October 25, 2008

I Am Legend: Review

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I watched the movie I Am Legend a few months ago and enjoyed it. (Who doesn't love Will Smith?) I really wanted to read the book by Richard Matheson after that but saved it for Carl's RIP Challenge. While it was quite a bit different, I liked it just the same.

Robert Neville is the only survivor of a terrible plague that's either killed everyone or turned them into vampires. These are the real deal; they come out only at night, fear garlic and crosses, and drink human blood. Every night he faces vampires who were once his neighbours, as they try to lure him out of his house. He's almost driven to madness by the sound of their voices.

During the day, he hunts the vampires down and destroys them, while searching for a cure to the disease that makes them what they are. He must make sure he is home by dark. I don't want to say much more about I Am Legend since it's very short and the ending packs a wallop.

What struck me the most about I Am Legend, is the terrible loneliness. Matheson strikes home what humans fear the most, not just the creatures lurking in the darkness, but being alone. Neville is so lonely that the sight of a dog brings him such joy. I also felt the tension building up inside Neville. He falls easily into rages and despair.

I wish so much to discuss the end, but I cannot do so without ruining it if you haven't read it. All I can say is that the title is the last line- it gives me shivers. The concept is a brilliant one and I've been thinking of it ever since.

There are some very tense moments when Neville doesn't make it home after dark. It's a fantastic horror tale without a lot of gore, much of the terror is psychological. That's the perfect type for me. Matheson's writing reminds me of Shirley Jackson's. It's smart, tense and has some commentary on society as well.

[There are a some short stories in my copy. I'm making my way through them. They're hit and miss; some very good, others not so.]

Highly Recommended


  1. I loved it! I'm so glad you liked it, too. I was fascinated by Neville's everyday "chores" and the ways he sustained himself for so long. Like Survivor with vampires!

    As for the short stories, some of the early ones were good, but overall I didn't care for them too much. My favorite was about the African doll. Can't remember the title.

  2. Oh yes: Prey. It was like Chuckie :)

  3. I haven't read the book, but I hated the scene in the movie when he had to kill his dog.

  4. I've had this on my TBR pile for a while. Sounds like I should inch it up closer to the top.

  5. The fact that the writing reminded you of Shirley Jackson seals the deal for me. Also, you made me really curious about the ending.

  6. I started this one, in fact I'm about 3/4 of the way through, and I gave it up, I think, because it didn't fit the preconception I had in my head from watching the movie. I wasn't expecting the kind of vampires the book describes. I keep intending to finish it though, because I hear the ending is really worthwhile!

  7. I read this for last year's RIP and I liked it a lot. That first scene where he doesn't make it back after dark had me on the edge of my seat! Although, the movie was very different from the book, one thing I thought the movie perfectly captured was the loneliness that's in the book. The book Neville seems a bit more unstable than Smith's Neville, but that scene with the mannequins after Smith's Neville loses his dog was really telling of just how close to the edge he really was.

    I'm glad you liked this one! I've been reading the other short stories pretty sporadically. I enjoyed the concept behind "Mad House." Talk about displaced energy!

  8. I really want to read this book. I actually meant to read it before I saw the movie but you know how that goes sometimes. Is the ending in the book very different from the movie? Ok, forget I asked. I'll just have to read it! :)

  9. I have yet to see the movie or read the book, but it's on my agenda--someday. I am glad you enjoyed both the movie and the book. I've heard the two are different. Which is probably just as well. Have a great week, Chris!

  10. I enjoyed the majority of the movie, but the ending felt rushed - and the title didn't really make sense. I've since read that the book explains the title so much better, and your excellent review has convinced me I need to read it. Thanks!

  11. Great review! The loneliness that Neville experiences is exactly what had the largest impact on me, I couldn't imagine how it would feel to be so alone.

    I'm glad you enjoyed the book and the movie. I had read the novel ages ago and had really high hopes for the film version but ended up hating it :(

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  13. I just finisehd readind the book and enjoyed it until the very end. However, the movie deviates from the novels plot. I liked the movie better.


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