I recently listened to I am Legend by Richard Matheson. This was one of those cases where I had seen the movie first and I didn’t even know it was a book. Just perusing Audible‘s library lead me to this one. Reviews looked pretty good so I decided to try it out.
The first thing you notice is that it’s going to be different from the movie. Mostly because right away you see that these things are not what they were in the movie. They are vampires or some version of them. The movie was more a remix of the book. It definitely changed a lot of the book and tweaked it. You still got Robert Neville. He spends his days in Los Angeles trying to survive, comprehend and maybe cure the disease that has taken over the world. He spends his days alone after everyone, including his wife and daughter, have died or become the living dead.
Like in the movie he scavenges during the day and boards himself up in his home at night, using the usual garlic and crucifixes to protect him. His neighbour and friend who is now a vampire, along with many others, usually surround his house at night trying to tempt him out in various ways.
He finds a dog one day rather then already having one like in the movie. It’s a welcome sight as he hasn’t had anything to interact with asides from the vampires and that’s just trying to ignore then as he goes insane. Unfortunately the dog doesn’t last long as it’s in really bad shape.
You spend day after day finding out what Robert does to pass the time. As you can imagine a man alone in the world goes a little nutty. He’s aggressive, depressed, self destructive, and desperate. You learn through flash backs/memories about what happened at the beginning of the crisis. He occasionally goes through bouts of optimism and is motivated about figuring out what the disease is and how to perhaps cure it. Book Robert is not a doctor/scientist like in the movie. Book Robert has to go out and learn how to research and do experiments.
He isn’t always safe. Sometimes there are lapses in judgement or his disregard for himself gets him in trouble. He often thinks about doing himself in, but never does. There are many heart pounding moments when he is being chased because he stayed out to late and must make it back in his house.
One day everything changes when he comes across a woman outside. It’s been years since he has seen anyone alive that wasn’t infected. He aggressively makes contact with her. As you can imagine a man living alone looks a little crazy after a while. He’s hairy, unkempt and gets the crazy eyes full of desperation. He ends up capturing her and after some times gets her story from him. She has apparently been living with her husband for the last 3 years, but he died a couple weeks ago.
I thought this whole book was pretty interesting to listen to. I’m not sure if I was a big fan of the narrator of this one, Robertson Dean. Just a little too aggressive, though maybe that was the point. It was really interesting to get the original story and see how it varied from the movie. The ending is completely different. You can see where the movie drew inspiration from the book, but I’d take them as mostly separate entities. I liked the movie and the book was not bad. The book left me with an incomplete feeling. It makes sense where it ended since it was all from Neville’s point of view, but I felt like I needed more.