The end of the world is nigh. The antichrist is born, and promptly mislaid. An angel and a demon, who have gone native, decide they really don’t want the world to be destroyed as they quite like it.
This is a very funny read. It takes a poke at religion, concepts of heaven and hell, apocalypse, as well as telemarketers, bikers, motorways, music, and various other aspects of life. It can be dark, but not excessively so in spite of its topic. It is often strange, peopled by characters that are more in keeping with Pratchett’s Discworld than Gaiman’s usual writings, up to and including their bizarre names (Anathema Device being a good example of this).
A main theme of this book is the concept of fate, and whether your destiny is determined or whether you can make your own. Crowley and Aziraphaele, Anathema Device, and the four horsemen (or bikers) all act according to what they perceive as their fate. In Anathema’s case, she lives her life in accordance to the prophecies of her ancestor, the witch Agnes Nutter (another Pratchett name.) She believes she has no choice, and it takes the intervention of Newton Pulsifer to persuade her to ignore prophecy and take a chance. Crowley, Aziraphaele, and the other supernatural entities, all believe they are obliged to follow the ‘ineffable’ plan. When they start their plot to avert Armageddon, it is without any real hope that they’re going to succeed. They are too indoctrinated with the idea that the future is fixed. It is Adam (aka the Antichrist), ultimately, who champions the freedom to choose, as he insists that everyone should try minding their own business.
Assumptions about what constitutes good and evil form another strong theme. The conversations between Aziraphaele and Crowley bear this out. They often bicker about what each side is responsible for, and they manage to work together without any difficulty. The immortal beings that they each answer to seem alarmingly similar in the way they speak and operate. It is quite clear that Aziraphaele has a little sneakiness in him, while Crowley has a spark of decency inside. In my opinion this reminds the reader that things are very seldom black and white.
Do not take this book seriously. It has no real relationship to the real world, or to any of the religious concepts mentioned. Suspend your disbelief, be prepared to have fun, and you will. I will be happy to recommend it for anyone who needs a good laugh.