In the first part of Saturday, Newt ends up at Anathema’s house as portents of the apocalypse begin to spring up all over the world. Meanwhile, Adam Young suddenly changes his mind about the world. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Good Omens.
Saturday (Part I)
[Note: For the purpose of following along, this review covers the beginning of the “Saturday” chapter to page 230 in the paperback edition. The last sentence I read says, “It began to hail.” – Mark]
Oh, this is just getting progressively more complicated, isn’t it?
I can’t figure out why, but it appears that Pestilence now does Pollution almost exclusively, but still retains the identity of Pestilence. Why is that? What changed that changed what he does? Anyway, it’s a great start to “Saturday” because it really drives home the idea that the world is ending in just a matter of hours. So much weird, unexplainable, and bizarre shit happens in such a small span of time that it’s undeniable that this is where the book is going to shift into high gear. The third Horseperson of the Apocalypse has been notified of the upcoming demise of the world (and with that AWESOME crown), and after that, the delivery guy HAS TO DIE TO DELIVER THE FINAL PARCEL. HOLY SHIT, THAT’S SO SAD.
The bulk of this part of the day follows Newt as he goes to investigate Tadfield and what’s happening in Tadfield as Newt gets closer. Shadwell stays behind, and I’m sure that’s intentional. Crowley and Aziraphale probably told him to do this. Oh god, Aziraphale perfectly translated the prophecies, didn’t he? Does that mean he was always supposed to influence events so that Newt went to Tadfield? My brain hurts from the implications of this.
But I’ll get to the discussion of Agnes Nutter’s prophecies later. There are a lot of asides in this first part of “Saturday.” We get the entire footnote about Britain’s currency system and how horrifically complex it is. There’s the section discussing Newt’s car, the Wasabi, and it isn’t until we actually read on of Agnes’s prophecies that we learn why it’s important that he’s driving that car. So my attention waned for a few pages. I understood that this was further building Newt’s character, but it took later sections to give this one the context I needed. But the most important detail we learn early on is how Agnes Nutter died. I already adore her deeply. Seriously, she was mad at the mob that came to burn her alive because they arrived ten minutes after her prophecy said they would. She walks calmly to her death, knowing it needs to happen. Then she gives one damning message before she dies:
“…marke well the fate of alle who meddle with suche as theye do notte understande.”
And, apparently, she smiled and looked up at the sky over the village and added, “That goes for you as welle, yowe daft old foole.”
I LOVE HER SO MUCH.
And then this book… well, fuck. I just had to put Good Omens down and laugh and laugh and laugh because I’ve never read anything like this.
Firstly, however, Newt had to do something about the flying saucer.
Wait, you’re kidding, right?
As he stared over the top of his map, a door in the saucer slid aside with a satisfying whoosh, revealing a gleaming walkway which extended automatically down to the road. Brilliant blue light shone out, outlining three alien shapes. They walked down the ramp. At least, two of them walked. The one that looked like a pepper pot just skidded down it, and fell over at the bottom.
THAT’S A DALEK, ISN’T IT? THERE IS A DALEK ON PLANET EARTH FOR THE APOCALYPSE. THIS IS THE BEST BOOK, OH MY GOD. But seriously, there’s a UFO on the planet. And the aliens are just delivering a message of peace as friends of Planet Earth. Obviously, the oncoming Apocalypse is what triggered the message, but I love how normal this moment is made to seem, at least from the point of view of the aliens. And just two pages later, it’s over! That’s it! Well, there is this:
I must be overdoing something, he thought guiltily. But what?
And I can’t even tell Shadwell, because he’d probably bawl me out for not counting their nipples.
I love this book. I really do. I love it for “grass materialism” and for conversations about half-goat, half-man (“Which half?”) and for saving whales to get a badge. There are simply too many funny lines to even keep track of!
For the remainder of this segment of Saturday, Gaiman and Pratchett detail two storylines: Newt’s car crash, which gets him into Agnes Nutter’s house, and Adam’s unknowing transformation into the Antichrist. I didn’t expect this, but there’s a great deal of time spent on the logistics of how Agnes’s prophecies actually worked. I would have honestly just accepted them as they were! I didn’t think we’d actually get to read any of them as they were originally written. But this isn’t a case of the authors overexplaining a concept. Instead, I was impressed by the way it was used to build Agnes’s character. It’s not like she got these visions and wrote them down perfectly. Gaiman and Pratchett acknowledge the fact that she isn’t going to be able to understand most of what she sees. How would she know what a car is? She wouldn’t even use the right word for it. This, combined with the fact that she received her visions out of order, made her prophecies horrifically difficult to translate. And she didn’t care. She knew she was playing part in something she didn’t understand, and she just wrote down the prophecies TO HELP HER DESCENDANTS. Why is that so touching to me? “She was sort of trying to look after us after she’d gone,” Anathema explains to Newt. And that makes her prophecies both adorable and HILARIOUS. She’s predicting the end of the world perfectly, but doing so through the lens of making sure her great great great great grandson knows about something that might ruin his day.
(A side note unrelated to this, but I don’t know how to fit it into anything: the whole “Oriental” thing and the voice inside the car about the seat belt make me feel weird. Like, I don’t know if the joke is making fun of people who are racist against Asian folks or if it’s engaging in the very act itself. Does anyone know? I can’t quite figure them out.)
Back to Agnes Nutter. It was much easier for me to translate what she was saying because, like Anathema says, I knew what event she was referring to, but only because it had already happened. What I don’t quite get is Anathema’s explanation of why everything is happening in Little Tadfield. I think I get it: she says someone or something loves Tadfield so much that they’ve created a bubble, a shield of sorts, to prevent the end of the world from happening. The only possible explanation I can see?
It’s Them. Well, it was Them. That’s what confuses me. Or perhaps a better word is worries. I adore the idea that the local kids love this place so much that they’ve influenced Adam to create this sort of protection around him. As Crowley said, the kid is going to have powers that he isn’t even aware of. He’ll have forces within him he doesn’t understand or see. That leads me to believe that what he does at the end of this section is him coming to find the Antichrist within him. Of course, this isn’t a conscious effort. Adam just starts feeling angry, upset and disappointed, and it terrifies the other kids. HE AFFECTS THE WEATHER. Oh my god, there’s your sign, Newt. So here’s my question: did Adam just inadvertently lift the protection on Little Tadfield? Is that shield of love now gone?
Seriously, I love this book so much right now.
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