Good Omens: (Not A) Book Review

Good Omens posits that one thing that defines humanity – as opposed to demon and angel kind – is their immense capacity for cruelty, kindness, and creativity.

The demons gave Crowley credit for the Spanish Inquisition. However, that was a product of creative human cruelty. Something Crowley believes is beyond the unimaginative cruelty of demons. Only a human could conceive of that kind of innovative cruelty. Crowley believes humans are capable of cruelty beyond the imagination of demons.

However, Madame Tracy always makes Sunday lunch for neighbor Shadwell, even though he is a disagreeable and ungrateful grump. Good Omens argues for the better side of humanity where kindness and benevolence shine through. She seeks companionship with him even though he might, superficially at least, appear to be an unlikeable man. 

Anathema Device attempts to prevent Armageddon for allegedly altruistic reasons. Some might see this as proof of the goodness of humanity. I do not consider altruism to be rational or noble. However, that is moot. There is nothing altruistic about saving the world. If you save the world, is it not in your self-interest?

However, the best example of this theme is Adam, the Antichrist. He has an enormous capacity for evil. However, he rejects it and rejects the innate evil within him. He elects to live as an innocent child – free of the evil of the Antichrist. If he can reject evil, then so can anyone. Whatever evil is within us is a choice. 

The book presents the idea that good and evil exist within us all, but this is false as they are choices that we make. Some of us choose both. 

Differences Between the Novel and the Series

There is a mini-series adaptation of the novel. Series one of the Good Omens Prime Video series is very faithful to the book. However, as you should expect, differences exist.

Aziraphale and Crowley are much more prominent in the Prime Video show. They are the main characters in the book. Long sections of the book go by where they do not appear, unlike the Prime Video show.

Gabriel and other characters from Heaven and Hell – such as Beelzebub – barely appear. They appear rarely in the book but have plenty of screen time in the show.

The Four Horsemen receive significantly less screen time in the mini-series. That is an appreciable change that helps give the Prime Video show better pacing.

Viewers of the Prime series will remember a bit at the end involving a trick involving the forces of Heaven and Hell. Unfortunately, that is not in the book. The book ends almost immediately after the aversion of Armageddon – unlike the Prime show.

Death appears in the book. He TALKS IN CAPITAL LETTERS, just as he does in the Discworld novels.


Good Omens is a fun and quirky story about friendship and free will. It has a lot to say about many things, but it is, above all, a fun story. If you enjoy the quirkiness of Neil Gaiman’s characters and his worlds, you will love this book. Whether you enjoy Pratchett and Gaiman or want a humorous take on friendship, free will versus destiny, or other compelling themes, this book is for you.

It’s a funny tale of two friends saving the world from Armageddon. That is all right – that is as good a reason to love Good Omens as any other. There is much more to Good Omens than that – but take away what you will.

It is not my place to tell you what you should value. I like what it says about free will and prophecy. It is instructive to apply this to religion. Here, you can choose from a variety of riches. Take your pick.

Hopefully, we can all agree that it is well-written, intelligent, fun, and packed with quirkiness. Pratchett and Gaiman set out to do so – and they succeeded. Congratulations to them both!

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