Good Omens: (Not A) Book Review

Adam is the Antichrist. He is an eleven-year-old boy. Adam wants to have fun with his friends. He loves riding his bike and playing with his friends, The Them. Adam and The Them love debating mysterious nonsense such as UFOs, Atlantis, and Tibetan Monks who allegedly dig through the Earth. 

He is a typical eleven-year-old boy. Granted, very few eleven-year-old boys have inherited the powers of Satan. No other young boy has the power to bring about Armageddon. No, in that he is unique. And he is the sort of little twerp you cannot help but find adorable. So are his friends, The Them.

The Them is the name for Adam and his gang of friends: Brian, Wensleydale, Pepper, and later in the novel, his pet dog, known as Dog. The human members of The Them might seem like minor characters. However, they are not. As we shall see, they are crucial.

Dog was delightfully cute. He helps show how human Adam is. He was unaware of what it was. But it showed that despite being the Antichrist, that deep down, Adam is an average human boy. And not evil incarnate. 

He is the Hellhound sent to aid Adam in bringing about Armageddon. Unfortunately, although Adam desires a dog, he wants one of those hopelessly cute, tiny dogs with one ear that flops down. Unfortunately, it is in the hound’s nature to take the form his creator wishes. And so, he becomes the pet Adam wants him to be. By the end, nothing hellish remains in him.

Making the human members of The Them generic and non-distinct would have been easy. However, each member of The Them has a sufficiently compelling, distinct personality to make them somewhat interesting. However, I found Pepper and Wensleydale the most interesting. Brian seemed to contribute the least.

The character of Anathema Device is crucial to the plot themes of the novel. However, I did not find her overly interesting. Perhaps it was her rabid and unreasonable belief in the prophecy of Agnes Nutter. The prophecy the book made abundantly clear was not as reliable as she believed. That made her seem less reasonable and sympathetic than she otherwise might have. Or, perhaps, she was not a very interesting character.

I had similar issues with Newton Pulsifer. I enjoyed the gimmick of his curse of almost instantly firing electronics upon touching them. They did not explain this. But perhaps it is not important. It proves to be a plot device later on. However, I am not sure it is a necessary plot device. 

His primary purpose in the novel seemed to be to counter Agne’s unreasonable faith in the prophecies of Agnes Nutter. That is a valid contribution. His contribution near the end seems unnecessary. That’s why I call it a gimmick.

Gaiman and Pratchett might have cut Newton from the novel. Crowley might have played the role of prophecy skeptic. He held the book for some time. However, that could have slowed the plot. Perhaps it was best Newton played that role.

My issues with Newton and Agnes do not much detract from my enjoyment of their scenes. Their scenes, though not always as tightly written, were still entertaining.

Madame Tracy is a clairvoyant who appears later in the novel. Tracy exists to play host to Aziraphale after he accidentally disincorporates himself. And to help make a point about human kindness regarding Shadwell. Otherwise, her role is not very significant.

She is not a standout character. I have no problem with this. Her character is not well-developed. However, that is not an issue. The story does not require it.

Shadwell is a more well-developed character than Madame Tracy. Shadwell plays a relatively minor role in the novel other than to disincorporate Aziraphale. Although he gets more development than Madame Tracy, it is not by a great deal. I found him more interesting than her. Although, like Newton, the novel might work without him. He serves to motivate Newton in his actions. 

Perhaps they could have combined Newton and Shadwell into one character. That would have denied Madame Tracy a love interest and her happy ending. Was it strictly necessary? I suspect it might not have been.

Perhaps I am over-analyzing. Perhaps Newton and Shadwell should be distinct characters. It is not as though I disliked them. I am just unsure if they were both necessary.

Let’s not forget the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. They get a fair amount of coverage in this book. More than I think is justified. Fans of the Prime series may know that their presence there has decreased significantly.

That’s the optimal approach. The book gave too much attention to the Horsemen. Their scenes were entertaining. However, they did not significantly contribute to the plot, and their scenes were sometimes distracting. These scenes hinder the flow of the novel.

There are many other characters. Regrettably, I cannot cover them because of time constraints. 

Let me add one more thing: Gaiman likely enjoyed creating these characters. The book has many quirky characters here. Even those that do not seem strictly necessary are at least interesting. Pratchett is surely also to thank for that.

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