Tom Doherty Associates/Tor/RXR, 1995
ISBN 978 0765357151
I think I’ve already written about books with characters that make you wish they were real so that you could punch them in the face. The nice thing about that feeling is that it comes from all walks of literature – my own personal list includes Cathy from Wuthering Heights, Harold Lauder from The Stand, and both Bella and Edward from the Twilight books (but I have a feeling that last one is pretty common). Mostly, it’s because that character is either an ass of a human being (or not-so-human being in Mr. Cullen’s case), or is going about getting what they want in a really stupid way. In Harold and Cathy’s cases, I can deal with it, because the overall story is pretty good. But there are some idiot characters of literature that just will not be dealt with.
Like Robert Neville.
Alright, so he’s not as much of a douche as you might expect, having witnessed his wife and daughter succumb to the dread disease which carries off most of the rest of the planet. And to be fair on him, the guy has been living on his own for quite some time when the novel begins, so he’s developed certain routines and ways of thinking. I think that the scariest part of the characterisation of Robert Neville is how far away his intellectual faculties have slunk. Because obviously, the guy ain’t dumb. But my query is how come it takes him so long to start figuring out a cure for the virus? I mean, surely a major catalyst would be the nearest and dearest getting sick, right? But Neville is painted quite a few times within the narrative as being a passive creature, almost resigned to bobbing along in the flow of events. Which is totally fine, you need people like that… but just don’t make them the last people on earth. Or, maybe do, but don’t have them whining and moaning every five seconds about how annoying it is to lathe stakes, how you really should find a better method of disposal… and then not do anything about it. Hrumph! Read the rest of this entry