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By Richard Matheson - I Am Legend (1.5.2008) Paperback – January 5, 2008
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Top customer reviews
I Am Legend follows protagonist Robert Neville after a plague has swept through, claiming the entirety of mankind and leaving nothing but vampiric beings in its wake. It is the end of times. Yet somehow, Neville remains. Alone and outnumbered, he must fight for survival and try to establish a life of solitude.
I want to note that for a brief portion of this story I actually listened to the audio book narrated by Robertson Dean. I can safely recommend it, as I found the narrator’s tone to be reminiscent of the actual film, Omega Man. It was nostalgic. So If you are in search a shorter audio book, this might be an ideal option. You could certainly knock this one off of your TBR in a matter of hours.
Where to start? This is a brilliant read! Cleverly disguised as your run-of-the-mill science fiction, I Am Legend delivers a reading experience that goes well beyond the expected. This is not just a mere story of a virus and mankind’s end. This is a keen observation of humanity through the eyes of one desperate and desolate human being.
“He stood there for a moment looking around the silent room, shaking his head slowly. All these books, he thought, the residue of a planet’s intellect, the scrapings of futile minds, the leftovers, the potpourri of artifacts that had no power to save men from perishing.”
Our main character is everything you would come to expect him to be. He is angry. He is despairing. And he is forever seeking answers and solutions. It is through Neville that we exposed to the horrors of what it is to be the last surviving human. The psychological ramifications are endless, and I feel that the 3rd person narration seen through Neville’s eyes conveys this appropriately with well-timed emotional responses and outburst. The sense of desperation is forever present in his relentless studies and efforts to find a cure, a solution. The loneliness is experienced through his need to reside within his own memories of his wife and a life that was. The added element of his alcoholism and sporadic actions expose his weakness and ineffective coping, reminding us once again that this is more than a science fiction story.
The writing is very impressive when you take into account that I Am Legend was originally published in 1954 and set with a futuristic Los Angeles during 1976. While the pace is somewhat slow, it is consistent and aids well in setting the atmosphere. I feel that it was a brazen decision on the author’s part to create a single character and leave him to his own devices while providing the reader with limited insight through the chosen narration. It is easy to see why this book has influenced multiple films. By the time you have completed Neville’s journey, I Am Legend will evoke a different type of fear that is very human and very real.
“Full circle. A new terror born in death, a new superstition entering the unassailable fortress of forever. I am legend.”
This is an ideal read for fans of the films, post apocalyptic settings and titles that take an abstract approach to exploring humanity. I found this to be a very solid first encounter with Matheson’s work, and it will certainly not be the end of the line in this new relationship. I walked away from I Am Legend with a real sense of why he is such a prolific name in science fiction.
Extremely enjoyable peek into the psyche of a man struggling to survive in a world filled with vampires. The vampires take a backseat as this story focused on the mind of a man who believe he might be the last man alive on earth. We follow him as he struggles the understand the new world order around him, the memories of loved ones long gone, and the natural "urges" of a man who has been alone too long. The book is emotionally gripping and make you feel everything that Robert Neville experiences. Intense and emotional. Everyone should read this! If you saw the movie first (like I did), know that the two do not resemble each other in any way.
The characterisation was chilling and just as fascinating as the rest of the story. I think the lack of much of the back story heightens the suspense, but I still wish I knew more. Just in case you are wondering, this book bears only a passing resemblance to the movie of the same name.
One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was that I have seen two film versions of I Am Legend and this still felt original. I think it's because the main character is a truly human character. We get a front row seat to those flaws in the book and we get to do it as he battles vampires from a last man on earth perspective. It was a fun read. I will try more of Matheson's written work. (He also wrote many screenplays.)
Now the actual story itself is great, but man it really would've been a whole lot better had it been fleshed out to a longer book. Just when you are getting attached to the character, setting, and his cause, it's all over :(
Probably would've rated it higher had I known it included the short stories along with IAL