Stephen's Reviews > I Am Legend and Other Stories

I Am Legend and Other Stories by Richard Matheson
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Dec 04, 13

bookshelves: audiobook, horror-classic, fang-bangers
Read on January 13, 2011, read count: 2

4.0 to 4.5 stars. Okay, this rating is going to a take a little explaining. Unfortunately, I don't have a slide show or any multi-colored pie charts to assist me as a visual aid on this one so I will try to be as clear as I can. Warning: I will probably be required to use quite a few i.e. and e.g. to provide clarification to my statements as well as some targeted use of bold and italics given that I am reviewing here without the safety net of my usual visual aids. I have also decided to throw in the occassional word in Spanish...why you ask?....why not I answer?

Okay, from a pure “enjoyment” standpoint (e.g., Steve, while reading, looks down and notices his toes tapping involuntarily to the smooth, jazzy flow of the narrative), I would probably go 3 to 3.5 stars (i.e., no toe tapping, but I did have the occassional feeling of warmth in my tummy....though that could have just been the tacos). Richard Matheson is a terrific writer and, as with most of his work, this story is very well written(i.e., I have zero complaints about the prose or the technical choices Matheson took in constructing the narrative).

My issue was really with the main character, Robert Neville who was not the most compelling or interesting character that I have ever come across. Since the entire book is spent lollygagging around with Robby as he provides running jogging walking commentary, it subtracted a bit (for me at least) from the enjoyment of the reading experience.

So why the 4.0 to 4.5 stars? Several reasons that are mucho importante (Oh, yeah...that's right, I just turned this into my first bilingual review).

First (Primero) is the plot. This book, written in 1954, was the genesis for EVERY zombie book that follows and provides the basic framework for most of the post-apocalyptic undead fiction being produced today. I would also point out that it is one of the best of these kinds of stories despite being the first.

Here is the basic plot or argumento: Robert Neville is the sole survivor of a pandemic that struck the world and caused the infected to exhibit all the signs of vampirism (vampirismo). He spends his day gathering supplies, fortifying his house and killing the sleeping “vampires” and spends his nights barricaded in his house and fending off attacks from the walking dead. Sound familiar? Well this is the book that started it all and I felt that deserved some serious recognition for both for its originality and Matheson's being a trailblazer (pionero) of the zombie sub-genre.

Second (Segundo), is the back story and explanation of both the plague and the “vampires” which I thought was nothing short of EXCELENTE (i.e., magnifico). While certainly not good science in the sense that it can be analyzed objectively, the explanations given are compelling and very interesting reading. I actually wish more time had been spent on this aspect of the book because I thought it was just fantástico (i.e....if you really need a translation of this that one, you need to put the crash helmet back on).

Third (Tercero), is the end of the book which, in my opinion, is worthy of 5 stars all by itself. I would say that goes double for the very last line of the book (which I think makes it a 10 star ending, but I will have to go back and check my math). Thus, Matheson being the superb writer that he is, not only invents a sub-genre but then, over 50 years after the fact, still can claim to have one of the best written, most original examples of it. That is pretty especial.

Thus for all of the reasons (motivos)above, I am giving the book a rating of 4.0 to 4.5 stars despite not always “enjoying” the book as much as I would have liked. However, if you haven’t read this, I would highly recommend it as I think it has a lot going for it.
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Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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message 1: by mark (new)

mark monday it is interesting to me how the meaning of the title changes from the novel to the big-screen version.


Stephen I agree. I loved the book's use of the phrase.


message 3: by mark (new)

mark monday i definitely prefer it. it is so much more meaningful and multi-leveled than how the film views the title. poor vampires, just trying to build a post-apocalyptic society, and here jerk-face is taking them down one-by-one. nice Legend you're creating, post-apocalyptic-human-killer!


message 4: by David (new)

David The movie (most recent version) was horrible! Especially after they changed the ending after screening it with test audiences who didn't like Will Smith not being a hero.

The Vincent Price version is actually a pretty faithful adaptation, though a bit cheesy, naturally.


Sesana Exactly how I felt about the book. It's really fascinating how much of the zombie blueprint comes right back here. And that ending... For a book that's practically an archetype by itself, to have an ending that is still that jaw-dropping nearly 60 years after first publication is quite a feat. Fantastique. (This now makes your review-plus-comment-thread trilingual.)

I will continue to pretend that there is no movie version with Will Smith. It helps me sleep better at night.


Stephen "For a book that's practically an archetype by itself, to have an ending that is still that jaw-dropping nearly 60 years after first publication is quite a feat. "

Exactly. I couldn't agree more, Sesana.


message 7: by Joni (new) - added it

Joni Willis-varble I thought the movie was better than the book


message 8: by Joni (new) - added it

Joni Willis-varble Keep to the English, this is America!


message 9: by Eric (new)

Eric Rinaldo Ah, nothing like an ignorance, eh Joni?


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