Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
$7.99 at Amazon.com ISBN: 0060853980
It's not every day you find a comedy about the end of the world. Pratchett writes light sci-fi novels and Gaiman is best known as the author of the Sandman graphic novels, though he now writes in prose as well. They teamed up some years ago to write this terrifically funny novel in which Armageddon is coming, but a misguided nun unwittingly misplaces the infant Antichrist, throwing the entire End Times into chaos.
The stars of the show are two angels: Aziraphale works for God, and is disguised on earth as a used book dealer. The other, Crowley, works for Satan and feels unappreciated as he alone in Hell knows how to seduce people to evil in modern times. The two remain friends and colleagues, in spite of their bosses being eternal enemies, and scramble to get the Last Days back on track and running smoothly. Crowley drives a sports car and has a penchant for his Best of Queen album, while Aziraphale is a bit more studious and mild mannered. The sarcasm and double entendres the two exchange keep the story funny, although both seem sort of inept as heavenly guardians.
The back up characters are funny as well. A book of ancient prophecies, written by a witch named Agnes Nutter, describe every aspect of Armageddon in precise detail. Writing in the 17th century, Agnes struggles to describe skyscrapers, automobile accidents, and other 20th century foibles unknown in her own time. The famed Four Horsemen are all here, and the Antichrist himself as a twelve-year-old boy whose whereabouts remain unknown until the end.
This is a very funny book, parts are sure to have you laughing out loud. Using religion as a theme got me thinking about how sometimes we all take existence just a bit too seriously. The humor is quite irreverent but never really offensive, making this a good gift for even the pious Christian in your life. Get a few laughs off of the end of life on earth.