My review in a nutshell: a slow classic that didn’t always work for me.
Want that with more feeling?
Here we go…
- It’s a great take on the vampire story, I particularly liked the cause of vampirism and the ponderous steps Robert Neville makes to working that out.
- It’s clever.
- It’s descriptive. (Too much so in some places.)
- I liked the contrast between hunter and hunted – a much more acute problem than many vampire books because Neville is alone.
- Ben Cortman is a nice touch.
- The scene where Neville realises his watch has stopped really got me going.
- The dog! Did you have to do that? That was brutal.
But apart from those moments, much of the first part of the book just seemed to pootle along.
Then Ruth arrives.
I don’t want to give anything away so won’t say much about her. But from this point on, the book picks up considerably. And that was what was lacking for me for much of the story: a second character.
Neville’s wife and daughter and a huge part of his life but only in memory. Ben Cortman doesn’t really count as a companion. I was missing the dynamics of more than one person on the page. Ruth gives the book, and Neville, what they needed.
Her presence also sets up nicely for the end – the new reason for Neville being hunted and what happens to him. It was a great twist that I didn’t see coming and leads up nicely to the last sentence of the story.
All in all, I Am Legend is a good, measured read but I feel it could have done with Ruth appearing earlier to balance out Neville’s solitary existence. I realise that evoking a feeling of loneliness was probably one of the aims of the book, but the lack of a companion, and some of the overly precise descriptions of what he was doing, took the warmth out of the novel
I’d still recommend it. After all, it’s a classic.