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Friday, 24 March 2017

Book Review: I Am Legend (and some short stories) by Richard Matheson

Robert Neville is the last man on earth...or is he? Following the outbreak of an incurable plague that has mutated every other human on earth into bloodthirsty, nocturnal creatures, Robert Neville must scavenge for food and supplies during the day, whilst hiding in his boarded-up, vampire-proof home at night. Living a solitary life for so long is not easy, and so he is constantly on the look-out for fellow survivors...


"The strength of the vampire is that no one will believe in him."
This was a buddy-read with my bestest friend, Abbie. We chose this because she is literally a speed-demon and if we had chose a long book, I would be lagging behind for too long! Turns out, I did lag behind anyway because even though we both finished I Am Legend pretty close to each other, my edition also had a selection of short stories written by Richard Matheson. So I'm only now "finishing" the entire book.

I had watched the movie I Am Legend a number of years ago. All I can remember about it is Will Smith and a dog... and that's it. Although what I've found really weird about my reading experience is that I did not cast Will Smith as the role of Richard Neville in my head - Abbie said she did.

I really liked this book, which was surprising to me given that its basically focused on one character. Usually I would find the lack of dialogue and conversation quite boring - although we did get some flashbacks to before the plague, which I particularly enjoyed, with some scenes being quite chilling. Similar to what Abbie said, the constant drinking and throwing whiskey around and smashing glasses did start to grate on me after a while. I understand his alcoholism - I'm pretty certain I might succumb to addiction myself if I was the lone survivor of some plague, but it just gets repetitive after a while. What was disturbing to me was his weird fascination with the female "vampires" - DUDE. What the fuck is wrong with you!!

Okay, so I feel like the last paragraph had a lot of complaining, so I'll talk about what I loved. I loved the SCIENCE. I was geeking out over Richard's thoughts about what possibly caused the plague. He was basically conducting his own research and it was like reading my day-to-day experiences in the lab - disappointment after disappointment. A theory that seems so promising quickly dispelled. Microbiology and bacteria are my forte, so his research around this area had me nodding along in agreement. So that was awesome. The "vampires" themselves were pretty damn scary. I got confused at times because I was like "Are they vampires or zombies? Or a mixture of both?" There were different types and it just wasn't explained very clearly at times.

As for the ending...WOW. I was blown away. One of the best endings I've ever read in a book. It felt completely out of left-field and left me a bit gobsmacked. AMAZING. I Am Legend was a great, quick read and I have to give it 5 stars out of 5. Matheson's writing is simply outstanding and I want to read more.

With regards to the short stories, some were great and some were not so great. Prey was a brilliant short story, it reminded me of Battleground by Stephen King. Dance of the Dead was also pretty eerie. I didn't really include the short stories when giving my rating for this book, as I simply wanted to rate I Am Legend as a standalone book.

But yes! More Richard Matheson is definitely on my radar. Now for another buddy read with Sadie, Mindi and Ashley from bookstagram - can't wait!

Johann
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