Monday, 2 November 2009

'I Am Legend' (book review)

This is my all-time favourite book. Simply yet amazingly thought-provoking.


"Considered by many as a sci-fi classic, Richard Matheson's 'I Am Legend' seems years ahead of it's time. Written in the 1950s, but set in the 70s, the novel tells the story of Robert Neville; the last man on earth among a world of vampires. A virus has swept across the planet, either killing everything in it's path, or turning them into hominus nocturna. In order to fight the vampires, Neville researches the virus responsible, in an attempt to find a cure.

Matheson shows intensive knowledge of biology and chemical science, that is applied in a very realistic way; this marks the first work of fiction to employ the 'virus causing vampirism/zombie-ism' storyline.

'I Am Legend' is a landmark in the science fiction world, which has influenced many future works, including films such as 'The Omega Man' (Charlton Heston) and 2008's 'I Am Legend' starring Will Smith. Even movies such as '28 Days Later' are strongly influenced by the 'one man against the world' concept, that Matheson perfects so well.

The psychology behind the character of Neville is very detailed. With only a canine companion for company, it is not long before he begins to lose hope. His dreams are rekindled however, when he happens across a woman who has survived the contamination.

'I Am Legend' is not a long novel, making an easy read. However, in such a short time, the reader is able to identify with the character's life and history. This is done effectively through the use of flashbacks, which explain how Neville became the last man alive.

What should be noted, is that this book is not like the 2008 film adaptation. The message behind the novel's title is not revealed until the very last page and it is not the same as the film.

In short, if you are buying this because of the 2008 Will Smith film, expect something completely different.

A thrilling novel, which I read none stop in less than a day. Brilliant!"

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