Book Review: I Am Legend and Other Stories by Richard Matheson
Orb Books | Published September 15th, 1997
Robert Neville is the last living man on Earth...but he is not alone. Every other man, woman, and child on Earth has become a vampire, and they are all hungry for Neville's blood.
By day, he is the hunter, stalking the sleeping undead through the abandoned ruins of civilization. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for dawn.
How long can one man survive in a world of vampires?
I am legend --
Buried talents --
The near departed --
Witch war --
Dance of the dead --
Dress of white silk --
Mad house --
The funeral --
From shadowed places --
Person to person.
I've always wanted to read this book just because I wanted to know what the differences are between the book and the movie. It was very interesting to be sure. In here, we find Robert Neville as the lone survival of humanity that perished due to vampirism. We see him descend slowly seemingly to madness. He turned to alcohol if only to shut off the voices in his head and to deafen the howling monsters that roam at night.
It started off innocuously enough: a sandstorm that kept everyone indoors. What they don't know was what the particles of sand brought; a virus, that turned everyone not immune to blood-sucking parasites. This was the first difference that I could discern. In the movie, it was a cure for cancer. And while the infected do not subsist on blood, they became rabid and no amount of garlic, holy water, or a Crucifix could scare them off. In the book, Robert Neville set traps with bloody steak and uhm, wooden stake to kill them. As well, they have an aversion to garlic and cross. So your stereotypical vampires, in other words. But one thing the movie and the book have in common is that the turned can be killed with daylight.
So Robert Neville is slowly losing his mind when he spots a dog. An actual living, breathing, uninfected dog. He tried so hard to get the dog to trust him until one day when the dog actually came to him. The dog becomes his companion but only for a short time. The movie also had a dog but it was theirs since it was a pup and not a stray not like in the book. If you've seen the movie, you already know that the dog got infected and Robert had no choice but to put it down. That was a sad moment all around. One that drove Robert to give up and let the monsters have their way with him.
But then a woman shows up. In the movie, a woman named Anna showed up with her son. In the beginning, Robert couldn't trust her. She has an answer for everything and it seemed as though she wasn't at all broken up about losing her husband a week before. And while she agreed to get tested, it turned horribly for Robert.
The similarities between the movie and the book ended here. The woman in the book was a member of the infected who had a way of hiding their infection. She also could walk in the daylight, which was why Robert tentatively trusted her to begin with. While movie Robert was an actual Scientist whose contribution to the cure for cancer brought the demise of humanity in general, book Robert is just a regular Joe who decided to figure out how he can cure the undead.
I will not mention how this ends, but let's just say my curiosity was satisfied. I enjoyed them equally; the movie stands up on its own merits, and the book was a fast, thrilling read.