything to do with the book.  There was the addition of foot notes, some of which were amusing, but a lot of which were just kind of there.  Over all it was an entertaining book that was worth the read, especially if you like tongue in cheek humor, angels and demons, good times, or small idyllic towns that house the Antichrist.   I give this book 7 out of 10  demonic Bently's.
What is your favorite version of the Apocalypse?  What is the real difference between angels and demons?  Have I ever told you my sister banned me from having kids 'cause she is pretty sure I would give birth to the Antichrist?

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