I AM LEGEND
by Richard Matheson
“Come out, Neville!”
After hearing that the original story is quite different to the Will Smith film, and that it is considered the best vampire story of the 20th century, I thought I’d give it a crack. I’m glad I did!
The story is relatively short, but that’s not a bad thing. It delves into the mind of Robert Neville as he attempts to cope with being the sole survivor of a vampire apocalypse. At some points the story jumps about a little, but for 3 years to be crammed into a novella, you kind of expect it. Still, you get a good feeling on how Neville’s life is after everyone goes vamp on him.
Events unfold through the story making his life continually seem more grim. Things begin to escalate quick as he learns the truth of the infected, leading to an unavoidable, but legendary ending.
I actually watched the movie again after reading the book, trying to trace the origins of everything to that story written in the fifties. The only things that are identical are the character names and that there is a dog. Even the whole theme of the dog is completely and utterly different. That said, it’s easy to see everything in the book inspiring all the details of the film. I’m not going to say one is better than the other; both the book and the film are fantastic in their own ways.
It’s easy to see how this short story, written in 1954, influenced a lot of books, movies, and video games that have been quite popular over the last decade. If you are a fan of anything survival, dystopian, zombie, or vampire, I’d highly recommend giving it a read. The only negative thing I can say about the book, is that I wanted more.
Want to read it now? Buy I Am Legend from Amazon.