It’s the age old question asked by any film or print fan around the planet. I know how many times I’ve been asked, ‘why would you read that, they made a movie?’ Obviously it’s because the book is always better.
But is it really?
‘Armageddon only happens once, you know. They don’t let you go around again until you get it right.’
People have been predicting the end of the world almost from its very beginning, so it’s only natural to be skeptical when a new date is set for Judgement Day. But what if, for once, the predictions are right, and the apocalypse really is due to arrive next Saturday, just after tea?
You could spend the time left drowning your sorrows, giving away all your possessions in preparation for the rapture, or laughing it off as (hopefully) just another hoax. Or you could just try to do something about it.
It’s a predicament that Aziraphale, a somewhat fussy angel, and Crowley, a fast-living demon now finds themselves in. They’ve been living amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and, truth be told, have grown rather fond of the lifestyle and, in all honesty, are not actually looking forward to the coming Apocalypse.
And then there’s the small matter that someone appears to have misplaced the Antichrist…
Good Omens stole my heart, truly. It’s the kind of amusing, smart and lovingly human world I love to get lost in. I’d gifted the book to a friend, not having read it, but mentally put it on my to-read list after he raved about the thing.
I found myself struggling to find something both my eleven year old son and I would enjoy watching together. I stumbled on Good Omens, the series on Amazon. I loved it, my son loved it. After all of that loving I was afraid to read the book. I didn’t want to. Yet, it magically appeared on my doorstep one day. So, of course, I read the book.
If there were ever a love note to humanity, this story is it. Which is odd to say when the main characters are an Angel (Aziraphale) and a Demon (Crowley, nee Crawley, as he was the serpent in the Garden of Eden.) Over millennia living on Earth, these two form an attachment to each other, but also more of a fondness with humanity than they have for the legions in heaven or hell.
These two are the heart of the tale.
What’s an apocalyptic tale without an Antichrist? Adam, son of Satan is delivered to the wrong parents. He lives an idyllic life in a small British hamlet with his three best friends, known as “Them”.
As it ended up, I am so glad I gave in and read the book. The constant, insanely detailed and hilarious footnotes alone made it a delight. Also, it gave more depth to the relationship of Aziraphale and Crowley. While the series focuses more on a gentle, best friends in love, the book clearly spells out that while Angels are not sexual beings, these two loved each other. The series relied on symbolism to get this point across, and I feel like it fell just short of the mark.
However, David Tennant and Michael Sheen played the parts so damned well, I actually cried along with Crowley when he lost Aziraphale. In addition, the ending for these two in the series kicks the ass off the ending in the book. It gives the angels a moment of being the smartypants badasses they are. The book, it just sort of … stops.
And, I’ll be honest here, the ‘Them’ in the book did not hold my interest much. I found myself skimming quite a bit. In the series, the four friends are adorable, smart mouthed, irritating and engaging kids.
In the book? *Yawns*.
The series, hands down.
While the book is delightful and (yes, my friend was correct) absolutely worth reading (I’ll likely even read it again), it didn’t pull me in and enchant me as the series did. I treat this series as I do my favorite books: I have favorite moments I go back to see again. I enjoyed the book. I love the series.
I do feel the series had a HUGE advantage over the book. Neil Gaiman, one of the authors, was the script writer and showrunner. He took this opportunity to add pieces he’d felt were missing (or bits that had been roughed out for a never written sequel.) Most notable among these are Jon Hamm as Gabriel (who was fucking brilliant).