Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What I'm Reading - Good Omens

I'm reading Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett. I've been a fan of Gaiman since the early-ish days of The Sandman, and Terry Pratchett - well, I've not read any of his books, but I plan to remedy that in the near future.

I'm enjoying this book. A lot. It's funny. Sometimes biting and satirical, sometimes zany, but definitely full of humor. The four horsemen are... unexpectedly modern. I found myself alternating between chuckling and horrified realization when reading about Famine's antics, in particular.

How at home Famine must be in this day and age. Starvation is still a problem for the poor in the third world countries, but it's also the goal of so many well-off women and young girls. (And even a segment of the young male population, apparently.) People stuff themselves full of easy and cheap calories, loading themselves up with excess fat while becoming deficient in the basic nutrients required for a healthy life. Our obsessions with food, at both ends of the scale, make his job so much easier.

I don't want to give key story points away, so I'll stay out of detailing what he and the other horsemen are up to in the days leading up to Armageddon. Instead, I'll quote the description from the publisher:

There is a distinct hint of Armageddon in the air. According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (recorded, thankfully, in 1655, before she blew up her entire village and all its inhabitants, who had gathered to watch her burn), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, the Four Bikers of the Apocalypse are revving up their mighty hogs and hitting the road, and the world's last two remaining witch-finders are getting ready to fight the good fight, armed with awkwardly antiquated instructions and stick pins. Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. . . . Right. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan.

Except that a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon -- each of whom has lived among Earth's mortals for many millennia and has grown rather fond of the lifestyle -- are not particularly looking forward to the coming Rapture. If Crowley and Aziraphale are going to stop it from happening, they've got to find and kill the Antichrist (which is a shame, as he's a really nice kid). There's just one glitch: someone seems to have misplaced him. . . .

Gaiman & Pratchett did a lovely thumbing of the nose at our current culture. I think it's a great book to put on the shelf with Jonathan Swift and Douglas Adams, for my kids to pick up as they grow beyond the 2nd-3rd grade satire of Captain Underpants.

No comments: