Warning: This review contains spoilers!!!!
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson: I try not to spoil books or movies when I review them, but this book is an exception. I thought this book was excellent. A different take on the classic vampire story. I can see how future artists/writers were inspired by this tale. Written in 1954, the story is actually set in the ‘future’ 1976, and a plague has turned everyone into a blood hungry vampire. Does this story sound familiar 😉 ?
The protagonist of the book was Robert Neville. Left alone and isolated he believes he is the last man unaffected by the virus. The book takes an eerie look at his daily life. He has worked out a routine of fixing his house, hunting the vampires, and drinking alcohol by day and barricading himself in his house by night. On a nightly basis the vampires gather outside of his house and try to lure him out.
There is one especially creepy vampire that calls out for him, Ben Cortman. This figure is haunting. Were the vampires just gathered as predatory animals after the last human around with fresh blood, or were they thinking, feeling, beings out for vengeance? This is where I wish the character was developed more thoroughly. Ben seemed like such an interesting antagonist.
One of the main things I kept wondering was, why does he stay in his house? Why doesn’t he go far far away if he knew the group of vampires gathered at his house on a daily basis? He only drove as far as his gas tank would take him. Maybe I have been watching too much Walking Dead.
Matheson also took his time to try to explain to the readers how a vampire plague could possibly happen. Robert went to great lengths to investigate bacteria and viruses. Although he seemed to be a normal Joe, he reasonably found some answers. I believe this part was pretty unique to the story at the time it was written. Vampires usually start with a supernatural background. However, Matheson tried to make the conversion into a vampire a believable possibility.
Another aspect of the story I liked, was that there were people infected with the virus that were still alive and others that had come back from the dead. This was an interesting moral dilemma since Robert killed regardless if they were still dead or alive.
One of the best written parts of this book is the loss of his wife and child. You can literally feel his agony as he remembers the death of his wife. There are many moments in the book when you can easily get teary eyed. Another emotional period was when Robert found an seemingly unaffected dog. You can read the connection and slight obsession with finding another creature that is unaffected.
This brings me to the conclusion of the tale. The conclusion is probably the most important part of the book. However, it went by so quickly. The climax was too short in my opinion. Also, his decision to stay in house drove me crazy! He was warned to run away and he didn’t. Why wouldn’t he run away??!
“I was too used to the …the house. It was a habit, just…just like the habit of living. I got …used to it”
OMG that is everyone’s ultimate excuse!!! That line is great!Anyways, I highly recommend everyone read this book. It’s a classic horror book that inspired many. I also, wanted to comment and include some of the great art work the covers have. Creepy!!!
One last note, the movie interpretation with Will Smith was completely different from the book. Talk about creative freedom. Read the book, don’t watch the movie 😉