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Hello, my name is Valorie. I have a Master's Degree in History and a license to teach-- I have been both university professor and public school teacher. Currently, I am a middle school social studies teacher. I love horror movies and spooky things. Every day is Halloween. I am also a passionate book blogger.

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Book Review: 23:27 by H.L. Roberts

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Book Review: Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Title: Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch 
Author(s): Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett 
Genre: Fiction - Paranormal Humor 
Finished: July 18, 2012

People have been encouraging me to read Neil Gaiman for a long time, so when Paperbackswap sent me this particular novel, I figured that was a sign (no book reference intended) that I should begin with this one. Who wouldn't love an amusing, comedy-filled imagining of the end of the world? It suits the morbid in me. The plot begins with a baby switch at the beginning: two babies are being born, one being the child of an important ambassador, which is to be replaced by the son of the Devil. Unfortunately, a mishap places the Devil's only son, named Adam by his clueless human parents, with an innocent Lower Tadfield couple. They know nothing of what their baby is or what will happen. All information about the eventual "apocalypse" is found in a book of prophecy penned by a long dead witch known as Agnes Nutter, who wrote down her foretellings for her descendants to interpret. Enter in to the story a motley cast of characters. You have an angel and a demon who are residents on earth. Their duty is to handle various dealings for their respective sides in the eternal battle of good versus evil. They are friends. They are aware that the end of the world is coming. The both of them are also reluctant to see the world go because they rather like it. You also have the young Antichrist Adam who is, thanks to his raising, a normal kid with strange powers and a sweet Hellhound. Mixed in with this is a witch, a couple of witch finders, a medium, the horses (or in this case the motorcycles) of the Apocalypse, and a group of young human children getting into the messes that young children do unaware that their leader is the Antichrist. Beneath the comedy is a little theology to satisfy the intellectual in all of us. It makes us ask questions like what is good and evil? Does good and evil exist only to fulfill a role because we need them to? Both the resident angel and demon in the story aren't necessarily identifiable as what we think of as theologically good or bad... they just are. And sure, they enjoy a little morality and destruction, but not enough to destroy the world for it. Angel and demon both exist as pawns in a game that no longer has meaning, but continues because both sides want to win. It's like carrying a grudge because someone did something bad to you long ago, but you no longer remember what you did, just that it made you mad. Maybe also a little because that is what is expected. And consider young Adam, the son of the Devil, who lacks the capacity for true pure evil because he was raised as a normal kid. His "evil" isn't a part of his person, it isn't embedded in his gene code, and he is only a mischievous kid with powers he can't understand or make sense of. He doesn't want to be bad, he just wants to be a kid and create a world that would be perfect to him as a child. Which, yes, does ultimately lead to a near nuclear crisis. Of course you can read it just to enjoy being witness to a creative adventure that allows one little mix-up to snowball into a chaotic mess that almost sees the world to the brink of extinction. The book is funny, clever, well written, unique, and interesting. It's not some dramatic, edge of your seat apocalypse book full of military personnel speaking in code and superhuman main characters that perform heroic acts not possible for normal people. Just a bunch of people, both human and not, running in haphazard circles trying to stop the world from blowing up in a rain of nuclear missiles.