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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-09-26 04:19
"I am Legend" by Richard Matheson
I Am Legend - Richard Matheson

On the back of my copy, James Lovegrove is quoted saying that I am Legend is "...ultimately uplifting". I'm not sure I'd go that far.

 

I thought most of this book was a very fitting trudge. It would be sort of unbelievable if the story about the sole survivor of a vampire apocalypse was a light, airy tale, sure, but there in the beginning? When he's just a drunken, lusting, lonely fool?  Even during the edge-of-your-seat stuff about Robert Neville barely making it home before the savior sun takes his last bow? I wasn't sure I was going to take it to it's final page.

 

I had a better understanding of Matheson's talent once his horror story morphed into a sci-fi thriller and then,  just as quickly, turned back again. Suddenly, and surprisingly compared to the start, I was riveted, not only wondering what was going to happen next but also questioning my firm belief that Robert Neville had gone quite mad.

 

Good stuff if you can hang on.

 

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review 2016-08-15 01:12
Review: I Am Legend
I Am Legend - Richard Matheson

I had to crawl out from under a rock to read this book.  I actually didn’t know the first thing about it beyond that it was supposed to be some sort of classic science fiction story.  If I had known what it was about, I might have saved it for another time.  I’m now realizing that the cover I shelved makes the content really obvious, but I rarely pay attention to the covers when I shelve a book.  I just shelve the first edition I find when I search for a title; I don’t like to waste time finding the precise edition I own.  I do start from the cover when I read my e-books, but the cover in my actual e-book edition is different and doesn’t give any clues.

 

Even without the cover cluing me in, it was pretty obvious to me within the first page, if not the first paragraph, that this would be a vampire story.  Actually, I thought it had more of a zombie feel to it, based on how most of the vampires behaved.  I have a limited tolerance for those types of stories, and I’d already read a zombie book earlier this year.  This book is only 160 pages though, so it’s a very quick read, and it held my interest.  The middle third of the book dragged a little for me, but I enjoyed the rest of it and became particularly interested in it toward the end. 

 

The story centers around one man, Robert Neville, who believes he’s the last normal human alive.  I thought Robert was a rather inconsistent character, sometimes making really dumb decisions and sometimes appearing pretty intelligent.  He’s an alcoholic, and he definitely has psychological issues.  This may all be pretty realistic considering the trauma he’s been through and the horrors he’s seen, but he’s the kind of character who tends to get on my nerves.  He reacts emotionally to everything, and usually in such a way that just makes things worse.

 

Despite the vampires, I do think this is more science fiction than fantasy.  The author tried to create scientific explanations for the condition of vampirism and our main character spends some time researching related topics to try to understand what happened.   I don’t know if those explanations would sound the slightest bit plausible to anybody with a medical background, but my own ignorance generated a reaction that was mostly along the lines of “Ok, sure, whatever.”

 

The book was written in 1954, but it really didn’t feel dated to me.  Actually, there were a few times when fictional events from the early to mid-1970’s were referenced and I did a double take, because I’d forgotten that the 1970’s were the future from the perspective of the author.  Other than that, there’s nothing much about the story that makes it feel dated.

 

The ending was interesting, but not terribly surprising for me because it was similar to the ending of another more recently-written book that I’ve read.  I don’t want to name that book for fear of spoiling the ending of either book for somebody who has read one but not the other, but I imagine people who have read both might know what I’m talking about.

 

Over all I enjoyed the story and, like I said, it’s a really fast read.  The main reason I’m not rating it higher is because it got pretty tedious in the middle and because the main character got on my nerves quite a bit.

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review 2015-12-27 18:18
I AM LEGEND Review
I Am Legend - Richard Matheson

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 Am Legend was a major influence in horror and brought a whole new thematic concept to apocalyptic literature. Several humanistic and emotional themes in this book blend the horror genre with traditional fiction: we see Neville as an emotional person, and observe as he suffers bouts of depression, dips into alcoholism and picks up his strength again to fight the vampiric bacteria that has infected (and killed off) most of humankind. Neville soon meets a woman, Ruth, (after three years alone), who seems to be uninfected and a lone survivor. The two become close and he learns from Ruth that the infected have learned to fight the disease and can spend short amounts of time in the daylight, slowly rebuilding strength and society as it was.

 

*****

 

Being the big fan of horror that I am, I am always searching for new authors of the genre to read. Some are bad, most are enjoyable. Occasionally I get the chance to go back and discover one of the classic authors -- one of the true pioneers. In this case, that author is Richard Matheson.

 

Matheson was a name I had heard tossed around for years. He was one of those authors I knew I was going to read someday, but I always had other things to read and it always escaped my mind. This Christmas I got a Kindle Fire and was shopping around on the Kindle Store, and lo and behold, I saw classic horror tale I Am Legend for a mere $4.99. Having heard this was supposed to be a horror classic -- heck, I'd heard it was one of the scariest novels ever written -- I grabbed it (and a few other Matheson titles which I will be reading in the coming weeks and months) up and started reading. Almost 72 hours later I am done with Matheson's short vampire novel, so what did I think of it?

 

I liked it. I really, really liked it. I wasn't terrified by it as some online reviewers claim to have been, but the whole enchilada did creep me out a good deal. The star of the show is Robert Neville, witness of the end of the world which came on via plague. The rest of the world's population (or, at least, Neville assumes the rest of the world) has turned into vampires -- creatures of the night -- and their society is quickly growing. Because of this, Robert Neville (who is immune to the plague because of a certain incident that happened to him before the outbreak) is becoming the loneliest man on earth whose only companions during the story are a dog he tries to take in and a woman who stays with him for a short while. He spends his days and nights barricading his home -- the home he once shared with his wife and daughter, now both dead -- and listening to the screams of vampires outside, beckoning him. Creepy, isn't it?

 

While I didn't think this novel was particularly frightening, it was rather melancholy. This novel goes at the vampire theme from a different angle than most other novels of this kind do. Typically there is a group of survivors working together to kill off the bloodsucking creatures, but Robert has to do it alone. He becomes interested in the scientific aspects of vampirism -- how do they live? what, exactly, causes vampirism? etc -- which is something not often seen in stories like this. I rather enjoyed that, and it was a good touch on Matheson's part. As well, the ending was much darker (and somehow pretty comical) than I was expecting, which I really appreciated. It made the phrase "I am legend" a bittersweet one.

 

All in all, I really liked this short novel. It was a quick, pleasurable read that had me constantly reading further to find out what happened next. While I was a little disappointed that it turned out to not be the fright-fest I had heard it touted as, I still thought it was a really strong story. This is necessary reading for any horror fan.

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text 2015-12-26 04:55
Reading progress update: I've read 41%.
I Am Legend - Richard Matheson

Holy wow this book is good. 

 

Reading on a Kindle is taking some getting used to, but it's not as much of a hindrance as I thought it'd be. :) 

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text 2015-12-26 02:06
Reading progress update: I've read 1%.
I Am Legend - Richard Matheson

So. . . I got a Kindle Fire 8 HD for Christmas. This will be the first book I read on it. Huzzah.

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