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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Rating: 4 out of 5

ISBN (edition I've read): 9780575081987

Read between: 24-02-2013 to 05-03-2013

Though the cover page of this edition and the title of the book resembles the Hollywood flick named the same, starring Will Smith, the story seldom similar.

I Am Legend, though, was a trailblazing and later much imitated story that reinvented the vampire myth as SF. Without losing the horror, it presents vampirism as a disease whose secrets can be unlocked by scientific tools. The hero Robert Neville, perhaps the last uninfected man on Earth, finds himself in a paranoid nightmare. By night, the bloodthirsty undead of small-town America besiege his barricaded house: their repeated cry "Come out, Neville!" is a famous SF catchphrase. By day, when they hide in shadow and become comatose, Neville gets out his wooden stakes for an orgy of slaughter. He also discovers pseudoscientific explanations, some rather strained, for vampires' fear of light, vulnerability to stakes though not bullets, loathing of garlic, and so on. What gives the story its uneasy power is the gradual perspective shift which shows that by fighting monsters Neville is himself becoming monstrous--not a vampire but something to terrify vampires and haunt their dreams as a dreadful legend from the bad old days.

My take on the book:
This novel is altered out of recognition when filmed as The Omega Man(1971). If I am not wrong, it is very much likely to mistake this story to be the same as the story of the Hollywood flick, named I Am Legend, starring Will Smith (not to mention, my favourite actor).

Avoid the movie; read the book, says David Langford, referring the movie, The Omega Man.

The most striking attribute about the story is how the author draws a link between two distinct of genres - Horror and Science Fiction. Vampires are the subject of horror and fantasy, Richard Matheson had made a remarkable effort putting out the effort of putting forward scientific reasoning of Vampires and their fears - fear of gingers, crosses, etc.

The cover of the edition I read is a fairly misleading. First of all, the text at the bottom of the cover page - NOW A MAJOR FILM STARRING WILL SMITH - is a fake and the cover page, at the first place, is a wrong. The only connection between the movie, starring Will Smith, and the novel are the titles and both of them revolve around zombies (vampires) apocalypse. The book is a master piece. And so is the movie starring Will Smith.

The movie dealt with the surviving of the last man on the earth, searching and waiting for other survivors. But this novel's story is only about the survivor and his feelings of being the last man alive.

The feeling of the person are so well described that there were moments I cringed at the protagonist's loneliness.

Very well narrated. Easy language. Awesome plot line. Heart-touching narration. Amazing read.

Every person who have watched and liked the movie, I Am Legend, starring Will Smith, should read this. Also the readers who have a lapping taste for horrors and sci-fi must give this book a try...

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