Saturday, October 28, 2017

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A hilarious and insightful story about the end of the world, and the true nature of good and evil.

I love the idea that no one is fully good or fully evil, not even an angel or a demon when they have spent a significant amount of time with humans. Humans are capable of insane cruelty, but also of vast love. As Crowley puts it, "And just when you'd think they were more malignant than ever Hell could be, they could occasionally show more grace than Heaven ever dreamed of. Often the same individual was involved. It was this free-will thing, of course." As Crowley and Aziraphale spent more and more centuries among humans and with one another, they slowly started to become more alike. The battalions of Heaven and Hell didn't care if earth and humanity was destroyed in their eternal battle for dominance, but Crowley and Aziraphale had grown to love their lives on earth and the humans there.

There is something to be said about the formative power of friendship. As Crowley and Aziraphale influenced one another over the years, so too was Adam the erstwhile antichrist influenced by his terribly human parents and his crew of friends. The best thing that could have happened to Adam was being misplaced by all the supernatural beings that were trying to mold him and shape him and eventually use him for their own agendas. Adam grew up fully human, with capacity for both love and hate in him, and once he came into his power, a unique perspective on the eternal battle between good and evil. In the end, he chose to stop the battle between good and evil because he had chosen his human friends over his potential apocalyptic entourage. He wanted to live as normal a life as possible. Who knows where Adam might end up in the future, but the possibilities are endless.

Anathema's journey is a uniquely fascinating one as well. What would it be like to know the major plot points of your life - where you go, what you do, who you kiss, when you die? On the one hand, at least you don't have to wonder if you're doing the right thing, but on the other, you never feel like you are making your own choices. Anathema is shocked when the world doesn't actually come to an end, and she's left with the prospect of living her life with no expectation or future knowledge. When presented with one final opportunity to go back to her previous way of life, Anathema decides to embrace the mysterious unknown, which Agnes knew she would do, of course. I think that's why Agnes send a second book in the first place, to give Anathema a choice.

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Thursday, October 5, 2017

Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places

Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A fascinating book about not just the most famous ghost stories and haunted places in America, but an in-depth and unbiased analysis on the psychological, societal, and historical reasons why each story developed. From ghosts being invented for profit and marketing purposes, to the psychological need to create stories that explain the unexplainable, Colin Dickey dives deep not only into America's past, but into the minds of those who choose to believe. If nothing else, I've learned that every place has a story to tell, and those that have left are never truly gone if they are remember, regardless of who does the remembering.

This is one of those reviews where if I tried elaborating, this would turn from a short review into a pages-long thesis. Every chapter brought a new story and a new insight into history. I liked it so much, I feel like reading it again, and this time actually stopping to write down every little thing that struck me or I was amazed by. And I just might do that. And you should, too.

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