Author: Richard Matheson
Type: Fiction, short stories
Full title: I Am Legend and Other Stories
I read it: December 2007
The book gets a different review if you take into account all the included stories. So I just separated them from the main story instead.
I Am Legend: It is easy to see why this novella is a masterpiece of the horror genre. Vampires are dissected in a scientific manner by the protagonist, who is the last “normal” person on Earth. It is enthralling to read about Robert Neville and his torment at having nobody; how he handles the lonely new world he inhabits is a what-would-you-do tale injected with a modern take on the classic bloodsuckers. Once you get to the last line of the book and realize its import, the story is truly badass.
The short stories: The novella is only 170 pages, and the other half of the book is made of up Matheson’s short stories. I have no idea if these are supposed to be his best, but I hope not. Maybe they are his earliest and that’s why they’re so shaky. Most have intriguing plots but seem to be nothing more than a rough draft; the narratives don’t flow very smoothly and a lot of the ideas seem forced. The two that stand out would be the first and the last, “Buried Talents” and “Person to Person.”
Movie opinion: We all know that Big Willie recently brought an adaptation of this book to the big screen. The first two-thirds is really good, and Smith is an amazing Neville. But alas, this movie is about mutants, it is not about vampires. Of course this makes a big difference in what the title means, and the insertion of a warm Hollywood ending was probably inevitable. But what can you do, the book still exists as its own entity, so I can’t complain too much if the movie isn’t very faithful.