Having watched, and thoroughly enjoyed the movie starring Will Smith, I decided to read the 1954 novel.
As many on Twitter have said, it is very different to the film, however, I still rate them both highly for being so different. It’s a refreshing change that a movie used a classic story arc, changed it, not beyond recognition but just enough to make it blockbuster-worthy. After all, Mathesons novel is only a mere 160 pages long, had it been copied to the letter, I think the film would of been only an hour long, 70/80 minutes max.
Mathesons main character, Robert Neville is the last living man on earth, but he’s not alone. Oh no, no, no, no no! There’s zombie-like vampires lurking as soon as night falls, and to say this book has fear factor would be an understatement. Rarely do I feel my heart banging in my chest when reading, it’s got to be pretty terrifying for me to have to take a breather like I did with this one.
After reading chapters 4 and 5 I got out the bath feeling quite shook up! Now that’s a sign of a good book eh?!
Apart from the overuse of the word ‘palsied’ to describe Neville’s bodily reactions, Matheson is an absolute master of tension-writing. Providing the reader can see beyond the era of the story-telling (it’s 1954, telling a futuristic (1979) sci-fi story, it’s bound to be “dated”, get over it, complainers, I’ve read what you’ve moaned about 🙄) it’s classic sci-fi/horror at its very best.
There’s nothing I like more in a book when I see a quote from another book!
“The strength of the Vampire is that no one will believe in him”. – Dracula by Bram Stoker
The descriptions are so strong, there’s a subtle beauty in this story that filters through all the fear and bleak darkness.
“Morning. A sun-bright hush broken only by the chorus of birds in the trees. No breeze to stir the vivid blossoms around the houses, the bushes, the dark-leaved hedges. A cloud of silent heat was suspended over everything on Cimarron Street”.
How gorgeous is that visual?! Seriously, Matheson pops these gems in throughout the entire book.
And then of course, there’s how relatable this book is, nearly 70 years on…
“Towards the end of the plague, yellow journalism has spread a cancerous dread of vampires to all corners of the nation. He could remember himself the rash of pseudo-scientific articles that veiled an out-and-out fright campaign to sell papers”.
“There was something grotesquely amusing in that; the frenetic attempt to sell papers while the world died.”
I am still feeling blown away by I Am Legend, it’s been hanging around in my thoughts all morning, it’s not a book I will easily shake off.