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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Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski

sixstories

book
Six Stories
By Matt Wesolowski
Publisher: Orenda Books
Kindle ASIN: B01MXTCYE9
Pages: 280
Genre: Mystery

Blurb:

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby.

2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame…

As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth. A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating ending


thoughts

Making rounds among some of my favorite bloggers, Six Stories was quickly establishing a reputation and catching eyes. So it wasn’t long after I found myself desiring a good mystery that I decided to take the plunge and explore exactly what the commotion was about. I approached with two questions in mind:

  • Would Six Stories live up to its newfound status?
  • Could Matt Wesolowski actually pull off what promised to be a very distinct and original narration?

Short answer: Yes and Yes.

Longer answer:

Six Stories explores the mystery surrounding the death of a young man named Tom Jeffries whose body was discovered a year after he disappeared during a camping trip. With no answers or evidence, his demise it ultimately ruled an accident.  But somewhere hidden among all of the unanswered questions lies the truth.

“After initial examination of the surrounding woodlands, the perimeters if the search were extended…. After twelve hours, Tom Jeffries’ body had still not been found. After twenty-four hours, the search perimeters were widened further….. No arrests were made.”

It is the chosen path to revelation that makes Six Stories so exceptionally clever and claims its deserved time in the spotlight. Narrated through a series of six interviews provided over the course of six podcast sessions, we are presented with an entourage of somewhat relatable yet at times unreliable individuals. One of which holds the missing piece of the puzzle surrounding Tom’s death.

The author has successfully inserted a full podcast into a book, and it goes off without a hitch! What transpires next is a complex tale delivered through multiple point of views, as each interviewed individual is forced to remember and explore the events leading up to Tom’s disappearance.

Six Stories effectively builds the tension as each session takes the reader deeper into the lives of all who were affected. It brilliantly combines elements of friendship, innocence, rejection, and torment to present a story that explores humanity to a rather large extent. I want to also note here that I have a profound admiration for the author’s ability to address the relevant topic of bullying and the consequences throughout this book.

The writing is immersive and inviting. The world constructed is tangible and unnervingly familiar. The final unveiling is a startling reminder that evil does exist.  Wesolowski takes traditional murder mystery and turns it into the remarkable. Once you enter Scarclaw Fell you will never truly leave again.

“There’s magic here between the trees.”

Honestly recommend this one for all. Enjoy!

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Brief Review of Let The Right One In Book/Movie

lettherightoneinthe-book
Let the Right One In
(Låt den rätte komma in)
By John Ajvide Lindqvist
Publisher: Quercus
ISBN13: 9781847241696
Pages: 513
Genre: Horror/Paranormal

Blurb:

It is autumn 1981 when the inconceivable comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden. The body of a teenage boy is found, emptied of blood, the murder rumored to be part of a ritual killing. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at long last—revenge for the bullying he endures at school, day after day.

But the murder is not the most important thing on his mind. A new girl has moved in next door—a girl who has never seen a Rubik’s Cube before, but who can solve it at once. There is something wrong with her, though, something odd. And she only comes out at night….


my-thought

*This title contains scenes of violence and sexual content that may be unsettling.

I love that moment when you can put a title down after completion and just stare at it in pure astonishment. I found myself doing just this with Let the Right One In for a multitude of reasons which I will now try to condense into something coherent.

I am going to be very forthright in the fact that there was absolutely nothing about this novel that I found myself lacking appreciation for. I mean nothing. So if you are seeking a critique or true dissection of the work, probably fair to look elsewhere. Here you are going to find only an attempt to summarize the mountainous pile of elements that worked so well for me within the pages.

“To flee is life. To linger, death.”

This was a very slow burn sort of read, but in the completely acceptable and most valuable sort of way. Every thing from the pace or narration to the world building worked in perfect correlation to achieve an unsettling atmosphere that fueled this dark book. It is rather difficult to fairly acknowledge all that the author has accomplished here. The fluid stream of tension and dread create a highly mood driven and otherworldly experience that I find myself struggling to convey. I soon discovered this was a very difficult title to put down. It was many things, but if I had to narrow my description down to a few words, inviting and unrelenting would be accurate.

The characterization that occurs within Let the Right One In is among some of the finest I have encountered.  Eli, Oskar and Håkan (among others) expose us to a variety of heavy emotions and spare no expense. Some are discovered to be very relatable while others are more horrific and difficult to read at the best of times. The narration triumphantly navigates through a rather large ensemble of unique individuals. Perhaps of greatest note is the fact that I never found myself longing to return to a specific character or portion of the story. Each encounter was of great contribution and interest. I was always content exactly where I was. While Oskar would be our protagonist, each claimed their own earned spotlight so it almost seems unfair to even use the word.

let-the-right-one-in-2008-still

The plot itself is disturbing yet completely engaging, pulling you into a complex and beautiful web of revelation and personal experience.  Since I truly believe that these revelations are key to the book’s success, I am actually going to refrain from a recap.

I have to applaud the author’s brazen decision to approach this story-line in an explicit and graphic manner as it was highly rewarding in the long run. Again, this will not be a fitting read for everyone. Which I mention “graphic” I am not using the word lightly. The author has chosen to sacrifice no detail.

This isn’t a simply story of a vampire but also of adolescence and life. We are exposed to humanity not only from the side of innocence and youth, but through the eyes of that which we fear. And being forced to acknowledge the existence of both is not always an easy pill to swallow. It challenges us and takes us to an uncomfortable depth that threatens a small amount of understanding or acceptance. That is what Let the Right One In does. It forces us to see each character for all they truly are and represent. It delivers us from the blissful ignorance and questioning of youth deep into the unnerving side of a polar opposite.

The fruit of Lindqvist’s labor results in an unapologetic experience that actually defines fear on a very human and uneasy level. This is a haunting and alluring read that dares to take the reader further into the dark reaches of paranormal from an entirely unique perspective. It feels wrong to say that I love this title the way I do, yet I simply do. Tackling a combination of raw reality and the unthinkable what if, this was a heavy read that I highly recommend to all who are comfortable with unsettling content.


Thoughts On the Film

For this brisk comparison I watched the 2008 film adapted by John Ajvide Lindqvist and directed by Tomas Alfredson. The cast included Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson and Per Ragnar. I stuck with subtitles as always. I am not a fan of dubbed films (plus partially deaf so 😉 ).

For those of you who may have missed my original post of the trailer:

Overall, the film ranked very high with me. Visually stunning, it managed to deliver a cinematic experience that easily captured the same foreboding atmosphere and mood established within the book. The cast effortlessly portrays what I felt to be a not only fair but interesting depiction of each character.

While it seems that a lot of the graphic scenes and more explicit content were omitted when transferring the story to film, it was a decision that was probably necessary. There are somethings that are just not as digestible when handed to you in image. There is a strong difference between reading and viewing certain topics and somethings are just not acceptable on film.

There were however, a few minor disappointments with the film adaptation. Here are my biggest complaints:

  • The experience was too condensed. I felt another 30 to 60 minutes of footage would have been more effective.
  • Details that contributed to the complexity of each character were lost due to the lack of dialog.  I felt that the addition of extra dialog could have replaced details that were lost due not receiving the narration that is provided in the book. Although I am torn on this matter because the lack of dialog contributes to the atmosphere.
  • There was simply not enough focus on the relationship established between Oskar and Eli. This is my biggest complaint and falls back to being too condensed. Time to elaborate on this would have been of great benefit.
  • Håkan’s role was completely downplayed . Admittedly, I believe this is due mainly in large to the fact that some of his identity was sacrificed to keep the film from becoming overly graphic.

I think too often we find that it is just impossible to fit an entire book into one film. There are always omissions and alterations to accommodate the big screen. The question is, was the end result effective? For me yes and a small no. A beautiful movie, but one of the rare occasions where I felt I might have enjoyed it more had I chosen to watch it first and then allow the book to fill the missing pieces. I do not normally recommend watching before reading, but in the case of Let the Right One In I feel it certainly could not hurt.

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