I Am Legend by Richard MathesonHm.
Honestly, this is a tough book to review.
I did like the story, but one of the biggest bothers for me here was not fully understanding why the world has gone to shit & why everyone is now a vampire.
The book just drops you right in the middle of Robert Nevilles situation, which is a day to day existence of killing vampires during the day & hiding in his house during the night.
Im the kind of SF reader who likes a bit of depth to be given to the cause of disaster, and this story largely glosses over the Why?
But Im coming at it from the angle of a reader who has exhausted the zombie/vampire/virus genre. For the time it was written, this probably struck readers in a much different way.
If youre basing your opinion of this book solely off your knowledge of the movie, Id ahead and throw that idea out the window because this book is nothing like the Will Smith, good-guy-out-to-save-humanity, crying-over-his-dog, self-sacrificing version Hollywood has created.
This is much darker.
In fact, I imagine a group of important movie folks came to the conclusion that Mathesons story is pretty nifty, but how about we throw out all the deep, scary conclusions about human nature & amp up the action x1000 & also we need a German Shepherd in there so Smith comes off as even more relatable & wholesome.
Robert Neville is not necessarily squeaky clean protagonist, and that realistic quality of his character is essential to the observations Matheson is making here. By the end, you arent 100% sure what outcome youre rooting for & for me that is one of the most powerful aspects of how the story is told.
But again, Im not sure Im fully on board with the details of why & how Neville has managed to survive for years under these conditions.
Neville has brick- & rock-proofed his home against the vampires that are constantly trying to get in with a reliable supply of garlic. He sound proofs his house, has a gas generator that he keeps running by way of a nearby gas station, and an ungodly amount of alcohol, cigarettes, and wine in his home.
I guess a scenario where all of those things exist in Nevilles possession isnt outlandish but the story itself wasnt long enough to explore any sort of break down of these proofs, and thus it felt a bit unrealistic to me.
Even so, Matheson does well in capturing the absolute lowest levels of human desperation, taking us down deep into the terrifying subconscious of a secluded man on the brink of losing his ability to be compassionate & remember what it means to be human.
The pro here is, if youre curious about this story, its short & will only take a bit of time to consume. If you dont love it, no big loss. If you do, well now you know!
Unfortunately I didnt love it, but I appreciate the concepts here & I definitely enjoyed the last 1/4 a lot more than the first 3/4. Worth a read!
This review and other reviews of mine can be found on Book Nest!
I Am Legend Ending Explained
The opening scenes of "I Am Legend" have special effects so good that they just about compensate for some later special effects that are dicey. We see Manhattan three years after a deadly virus has killed every healthy human on the island, except one. The streets are overgrown with weeds, cars are abandoned, the infrastructure is beginning to collapse. Down one street, a sports car races, driven by Robert Neville Will Smith , who is trying to get a good shot at one of the deer roaming the city. He has worse luck than a lioness who competes with him.
The toxin is airborne among humans and is spread through biting or blood. The virus mutation can infect living humans as well as revive dead organisms. Neville was a commanding officer that attempted to get his family out of New York City before the government sealed it off. However, in the chaos, his family is killed leaving him with their new puppy, Sam. Neville catches an infected being to run experiments on. The victims of KV experience vampire-like symptoms such as attraction to blood and repulsion to sunlight. One day, Neville gets trapped and injured by the zombies.
It's all that separates the opening scene showing a doctor announcing one of the biggest medical breakthroughs in history from the zombie apocalypse, which occurs due to a disastrous mutation of that very same breakthrough. With that in mind, what some feel is a confusing ending becomes far more clear when you understand Neville's personal journey. Created by genetically altering measles, the Krippin Virus had promised to be a "miracle cure. Alice Krippin Emma Thompson explained in a television interview, if the body were a highway, the virus was reprogrammed from a "very fast car, driven by a very bad man" to one driven by a police officer—one who cured all cancer-ridden patients during clinical trials. Sadly for the human race, that police officer turned on its citizens.
Alice Krippin is interviewed about her great discovery, she has changed the measles so that it attacks cancerous cells. She explains that all the cancer patients which her cure has been tested on have recovered so far. The scene jumps to three years later. We see New York City has become an empty and desolate place, devoid of human life. Grass covers roads and buildings, abandoned highways and the city is silent. It seems that apocalypse has arrived. Robert Neville Will Smith is driving through the deserted city accompanied by Sam , his dog.