Review - I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Title: I Am Legend

Author: Richard Matheson

Publisher: Orion Books - SF Masterworks

Release Date: 1954

Source: Own Copy
An acclaimed SF novel about vampires. The last man on earth is not alone ...
Robert Neville is the last living man on Earth ... but he is not alone. Every other man, woman and child on the planet has become a vampire, and they are hungry for Neville's blood.
By day he is the hunter, stalking the undead through the ruins of civilisation. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for the dawn.
How long can one man survive like this?

I’ve been sitting on this book since I bought it back in 2017, just never got around to reading it but the my favourite podcast discussed it on their Patreon episode and their discussion was enough to make me download.

Now first of all are these creatures of the nights vampires or zombies?  I say vampires, I’ve heard zombies.  As far as I know zombies usually do their thing all day long unlike vampires, so I am sticking with vampires.

Anyway I digress, this is an old book from 1954, how does it hold up now?  Not too badly is the answer, Matheson inspired Stephen King and it shows.  I’d seen the Will Smith film so wrongly presumed that the book would be the same.

The book centres around Robert Neville, happily drinking and smoking his days away all alone, a plague has swept America and he is stuck in his boarded up house in the suburbs where the plague ridden vampires come out at night and try to lure him out.  He’s having none of it of course, he’s lost his family but for the moment is just happy drinking himself in to oblivion and listing to classical music.

It follows his day as he checks the house is still in one piece, checks on his garlic supply and goes looking for things to salvage.  He is having the vampire equivalent of Groundhog Day.

He has a moment of revelation and decides he is going to learn about biology and virology and figure out what is causing the plague, he has nothing better to do so he goes looking for all the necessary equipment and some samples which involves getting a hold of some vamps.

Now it was at this point I did wonder if he really should have just given up, there are no other humans, the vampires outnumber him greatly, will figuring out what makes them tick be of any use?  He is surviving and doing a not too bad job of it but will it bring him happiness, it certainly won’t bring his family back.

It is however a good book, its a quick read at 175 pages, its also an old book so there are occasional un-pc moments but all in all I think Matheson has done a good job bringing this dystopian world to life and bringing Neville’s torturous existence to the pages. 

🌟🌟🌟🌟

16 comments

  1. Years ago I rented the film (back when you had to go borrow DVDs from a store) and it freaked me out so much that I stopped watching and made my husband go return the DVD even though it was 10pm.
    I think that, as I live in NYC, it hit too close to home for me. Now of course I feel like we're all living in a dystopian world so maybe I should try the book!

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    1. I’d imagine it would be, I listen to a podcast talking about it, they lived in NYC to and there where the same, all the buildings the new.

      The book is a bit different, not quite as scary as the film!

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  2. This looks good but I would not want to be this poor dude!

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  3. I was actually really enjoying this book until the ending which I didn't like. I've never seen the film though.

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  4. I saw the Will Smith movie and it freaked me out a little lol. Interesting to hear that the book is different though!!

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    1. I don’t think the book was as scary, maybe just me, but the film freaks me out.

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  5. The film adaptation with Vincent Price is MUCH closer to the book. It's about as perfect as a book to movie adaptation can get. Plus, Vincent Price is the king of horror for a reason... I'm glad you enjoyed the book!

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    1. I’ve never seen it, until a couple of days ago I didn’t actually realise there was other adaptations. I’ll check it out!

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  6. I also watched the Will Smith movie and liked it except for the ending. Didn't know it was based on a book from 1954. Glad to hear the novel held up all these years later. I wonder if it had a similar ending?

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    1. I think it depends which ending you watch, the film has two endings, a happy one and a not so happy. I think the ending in the book is a little different.

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  7. This is one I keep meaning to read. I've seen the movie though and probably ruined things for myself. :(

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  8. Thanks for the review. I have this on my October list of Halloween reads. And I agree... they are vampires. 🎃

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