2016 Reading Challenge Book #6: I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

*Contains spoilers*

I also read this book weeks ago and failed to write a post or make a video about it.

I’m sure you know the basic premise of the story by now. The book is decades old. There’s an outbreak of a virus that turns people into what appear to be vampires. Dr. Robert Neville essentially makes it his life’s work to find a cure.

First, the book is NOT like the movie starring Will Smith. The stories are actually quite different and should be evaluated on their own individual merits.

The movie has a relatively happy ending. Dr. Neville sacrifices himself for the cure he finally finds. The book does not. There is no cure. Dr. Neville is taken from his home after he refuses to leave everything behind when a mysterious woman warns him of what’s to come. Then it becomes apparent that he’s now become an outsider to this new group of people. He’s different because he’s not infected. And he must be killed.

The book is exceptional. There’s no other way to say it. And it’s short, so you don’t have dozens of pages of filler. The writing is superb and Dr. Neville is a character you can easily relate to. Each night the loneliness he feels is nearly unbearable.

When I finished the book I immediately thought of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. He gave birth to the modern vampire. And his classic is nothing short of a masterpiece. But I Am Legend is nearly as brilliant.

I haven’t read too many vampire stories, but I imagine the two I’ve mentioned today are many steps above just about everything else out there.

Have you read either of these classic vampire tales?

This book satisfied the requirement from my reading challenge to read a book with a movie tie-in cover.

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7 thoughts on “2016 Reading Challenge Book #6: I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

  1. Read both of these, and I have to say I preferred I am Legend – wasn’t keen on Stokers whey faced female characters! I am Legend is exceptional – very human, very realistic, seeing the catastrophe through a small lens. And the film is great, but in a very different way, as you say

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    • I liked some characters more than others. Mina more than Lucy. My favorite is probably Dracula himself. Because this singular character (and monster) has so much power. It takes this feisty group to finally end his reign. But I Am Legend was superb. No doubt about it. Also, I enjoyed the Dracula TV show from a couple years ago. I think it only stayed on the air for one or two seasons.

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      • Never saw the programme, but I guess it’s a tricky one to pull off these days as Dracula has been so ‘done’. Yes, less to irritate the modern mind in ‘I am Legend’. I still haven’t read other Matheson books though I keep meaning to. He write scripts for The Twilight Zone and the books that Stir of Echoes and The Incredible Shrinking Man films were based on. Quite a writer all round.

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  2. Matheson is a master of shorter fiction and screenplays. I’ve read both of these and have to say I prefer I Am Legend – the writing conventions that were used when Dracula was written make it a harder read.

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  3. Hey, you read Matheson! I picked up the I Am Legend + Short Stories collection years ago. I read a few of the shorts but never started on the main novel/novella of I Am Legend. He is a fabulous author though. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

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