Friday, 30 November 2012

I Am Legend

Title: I Am Legend
Author: Richard Matheson
Pages: 162 (paperback)
Published: 1954
Published by: Orion Publishing Group

Robert Neville has witnessed the end of the world. The world's population has been obliterated by a vampire virus, though Neville has somehow survived. As he toils to make sense of it all and protect himself against the hounding vampires who seek out his life force, Neville embarks on a series of projects to discover the source of the plague and hopefully put an end to the vampires.

First things first: this is nothing like the film. At all. They've taken the very very basic plot premise and done with it what they wanted. And the central character's name: Robert Neville. Pretty much everything else is different. The ending in particular, but I'm just going to ignore that.

Now, I love the film. Will Smith is one of the few actors who can pull off that amount of screen time alone. But he isn't really the Robert Neville we meet at the start of the story. True, he is more like the man he grows into, but even then there are differences.

Robert Neville at the start of the book is a broken man. Living alone, surrounded by vampires determined to drink his blood every night. His humanity is clear, and his flawed nature. He cares for his teeth rigorously because he is his own dentist, yet he drinks and smokes copiously. He fastidiously cares about his car, yet sometimes goes days without repairing his house from the damage caused by nightly attacks.

We see him surviving and nothing more. Indeed, barely that at times.

But things happen which make him start thinking again. There are quite a lot of biological terms and stuff thrown around in some parts which I won't even pretend to have followed a lot of the time (biology not being my strong point), but it was interesting watching him develop an interest in something.

The conclusions he come to are different and intriguing, and there is a rather amazing twist at the end which is something different from anything I've ever read before. This book is a 'Masterworks' without a doubt.

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