So what are we going to talk about today?
This hot mess of satirical genius, written by two men I highly admire. Neil Gaiman, author of such renowned books as Coraline, Anansi Boys, and Stardust, who captured millions of imaginations with his comic book series, The Sandman. A personal favorite of mine from western graphic novel literature. Terry Pratchett is even more famous, I believe, for his amazing Discworld Series, rightfully so.
These two authors have come together in an amazing tribute to not only christian religion, but also humanity in general. Taking the bible and the end of times and turning it into a spectacle I would gladly read again and again, is no mean feat, ladies and gents. And the characters, they thrill me so!
The two main characters (arguably) are Aziraphale and Crowley.
As described by the book itself, Crowley is “An Angel who did not so much Fall as Saunter Vaguely Downwards.” This is to say, he is not your average demon. He is the Serpent in the Garden, the Tempter. And he’s not bad looking in a suit and sunglasses, either. He is on a pet name basis with his counterpart, Aziraphale. Specifically, “Angel”. It’s ironic, and the fangirls (read: me.) have run with it.
Aziraphale, however, gets this lovely description: “Many people, meeting Aziraphale for the first time, formed three impressions: that he was English, that he was intelligent, and that he was gayer than a treeful of monkeys on nitrous oxide.” Oddly enough, though, Crowley is the one that strikes me as gay. I don’t know why that is.
Anyway, these two are the driving force behind the story. Literally. Crowley drives a Bentley the entire time in the book, and by the end it is literally held together only by his will. It’s amazing. From losing the baby Antichrist, to saving the world, these two are your ticket through the enchanting world these two men have created for us.
We get to watch these two characters grow and learn and generally fall out of their tired, uninspired existences, into something akin to human-hood, and it is beauteous. Not only do they become greater friends, but they learn that even if something is ineffable, that doesn’t mean it’s written in stone.
The entire plot revolves around Adam, the Antichrist. To quote our esteemed writers, “Adversary, Destroyer of Kings, Angel of the Bottomless Pit, Great Beast that is called Dragon, Prince of This World, Father of Lies, Spawn of Satan, and Lord of Darkness.” But really he looks like an Adam.
It’s time for Adam to bring about the Apocalypse. Daddy Evilest says so. However, not only are Crowley and Aziraphale hot on his heels to stop him, but so are several other motley crews. The hilarity never stops.
But all in all, the story isn’t even about the apocalypse or about god versus Satan, or about ineffability versus free will. It all comes down to this one quote:
“It may help to understand human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people.”
Because that’s what Gaiman and Pratchett have given us in this book. A book about humanity, and not just in humans, but in angels and demons and cars and witches. Humanity, the gift of being able to say, “I don’t like this.” and choosing to do something about it.
All in all, I’ve read this book three times. And I plan to sit down and read it again, very soon. Please, please, do the same.