Thursday, July 17, 2008

Armageddon Has Arrived.....and It Is Hilarious!

As I stated in my Sunday Salon post, I knew I needed to read Terry Pratchett!! I just knew it. I've heard endless reviews on his writing, but I've just never taken the time. ease my way into the world of Pratchett, I decided to start of with his collaboration with Neil Gaiman: Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnus Nutter, Witch (368 pgs, Ace Trade). It's also a selection I'm using for the What's in a Name Challenge and the TBR Challenge.

God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players [i.e. everybody], to being involved in an obscure and complex variant of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won't tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.

The end of the world is coming.....what are you going to do? For angel Aziraphale and demon Crowley, that is the question. After spending centuries on Earth, they've become friends....sort of. And they actually LIKE it here. They don't want a war between the "sides". So when the Antichrist is born, the two of them take it upon themselves to "watch" him to see if they can stop him from becoming evil. If they work together, maybe they can keep him from choosing between Good and Evil, and postpone Armageddon. Sounds like a good plan, doesn't it??

But due to a mix up at birth, the son of the American Diplomat is not really the Antichrist. He's just a normal 11-year-old boy. The real Antichrist is named Adam, and he lives in Lower Tadfield, England. Raised by normal English parents, he has friends and a dog (the Hell-Hound has become a normal, little dog that likes to terrorize cats). He doesn't even realize the power he possesses. Can this seemingly normal little boy actually become the purveyor of the end of the world??

All of this has been prophecized by Agnes Nutter, a witch in the seventeenth century. She was the only true prophet that ever lived. She even wrote a book, called The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch. Unfortunately, the book didn't sell very well. In fact, it didn't sell at all. Not that it mattered to Agnes; she just wanted the author copy anyway. And that copy is now in the hands of one of her descendants, Anathema Device, a witch of her accord, who is also trying to stop the end of the world.

There are also the four horseman of the Apocalypse, who have assembled to usher in the end of the world. However, they aren't horseman, but bikers. REAL Hell's Angels to be exact. War, Famine, Death and Pollution (Pestilence had to retire after the discovery of Penicillin). Now the race is on to find the real Antichrist, and depending on your side, either save or end the world!

A satirical look at Armageddon, this book is also kind of parody of the movie, The Omen. When Warlock (the boy everyone THINKS is the Antichrist) is young, his Nanny buys him a tricycle. But she can never get him to ride it in the house! The irony and wit in this book astounds me! A. Crowley (ie Crawley) was the serpent in the Garden of Eden; The tempter. Aleister Crowley, in real life, was the famous Satanist or occultist. Which makes this line even funnier:
"Crowley always found [Satanists] embarrassing. You couldn't actually be rude
to them, but you couldn't help feeling about them the same way that, say, a
Vietnam veteran would feel about someone who wears combat gear to Neighborhood
Watch meetings."

What Pratchett and Gaiman have done with this book is take a horrible, scary, evil happening and make it humorous. But in the midst of all the fun, they make some really valid points:

"There had been times, over the past millennium, when Crowley had felt like
sending a message back Below saying, Look, we may as well give up right now, we
may as well shut down Dis and Pandemonium and everywhere and move up here,
there's nothing we can do to them [humans] that they don't do themselves and
they do things we've never even thought of, often involving electrodes."

But in the end, they leave it up the wisdom of an 11-year-old kid, who just happens to be the Antichrist. And I guess this says something for the whole nature vs. nurture debate.

"I don't see what's so triffic about creating people as people and then gettin'
upset 'cos they act like people," said Adam severely. "Anyway, if you stopped
tellin' people it's all sorted out after they're dead, they might try sorting it
all out while they're alive."

I realize I'm kind of all over the place with this review. That's because the book is kind of all over the place. It's not the easiest book to review, that's for sure. But I'll tell you this: This is one fantastic book!! If I didn't already have a total crush on Neil Gaiman, I'd fall in love all over after reading this one. Of course, now I'm totally enamoured with Pratchett too. The end of the world doesn't have to be all doom and gloom. It can be positively hilarious!! Gaiman and Pratchett just proved it!! 4.5/5


Melody said...

I've been planning to pick this up, but just haven't got around to doing it. You've done well with the review; and am glad you enjoyed it, Stephanie! :)

Lisa said...

I'm definitely picking this one up. I've never read anything by Pratchett, either. Thanks for the review.

Andi said...

OK OK, I'll try it. It's been calling to me from my shelves for some time, and your review just put me over the top!

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

Hmmm--two authors that I've discovered this year and would love to read more of! Two birds, one stone. :) Sounds like a great read--and what fun covers! Thanks for bringing this to my attention, Stephanie.

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Dewey said...

I have this on TBR Mountain, and my husband keeps telling me he sure I've read it already. Now that I've read your review, I think he's right, but I was thinking this plot belonged to some Pratchett-only book. Either way, it's worth a reread!

Anonymous said...

I really should get around to reading this. Will probably have to wait for next year now, but I am really looking forward to it. Glad you enjoyed it so much, thanks for the reminder to dig out my copy.

Ana S. said...

You're making me want to read this one all over again, Stephanie! I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it so much :)

Carl V. Anderson said...

It isn't an easy book to review but you did a great job. It is an absolutely laugh-out-loud funny, wonderful book. I enjoyed every bit of it and read several parts of it aloud to my wife because I found it so fun. It is the kind of humor that I really enjoyed. I loved all the footnotes in it as well. Definitely a book that is as fun to re-read as it is the first time.