I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Oops! I’m back to reading about the end of the world. What a fool I am, yet I seem to be totally addicted. I’ve not yet seen any of the four films based on this novel (The Last Man on Earth (1964), The Omega Man (1971), I Am Legend (2007) and I Am Omega (2007) This last one was a straight-to-video release and sounds like it could be marvellously dodgy. I will track it down), but thought I’d give the book a go.
Robert Neville is the last man alive, or so he thinks. A virus has attacked the population and essentially turned them all into vampires of a kind. There are some who are still alive and breathing, but slip into a coma during the day, do not eat and search for blood. When they pass away, they remain animate and are more traditional vampires; although, when you’re thinking vampire here, think of a combination of vampire and zombie; not switched on, just staggering about. Neville cannot really understand why he is still alive, and why he is driven to study to find out what has happened and see if he can do anything about it.
It’s a quick read, compelling although, at times, quite repetitive. The character of Neville is very relatable; his drive to continue, his doubts, his high moments and the depths of his despair. And when his situation changes, it gets very exciting. I was exclaiming things aloud I was so surprised.
I Am Legend (2007)
In this version, the virus that caused the vampires was created by virologist Dr Alice Krippin (Emma Thompson in an uncredited role) as a cure for cancer – the sinister results did not come until later. Robert Neville (Will Smith) is a military scientist who continues to work on a cure despite his family and everyone he knows no longer around.
I like that it captured the emptiness of Manhattan, and that he has his lovely dog as a companion – there is a dog in the book, but it would have taken a long time to capture that subplot into the film. What I didn’t like is that we never really felt the despair that was beautifully caught in the book – the man, on his own, with little hope. It wasn’t the I Am Legend that I loved in the book, but it was a new I Am Legend to love.