Annalisa's Reviews > I Am Legend and Other Stories

I Am Legend and Other Stories by Richard Matheson
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Jun 12, 08

bookshelves: mystery-thriller, movies, horror, speculative, guy-lit, sci-fi
Recommended to Annalisa by: Ryan
Recommended for: guys
Read in March, 2008

If a movie is adapted from a book, I refuse to watch it until I've read the book. Had I known this was a story beforehand, I would have read it first. As it is, my review leans heavily on a comparison between the story and the blockbuster film, a movie I liked until I read this book (ok technically it's a novella) and realized how much they messed with the essence of the story. I would love to see an old black and white Hitchcock-esque film as the story was intended. The writing's not great, but the idea is a good one.

I thought it was creepier in the book that the vampires were people he had known in life who knew he was in his house and stood outside his house calling him. Creepy. His moral complex about killing the creatures brought a different depth as well. Plus Neville is just an average guy trying to survive so you feel more connected, can put yourself in his nightmare more easily, giving the plot a better horror edge.

The interaction with the woman is better too, more of a reason to be tense and distrustful, where in the movie she is obviously not infected so you'd have no reason not to embrace her. His rage and distrust of her didn't make sense where in the book you truly doubted that another human would have all of a sudden appeared on his doorstep. It's the point at which the movie crumbles and the book picks up.

In the end, Neville's left with this Darwinian revelation vs a lame Hollywood saves the day ending for mass audiences. It would have made such a great ending. It's such a great twist on your expectation of horror. The title makes sense in the story, leaving you to contemplate its creepy abruptness, so not what I was expecting and better than any ending I could imagine because it switches your frame of reference.

About the writing: I especially found the middle section hard to follow and dull with poorly explained bacteria research. I would read sections a couple of times before giving up trying to understand his spotty logic. In parts to keep the suspense alive he would not completely explain himself but then forget to explain later so I was left to question. And I never completely understood the difference between the dead and live vampires. I think that could have been better explained as well. It's a good idea, poorly written, but it's worth it for the good idea.

The other stories in the book are just okay, only one or two of which I liked enough to remember. I think part of the downfall of the other stories is that they are futuristic stories written half a century ago so his creations just don't jive with modern realities.
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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Jane Lee I could relate about the seemingly hurried middle section of the book. It was hard to keep up with all the erratic and jump here to there writing. The only part I started to like was when Ruth showed up. Nice review! :)


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