I Am Legend, Richard Matheson; 1954
A friend agreed to read Station Eleven on my recommendation if I read I Am Legend in exchange. Otherwise, I probably never would have approached this one, if only because of lingering trauma from the dog in the Will Smith movie version. This is probably not news to anyone else, but Richard Matheson’s book is completely different from the blockbuster. So if the movie was holding you back, feel safe enough to proceed to reading the book.
It’s 1976 and Robert Neville is the last living man on earth. But he’s not completely alone. A vampire plague has destroyed civilization, and at night every other remaining human terrorizes Neville while he barricades himself in his home; by day, he hunts the living dead one by one. It’s less a book about vampires, and more about loneliness and survival. It’s also a kind of grim character study: there is only Robert. The language is simple and to the point, no frills. The last page gave me chills. Best of all, this book is super short – 160 pages – which was the most wonderful breath of fresh air after finishing City on Fire last week.
It reminded me so much of ‘Salem’s Lot, which I read earlier this year, that I went back and poked around. Stephen King cites Richard Matheson as one of his greatest influences as a writer, so all of that makes sense. I love seeing firsthand how books influence one another. I Am Legend wasn’t as terrifying as ‘Salem’s Lot in my opinion, but it was definitely haunting and very grim.
I realized that I’ve unintentionally read a lot of sci-fi in the last six months, and I’ve enjoyed all of them (well, with the exception of Congo). I think I might embrace this sci-fi trend and explore the genre a little further. But first, off to embark on Fates and Furies – FINALLY!