I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

legendbook
I Am Legend
By Richard Matheson
Publisher: RosettaBooks
Kindle ASIN: B00514HDNW
Pages: 162
Genre: Science Fiction

Synopsis:

Robert Neville has witnessed the end of the world. The entire population has been obliterated by a vampire virus. Somehow, Neville survived. He must now struggle to make sense of everything that has happened and learn to protect himself against the vampires who hunt him constantly. He must, because perhaps there is nothing else human left.

*I have shortened this synopsis as it is unnecessarily lengthy, and I feel it reveals a key element better left to discovery.


thoughts

I Am Legend has been on my list for years. I am not sure why I let it go for as long as I have. I enjoyed both films greatly, although I hold a particular fondness for Omega Man (1971) with Heston. I feel it holds a bit truer to the actual book, but there are a few more adaptations in existence (so I am told).

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.

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78 thoughts on “I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

  1. Wow! You made this sound really interesting! I’ve only seen part of the film (I thought there was only one but I guess I was wrong) and it was all right. But I might actually want to read this someday!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Krysta! I think this one has a lot to offer once you dive below the surface. I would compare it to my experience with The Man Who Fell to Earth in the sense that they both address humanity in a very original way. I would love to see a review if you ever chose to read it.

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  2. Yes! Yes! Yes! I f#cking love this book, notice how I didn’t swear and used the # symbol, being a gentleman! 🙂

    Can’t disagree with anything that you said as it is such a truly stunning book, a real classic. And, yeah, 1954, damn, same year that my mother was born but reading it you really wouldn’t think it was written that long ago! 🙂

    Awesome review my dear! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Damn right and for me, I found it awesome that it was set in the 70’s too, no modern technology or anything like that (obviously with it being released in 1954 there wasn’t modern technology) but it was refreshing not dealing with Internet, mobile phones and all other hi-tech stuff that new releases have.

        Really deep for a zombie/vampire/end of the world book too.

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  3. I’ve had this book for years (got it on an Amazon Kindle deal), and yet I still haven’t read it. I keep bumping it to the back of my TBR pile. I think I’ll have to move it up now. I like that it’s a shorter read, too. I haven’t seen Omega Man, but I did see I am Legend (which I liked a great deal).

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  4. Great review! I’ve always been curious about this book, as a guy I knew in college raved about it. But because I didn’t like other things he recommended, I never looked into it. I’ll have to add it to my TBR!

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  5. Great review- you really do the novel justice. I love how Mathieson plays with the reader’s view of the vampires through the novel- and eventually subverts the idea of monsters. This is up there with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.

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  6. Great review- you really do the novel justice. I love how Mathieson plays with the reader’s view of the vampires through the novel- and eventually subverts the idea of monsters. This is up there with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.

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  7. …is it awful that I didn’t realize this was a book? As one of my friends kindly said, I’m somewhat ‘culturally challenged’ when it comes to classic books or movies 😛 I saw the Will Smith adaptation a few years back and thought it was a take-it-or-leave-it kind of movie. Your enjoyment for the book is evident in this wonderful review, though! It must have been challenging for Richard Matheson to convey the despair and anguish of a character who finds he’s the last human alive, but it seems he succeeded. I’m so pleased you enjoyed it 😀 Another book for my newly made sci-fi TBR list 😛

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    1. I love when you decide to pick up these titles! It is so fun to see if we take the same away from them. I think you will be able to appreciate this one. It has that abstract approach to humanity. You picked up on that so well with The Man Who Fell to Earth ❤

      Not bad that you did not realize it was a book either 😉 I did not for the longest time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It certainly sounds a lot more promising than the movie adaptation 🙂 I imagine a lot of the book’s themes – like humanity – were lost in the transition between page and movie. I’m hoping to watch the movie adaptation of ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’ in the next couple of days and I’m intrigued to see if the book’s main themes – loneliness etc – are still present within the movie 🙂

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        1. I am also planning to watch that! I have the special edition here. Just waiting on time for a friend to come over and share the experience 🙂 I did rewatch Omega Man (adaptation of I Am Legend) last night and giggled because it certainly does not hold as true to the book as I remembered. Oops 😉

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  8. Eeep! Seriously creepy cover. I haven’t heard of this book/movie, so I’m glad I got to read this post! It sounds really interesting. I don’t know if I’ll get to the book, but I’d like to get the movie on my October list, I think. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you enjoy the film, but admittedly have to recommend the book more 🙂 Way better. I am a bit surprised at how many people are not familiar with this one, but it has probably been on my radar because I go through sci-fi spells 🙂 Have a great weekend!

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  9. Excellent review! It took me a long time to read this one as well, but I had a similar experience when I finally read it last year. It’s such a fascinating story, and without doubt WAY better than the most recent movie which I had somehow seen first.

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    1. Haha that poor movie. We are bashing on how it didn’t live up. And it really didn’t. I think the book gets passed up by a lot of people who saw that film first. It is too bad. The book is definitely a worthy read. Than you so much! 🙂

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  10. This sounds absolutely fantastic!! I really liked the film, but had never even thought of reading the book, because I found out it was a book such a long time after watching it. But now I definitely want to check this out!! Awesome review!!

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  11. Wow I feel totally naive, I have never heard of this book, how have I never heard of this book?! It sounds wonderful, thank you for another show stopper of a review! Book added to wish list and wrists slapped for ignorance!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am probably do a re-watch of the film. I watched Omega Man again last year, but not the latest. I do feel the book provides a much richer story. The narration really increases that sense of madness and desperation. Maybe you will read it sometime? 🙂

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  12. Well, this is encouraging… I am not that … well-read in scifi but many of the reviews I come across touch the ‘humanity/human condition’ side of it and it’s something that really appeals… as you would know 🙂
    I haven’t read, nor seen the movies, but you do make this sound very interesting… hahaha, plus 162 pages? easy peasy! XD

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Easy peasy lemon squeezy! I say just do it 😉 It is definitely a quick read that packs a punch. The theme in this one is heavy but addressed in such an entertaining and well written manner. The author was ahead of his time in my opinion 🙂

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  13. It’s a great book, isn’t it? It’s one I always recommend to people who say they don’t really enjoy science fiction, because it’s so much more than that. It does what the best of fiction does – tells us something about humanity. I’m glad you enjoyed it so much. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I haven’t though I did see the film many moons ago. I shall look out for it – thank you! My recommendation to you would be Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles – it’s a collection of linked short stories and the later ones are gorgeously written and have plenty to say about humanity…

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  14. I remember sitting in the movie theatre, and when Will Smith yells “can someone say hello to me?” or something like that (saw it in French) I was the stupid girl so engrossed in the movie that I said hello out loud and got pop corn and “shuush” thrown at me… That’s it for the useless memory xD
    I love this review for so many reasons. I often find this genre doesn’t depict the loneliness of those situations enough. I mean, even if a group survives, you still have the weight that the rest of the world is gone, and I’ve not often felt myself feeling this loneliness. You wrote a superb review and I’m just adding this book to my list now!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you connected with the movie so well, you really should find a lot in this book to appreciate!

      I love that you responded to the film like that! ❤ It has been a while since an actual movie has touched me in such a way.

      Thank you so much ❤ I hope this will be one of the few sci-fi books you come to love Twin Pea 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Inge! I need to re-watch that particular film to see how I feel after reading the book. I re-watched an older adaptation (Omega Man) last night and realized that it did not follow the book as much as I originally remember haha.

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  15. I’ve seen the Will Smith adaptation of this one so many times but I never knew it was a book. Nor did I know it had other adaptations. That’s so cool! You keep reviewing books that I didn’t realize were books 😂. Either way, this is another one that is going on my TBR because I love the adaptation I’ve seen and am now curious how it matches up with the book. Great review as always, Danielle!! 😁♥

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  16. When you mentioned Omega Man, I thought you were referring to the DC Comics superhero team, until I realized they were actually called Omega Men.. not man hahah I saw I am Legend back when it first released (with Will Smith) and enjoyed it (wasn’t blown away though). I was a kid though, and I feel like if I re-watch it now, I’ll be bashing it pretty hard. When I discovered it was based on a book (a book that is claimed to be 100000 times better than the movie) I couldn’t resist the impulse to add it to my TBR! It’s been a while that it’s been there, but this review (especially when you mention that there’s MORE to the story; a much deeper look into humanity/psychology of man) makes me want to read ASAP!!! I swear, Danielle, you always read the coolest books (before I could hehe)!!! Wish you lived around the corner!! I need more bookworm friends who READ the COOL stuff!! 😛 Awesome review, as always!!! 😉

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    1. Haha if I lived around the corner, we would spend all day stealing from each other’s TBRs 😛 Don’t judge me.. but I know nothing of Omega Men..eek. You know me and superheros sigh. But you are slowly educating me 😉 I do recommend bumping this up a notch or two. Such a deep read if you really peel away at the surface. I would love to trade thoughts! Thank you Lashaan!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. This is so embarrassing, but I didn’t realize this was a book! Well. Now I must go out and find this and read it. I do love speculative dystopian literature. There’s something about it…. I love exploring how the human psyche might change in these situations, and it helps me appreciate the world I live in much more. Do you have an idea of which Matheson book you’ll pick up next?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You *do* like those creepy reads. 🙂 I hope that the rest of Matheson’s books hold up just as well as this one.
        I love finding out after the fact that a film is based on a book. It shows that it’s not a NYT Best Seller-based book; Hollywood is exploring other spaces! Plus, it opens my eyes to new authors and books. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  18. I never realized this book was published in the 50s nor that it was only 160-ish pages long! I’ve seen parts of the adaptation staring Will Smith, but never all the way through. I’m happy to hear that you recommend the audiobook, because I was just thinking to myself that I should see if it is available through my library’s digital database. One of my goals for this year was to read more Sci-Fi… and I’m failing so far lol Thanks for the rec!

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