Good Omens

by Ashley Yarbrough

Crowley (aka Crawly, a dig at losing his legs in the Garden of Eden) and Aziraphale were both created as angels during the beginning of time. However, Crowley “did not so much as fall as saunter vaguely downwards,” leading him to become a fallen angel but hinting to the reader his lack of any actual ill will. Hell’s leadership (Satan, presumably) assigns him to help make sure the Apocalypse happens hoping to overthrow Heaven.

Heaven also assigns Aziraphale to earth, but his job is to make sure Heaven wins the upcoming war. The problem is both these characters like earth and its people, so they spend their time trying to obey their respective authorities and make sure the Apocalypse doesn’t happen. This is how their friendship begins – opposing allies against the Apocalypse.

At first their friendship is fairly distant. They meet only occasionally (hundreds or thousands of years apart). However, when the initial phase of Armageddon begins through the Antichrist’s arrival, both are distraught and begin discussing how to avoid the seemingly inescapable end of the world. Their answer, thanks to Crowley’s focus during the duo’s drunken conversation over a metaphorical bird, is to raise the Antichrist as unseen pseudo-godparents and make sure he does not do what he is destined to do. However, thanks to some very inept, talkative, devil-worshipping nuns, they lose the Antichrist literally hours after its birth. Oops.

The rest of the novel switches perspectives among the Antichrist (a preteen boy), Aziraphale, and Crowley. The novel is witty and entertaining. It’s full of adorable scenes that show the sweet friendship between the two, such as their hilarious travels in Crawley’s precious car trying to hunt down the antichrist but accidentally stealing the prophecies of a witch instead.

Some reviewers of the novel (and the Amazon Prime show) imply that Aziraphale and Crowley’s relationship is romantic, but this seems a stretch. I think it’s a beautiful commentary on what a real friendship is, especially when we consider the authors of this novel. Pratchett and Gaiman were two very close friends who both took on the persona of these angels. They took turns writing, sending the novel back and forth, and just playing with the idea of what would happen if an angel and a demon became friends. The novel’s witty dialogue and plot are evidence of this. Despite the rather serious setting and subject, everything is pure humor, absurdity, and playfulness. Both characters are obedient to their respective authorities and never imply they would rather be different. Instead, their only concern seems to be that they want earth to remain in existence for selfish reason: Crawley likes the extravagance of it (as the reader sees in his love of his car and his general attire), and Aziraphale enjoys his bookshop and tea.

In fact, at the end of the novel, Aziraphale tells Crawley, he’s “just a little bit a good person,” and Crawley says Aziraphale is “just enough of a bastard to be worth knowing.” This shows that, although they are fond of each other, they aren’t in a romantic relationship. The story ends with the assumption they will return to their only occasional meet-ups, which makes perfect sense when we think of the writers: friends who only seem to come together when their lines naturally cross, but who also respect and admire the other for being themselves. That friends do not have to share everything in common or even see each other that often is a great reminder of what friendship actually is: respect and love for who another person is—no requirements or appointments necessary. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ashley Yarbrough is a writer, mother, teacher, gardener, and many other things. She writes about it all here. Feel free to take a look!

9 thoughts on “Good Omens

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    1. There are definitely some lulls (when they switched to the antichrist’s POV), but it’s so witty and hilarious that I ended up not caring. I think it’s definitely worth the read.

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      1. I agree. The book gets slow in the middle, but the angel / demon angle kept me reading. The series suffers a little from the same thing. I honestly wanted them to forget following the kid and just focus on more Antics. Hahahaha.

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        1. Yes, same! It’s like the central plotline was so irrelevant to what I cared about. Honestly, my favorite scene in the whole book was when Crawley was threatening his plants, making a big scene about dumping the “offending” plant and returning with an empty pot, leaving it in the middle of the apartment for all the other plants to see. Then: “The plants were the most luxurious, verdant, and beautiful in London. Also the most terrified.” It’s the most hilarious thing ever. And it had NOTHING to do with the plot hahaha

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          1. To be honest, I have tried reading the book several times and never made it all the way to the end, because I was so Bored with the kid. If I ever do reread it, I’m just going to skip his bits.

            One of my favorite paragraphs involved Crawley being super proud of himself for creating the highway around London, because it bottlenecks for miles and pisses off an enormous amount of people all at once, rather than one or two at a time. I lol’d so hard at that. And at the crazy nun who switched babies. It was all very… Pratchett-y, even more than Gaiman-y.

            Did you see the miniseries on Amazon Prime? It’s splendid and I knew it would be the minute they announced the casting. David Tennnt as Crawley? A divine casting if ever there was one. 😉

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            1. Charity, yes I have! I loved that – and how he said he loved causing phone system errors and watching cities of people rage over being put on hold. Absolutely hilarious.

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  1. Good review!!

    I love this book. And this show. And Aziraphale and Crowley … and everything about them. *happy sigh*

    Personally, I think their friendship in the book had intentionally romantic undertones, which Pratchett and Gaiman chose not to explicate fully ’cause it was 30 years ago and wouldn’t have been so acceptable? Maybe? But when they put Gaiman in charge of adapting the novel into a show, in 2017, he was like “okay, yes, we’ll make it official, they are in love.”

    Although it’s still subtle enough that viewers can choose not to interpret it that way, despite Gaiman’s stated intentions. Which is valid. Authorial intent isn’t everything. Myself, I prefer to interpret them as star-crossed lovers in addition to best friends. But that’s just me. 😉

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  2. Thanks!
    I can totally see where people are getting that, so I dug a bit for the authors’ response and found this (and others like it):
    Neil Gaiman says, “I wouldn’t exclude the ideas that they are ace, aromantic, or trans. They are an angel and a demon, not male humans…Whatever Crowley and Aziraphale are, it’s a love story.”
    It’s like he’s saying they love each other, but it’s not sexual. Which, to me, translates to friendship, but maybe that’s narrow minded and romantic doesn’t have to be sexual? I dont know!. But I think Gaiman is intentionally vague, kind of letting the audience choose for themselves. In all the interviews I’ve seen, he just keeps repeating that they love each other. It’s definitely super sweet, and I think he likes the idea of people looking at their relationship through their own lenses.
    Anyway, thanks for your thoughts. I love hearing what others think about this book.

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    1. To me, what Gaiman is saying is it wouldn’t necessarily make sense to call Crowley and Aziraphale gay, because if that were true, they’d have to identify as a) human and b) male, and they’d have to have a sexual relationship. And we don’t know [he’s saying] if they are any of those things. Which is entirely fair. I DO think that romantic love doesn’t have to be strictly sexual, myself, so even if Crowley and Aziraphale never get together “in that way,” I still see it as a romance. Yes, they are friends for sure, but I believe it’s more than that. Maybe it’s an ace romance. I could get behind that interpretation.

      But, yes, I also appreciate him not being too specific about it and letting viewers interpret it through their own lens.

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