The style reminds me more of Pratchett than of Gaiman, but that might be because I’ve read far more of Mr. Pratchett’s work. But I have enjoyed what I’ve rad by Mr. Gaiman, so with Terry’s name on it as well, I’m honestly not sure why I’ve never picked this up before.
As our story begins, the hosts of heaven and hell are getting reading for the final brawl, the last battle, the war to settle things once and for all. But then the antichrist gets swapped with the wrong baby and one of the primary earthly agents on each side has grown rather attached to humanity.
In fact, Azraphale and Crowley can’t bear to be parted from their own particular earth pleasures (music, books, and sushi), so conspire to derail things as much as possible. Along the way, there are witches and witch hunters, an infernal hound named Dog, a freeway that’s actually a gigantic incantation, motorcycle gangs, the four horsepersons of the apocalypse, a chase through telephone lines, and far too many other things to list as the legions of angels and demons slowly converge on Lower Tadfield for the end of the war.
It’s a strange book and a fun ride and it shows off humanity an all its, well, humanity. There are no excuses and no absolutions, no modesties and no compliments, just humanity. Free will being the big message, and that left to our own devices, we’ll mostly turn out to be decent folks who don’t mind trying to make the world just a little bit better than we found it.
While ordinarily Pratchett is more to my tastes than the somewhat darker worlds Gaiman tends to produce, the two of them together have produced a pretty intelligent comedy filled with sarcasm, wit, and reality. It’s consistent, and consistently good, even when a touch of the surreal gets mixed in. The authors explore free will, good and evil, nature versus nurture, and, like I said above, an unbiased view of the human condition.
But writing anything more would be spoiling the story.
Overall rating: 4 stars. Recommended for Pratchett and Gaiman fans, of course, but I’d suggest if you enjoy Douglas Adams, this will fit right in. I wish I’d picked this book up years ago.by