Author Richard Matheson
I think I’m a rareity for the I am Legend audience. I’ve actually never seen either of the movies and knew very little about this book going into it. In full honestly, I thought it was just some last man standing post apocalypse story. I was surprised to find out it’s a vampire book! So I went into this one nice and fresh and was very pleased with the outcome.
Since I knew so little about this one going in it was shocking to discover how many things I now recognize have ripped it off. I had no idea! But now I’m sure to be seeing I am Legend in so many books and movies from now on.
The premise of the book is simple and familiar. A man is alone after everyone else he knows of has turned into a vampire. He spends his days surviving and his nights trying to drown out the cries of the undead. But there are some key differences which separate the man of this book, Robert Neville, from heroes of other similar stories.
First of all, Neville isn’t actually handling his situation very well. In apocalypse story after apocalypse story we see people summoning all of their strength to become a survival warrior with a master plan. Neville does what he needs to do to keep himself alive but them succumbs to getting absolutely black out drunk to forget the day before starting the next one. Honestly, this is far more realistic.
He’s depressed, lonely, scared, annoyed, likely has survivor’s guilt, and gets angry at himself for not being better or doing more. He talks to himself a lot and has an inner turmoil surrounding his personal ethics in his new world. It’s actually one of the only cases I can think of of a vampire book blatantly addressing the issue of wanting to get laid in an apocalypse but having to talk yourself out of taking advantage of a dead girl. It goes there and I greatly appreciate it.
This kind of honesty seems to be getting rarer and rarer in today’s book market. Everyone wants a best seller and nobody wants to piss anyone off. It’s flaccid creativity and isn’t worth my time. Cross some lines, the books will be better.
Second of all, he struggles with the concepts of myth verses reality. He is fully aware of vampire lore and can see what does seem to be true and what doesn’t. But he wants to know why. He uses the scientific method to figure out why garlic keeps the vampires away and how crosses and mirrors and stakes come into play.
I am Legend is a very short book but it gets deeper into morality, mythology, science, mental health, coping mechanisms, and survival instinct than entire vampire series. It does a lot with only a few pages. In fact, if one part had caught me on a worse day I could’ve cried like a baby. It summons deep emotions, instinctual emotions.
The third reason I am Legend stands out against its “peers” is the ending. It is unnexpected, complex, and absolutely perfect. Without spoiling too much it has to do with the evolution of society and how myths become reality or vice versa. How someon can become a legend.
I strongly recommend reading I am Legend regardless of whether or not you’ve seen the movies or think you know all about it already. It’s a vastly underrated classic. It’s so much better than that stupid Dracula. What an absolute bore that one is! And this one is about an eighth of the length!
So go, read I am Legend, you wont be disappointed.
5/5 garlic bulbs 🧄🧄🧄🧄🧄
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