Monday, March 31, 2008

Richard Matheson - I Am Legend

When I found out that I Am Legend was based on Richard Matheson's novella of the same name, I was really interested to read the book, especially after realising that the movie took a very different direction from the book. It's a little tough to compare the book to its film version as they really are so different from each other but I think both are good. The "legend" theme takes a slightly sinister twist in the book and the overall tone of the story is darker than portrayed in the movie. I think Matheson did a terrific job in capturing the desolate loneliness of the protagonist and how he copes in such a nightmarish world. The sections where Robert Neville tries to befriend a dog, the first creature he's come into contact with that hasn't exhibited symptoms of the vampire virus, are truly touching and heart-breaking. In fact, in the movie, it is the friendship and bond between man and dog that really affected me as well. Overall, this was a really great read that did not feel dated at all, even though it was first published in 1954.

There were also other short stories included with this novella, although there was no mention of them on the back cover at all. I'm not sure if the original was published like that, or this is something unique only to this edition. It took me a while to figure out that I had actually finished reading I Am Legend! I didn't really like all of them, but most were okay with a few standout ones that gave me the creeps! That to me is what makes a successful horror story. My faves from the short stories were The Near Departed; Prey; Mad House; and Person to Person.