I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

80%

21 Critic Reviews

I Am Legend is perhaps one of the greatest novels on vampirism that has been brought to the page. Perhaps only Bram Stoker’s story deserves more praise.
-Geeks of Doom

Synopsis

Robert Neville has witnessed the end of the world. The entire population has been obliterated by a vampire virus. Somehow, Neville survived. He must now struggle to make sense of everything that has happened and learn to protect himself against the vampires who hunt him constantly. He must, because perhaps there is nothing else human left.

I Am Legend was a major influence in horror and brought a whole new thematic concept to apocalyptic literature. Several humanistic and emotional themes in this book blend the horror genre with traditional fiction: we see Neville as an emotional person, and observe as he suffers bouts of depression, dips into alcoholism and picks up his strength again to fight the vampiric bacteria that has infected (and killed off) most of humankind. Neville soon meets a woman, Ruth, (after three years alone), who seems to be uninfected and a lone survivor. The two become close and he learns from Ruth that the infected have learned to fight the disease and can spend short amounts of time in the daylight, slowly rebuilding strength and society as it was.

The novel was adapted to film in 1964 as The Last Man on Earth, as Omega Man in 1971 and finally as I am Legend in 2007, starring Will Smith.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Richard Burton Matheson (born February 20, 1926) is an American author and screenwriter working primarily in the fantasy, horror, and science fiction genres. Between 1950 and 1971, Matheson produced dozens of stories, frequently combining elements from the different genres in which he works, making important contributions to the further development of modern horror. Matheson wrote fourteen episodes for the American television series The Twilight Zone, including the famous "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet." Notably, Steven Spielberg's first full length film (made for television) was based on the story “Duel,” for which Matheson also wrote the screenplay.

Matheson's first novel, Someone is Bleeding, was published in 1953. His thirty novels since then include The Shrinking Man (filmed as The Incredible Shrinking Man, again adapted from Matheson's own screenplay), and a science fiction/vampire novel, I Am Legend (made into film as The Last Man on Earth, 1964, The Omega Man, 1971, and
I Am Legend, 2007).

A new film based on Matheson's story “Steel,” entitled Real Steel, is a major motion picture that was released in October 2011. His most recent novel, Other Kingdoms, appeared in March 2011.

According to film critic Roger Ebert, Matheson's scientific approach to the supernatural in I Am Legend and other novels from the 1950s and '60s anticipated the "pseudorealistic fantasy novels like Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist." In 2010, Matheson was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, and Stephen King has cited Matheson as a creative influence; his novel Cell is dedicated to Matheson along with filmmaker George A. Romero. Author Anne Rice has said that Matheson's short story, "A Dress of White Silk" was a primary early influence on her interest in vampires and fantasy fiction.
 

About Richard Matheson

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Richard Matheson was The New York Times bestselling author of I Am Legend, Hell House, Somewhere in Time, The Incredible Shrinking Man, A Stir of Echoes, The Beardless Warriors, The Path, Seven Steps to Midnight, Now You See It…, and What Dreams May Come, among others. He was named a Grand Master of Horror by the World Horror Convention, and received the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement. He has also won the Edgar, the Spur, and the Writer's Guild awards. In 2010, he was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. In addition to his novels Matheson wrote several screenplays for movies and TV, including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” based on his short story, along with several other Twilight Zone episodes. He was born in New Jersey and raised in Brooklyn, and fought in the infantry in World War II. He earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. Matheson died in June, 2013, at the age of eighty-seven.
 
Published May 14, 2011 by RosettaBooks. 162 pages
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Horror, Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference, Children's Books, Comics & Graphic Novels. Fiction
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Critic reviews for I Am Legend
All: 21 | Positive: 18 | Negative: 3

The Bookbag

Excellent
Reviewed by Dave Martin on Jan 01 1999

At 176 pages I was amazed at how much detail there was to this book yet it leaves you crying out for more, which for me is the mark of a great novel.

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SF Site

Good
Reviewed by Lisa DuMond on Dec 23 2015

If ever a book was made to read in one sitting, this complex horror novel is it. Before you read yet another gothic vampire novel, read the story that's different.

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BellaOnline

Good
Reviewed by Laura Lehman on Dec 23 2015

Although I Am Legend is not your typical science fiction (or vampire) novel I would encourage everyone to read it. Looking beyond genre, this is an excellently written novel, one that reshaped the vampire myth.

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SFFWorld.com

Good
Reviewed by Mark Yon / Hobbit on Nov 14 2007

What is quite pleasing is that the book actually was one of the first to create a rationale for vampires that was not based on myth (though that obviously plays a part) but science...rereading it, more than half a century on from its original publication, its power is still shockingly undiminished.

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Geeks of Doom

Good
Reviewed by Ryan Midnight on Dec 10 2007

I Am Legend is perhaps one of the greatest novels on vampirism that has been brought to the page. Perhaps only Bram Stoker’s story deserves more praise.

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Fiction Reviews

Good
Reviewed by Jonathan Cowie on Jan 30 2013

Matheson has not only crafted a thoroughly gripping tale, he has sought to provide a science fictional rationale as to how the vampires came into being and for him being the sole survivor). This largely stands up even after half a century.

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Teen Ink

Below average
Reviewed by TheJust on Sep 29 2014

There have only been two books in my entire life that, when leaving my shelf, they found themselves in the garbage instead of the Goodwill pile: one of them was Daughters of Eve by Lois Duncan; and, let's just say, the only other book I felt no one else needed to read was I Am Legend by Richard Matheson.

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That's What She Read

Good
Reviewed by Michelle on Oct 23 2013

I Am Legend is a classic. It may be science fiction, but the story it has to tell about one man’s fight for survival in the face of hopeless odds is timeless.

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Brothers Judd

Above average
on Oct 04 2002

None of this turns Mr. Matheson's book into a great work--it's somewhat overwrought--but it does make it awfully fun to return to it from a fresh perspective.

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Inverarity is not a Scottish village

Good
on Sep 05 2010

Matheson's writing holds up well. He's both an author and screenwriter and knows how to deliver a story with plenty of descriptive details and no fluff.

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Leeswammes' Blog

Good
on Mar 18 2012

I loved reading this book and it was a real pity it’s so short! If you’ve enjoyed the movie: this is nothing like the book, so do read the book if you haven’t done so yet.

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SF Book Reviews

Excellent
Reviewed by Ant on Apr 03 2011

I am Legend is one of the best examples you will find that manages to encapsulate the meaning of loneliness and the resultant loss of self, simply incredible.

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Wondrous Reads

Good
Reviewed by Prophecygirl on Jul 10 2012

I hope this post might inspire someone to pick up and read I Am Legend, even if they've never heard of it before. It truly is a sci-fi classic, without a doubt one of the best out there.

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https://www.sfsite.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Lisa DuMond on Sep 29 2014

If ever a book was made to read in one sitting, this complex horror novel is it. Before you read yet another gothic vampire novel, read the story that's different. You may forget the details of the other books, but this one will stay with you. And get that grey matter working.

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InkSlinger Blog

Above average
Reviewed by THE INK SLINGER on May 11 2012

Do I recommend I Am Legend? Yes. It’s not particularly fun reading, but it is engaging and thought-provoking, and will give rise to plenty of interesting discussion.

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Opinions of a Wolf Blog

Above average
Reviewed by wolfshowl on May 19 2011

This reads as a great idea that was a bit poorly executed. Perhaps this is why it has inspired so much other creativity. The germ of the idea is excellent and easy to ponder upon in spite of a far less sophisticated story-telling.

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Blurb Hack

Good
Reviewed by Lorenzo Princi on Jul 01 2009

The book is scary, tragic and a far too cult for the amount of popular work it has inspired. One of the few other Vampire stories to hold up against Dracula because it borrows little from Bram Stalker's work but like it, has been much borrowed from.

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Nylon Admiral

Excellent
Reviewed by Kayleigh Murphy on Dec 31 2011

I Am Legend stuck with me for quite awhile after reading it, it kept swirling questions and thoughts around my head for days and days. Forget everything else, that is the sign of an unbelievable book.

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The Mountains of Instead

Good
Reviewed by THE MOUNTAINS OF INSTEAD on Oct 08 2012

So, save yourself the trouble of viewings and go straight for the source. I Am Legend is everything you could want from this kind of novel.

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SciFiMovieHype

Good
on Nov 27 2015

Hard sci-fi fans would find the most to appreciate as Neville tries to find a scientific explanation for vampirism in the book. It is tautly written and a decent read recommended for genre buffs.

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Phronk

Good
Reviewed by Phronk on Sep 10 2007

Part of its brilliance has to do with Matheson's writing, which gets right into the main character's head, and feels just detailed and realistic enough to relate to. There is also some ineffable eeriness to it.

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Michael Manley 19 Aug 2013

Rated the book as 5 out of 5

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