Monday, May 16, 2011

Book Review: I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago listing some of my favorite vampire books.  I cannot imagine what I was thinking leaving off a very excellent book - fit for the top of the list - Richard Matheson's I Am Legend.

Book Description
Robert Neville may well be the last living man on Earth . . . but he is not alone.

An incurable plague has mutated every other man, woman, and child into bloodthirsty, nocturnal creatures who are determined to destroy him.

By day, he is a hunter, stalking the infected monstrosities through the abandoned ruins of civilization. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for dawn....

First of all, the movie with Will Smith is a cool movie.  I dug it.  But... it is so loosely based on Matheson's work you can barely call it an adaptation.

I Am Legend is a fantastic read.  The vampire virus (to which Robert Neville is immune) is plausible, and Neville's plight is heart-wrenching.  The ending of I Am Legend has to be one of my all time favorite endings.

There are a couple of movie adaptations that pre-date the Will Smith version.  One of them is a great adaptation starring Vincent Price called The Last Man on Earth.  This adaptation follows closely to I Am Legend.  If you haven't seen The Last Man on Earth, I highly recommend you read I Am Legend first.  While the movie includes Matheson's ending, it fails to capture the same depth and meaning that Matheson conveyed.

If you are a zombie fan - especially a George Romero fan - or a fan of the vampire, I Am Legend is a definite must read, but I also highly recommend it in general.


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  1. Oh wow. You learn something new everyday. So the movie called I am legend is not really the book I am legend. But there is a movie called Last Man on Earth that is based on the book I am Legend. Interesting. lol. Thanks for the introduction.

  2. There is also an adaptation called Omega Man. I Am Legend (the movie) is based on the book, but if one were to read it, the Will Smith story is not what they would get. It's definitely a loose interpretation. I did like that movie, though. As always... "read the book first". :)

  3. I liked Omega Man.

    I would love to re-read I Am Legend sometime soon. Terrific book. Nice review, Jen!

  4. I Am Legend is one of my all-time favorites. I think I've read it at least a dozen times and I still don't get tired of it. Richard Matheson is an excellent author. I always highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a good horror read- and to anyone who has seen the movie, I tell them, "You must read the book." haha. :)
    Great review!


  5. Indeed a classic, but these are also cool vampire novels:

    FEVRE DREAM by George R.R. Martin
    PROGENY OF THE ADDER by Leslie Whitten
    SUNGLASSES AFTER DARK by Nancy Collins
    THE VAMPIRE TAPESTRY by Suzy McKee Charnas
    LIFEBLOOD by Lee Duigon
    and although I haven't read it yet, THE DELICATE DEPENDENCY by Michael Talbot has a huge cult following.

  6. Pixie - it's definitely a "read first"! :)

    Will - awesome list. Thank you! Fevre Dream is the only one I'm familiar with. Awesome...


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