Saturday, June 20, 2009

I Take It to be a Good Omen...

Good Omens
Written by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

What do I take to be a good omen? This is the fiftieth post of the Thought's Dowinion relaunch! We made it everyone, and they never thought we would. Bastards, all of them. To be honest, there isn't any other book I'd rather be reviewing for this most auspicious of occasions than Good Omens. Finishing this is my own little victory over four years of efforts, false starts, and distractions. Mostly distractions. And false starts. Not so much with the efforts, to be honest. At least I'm not a liar.

As one would expect from Pratchett, this is a very, very funny book. The understanding I've gained is that Gaiman and Pratchett did the plotting over the phone on an almost daily basis, and, while Gaiman was primarily busy working on Sandman, Pratchett did most of the actual writing. I've never read any of his other novels, but they are now dutifily ready for the To Read list. It's funny, and I mean, it's really funny. I laughed frequently. It's a dry, English humour, no doubt, but it really is hysterical at times. The footnotes, my favourite literary device (I use them in papers all the time, when I know it wouldn't actually be appropriate to share what I want to share), had me in stitches, as they say. But humour alone is not enough.

What this does SO well, and moves it into the major leagues, is it tells a real and interesting story. Though it's almost impossible to imagine Good Omens without the jokes, as they are constant, it would be a great fantasy novel even without the wit. The story is that good, and that's what's missing from just about any lackluster comedy. There's no awkward difference when a section shifts from one writer to another; anyone familiar with his work can tell Gaiman was more involved with the plot, while Pratchett took care of editing everything down together. As far as fantasy/humour novels are concerned, this is in a league of its own. As far as fantasy novels go, it's still damn good.

Grade: A

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