Book Reviews

Book Review : I am Legend by Richard Matheson

Curious what I think about I am Legend by Richard Matheson? Be curious no longer! All you need to do is simply continue reading.

When began reading this book I can’t really say I enjoyed it. As I continued reading the book, I can’t really say I started enjoying. Not until I got about 70% of the way through the book did I actually begin finding the book enjoyable.  I came across a few continuity issues that irked me and really, I just did not like the character of Robert Neville very much.

The TL;DR:

The book is quite different from the movie and has its moments. In some ways good, in other ways bad. The reader in me that loves character growth and progression was quite disappointed. Overall I found the character of Robert Neville to be incredibly flat and found that he contradicted himself on several occasions. I’ve had a few friends tell me I’m batty and that the book was great, but hey, I like what like, and I didn’t like this.

Overall, I honestly would not recommend this book.

The Bad (facts)

1. Neville contradicts himself very frequently and I can’t stand that. At the very beginning of the book (as in page 1) we establish that he is hung up on telling what time of day it is by the position of the sun in the sky, and not a watch. Because of this he never wanders far from his house on a cloudy day. A few chapters later Neville finds himself outside near dusk because he forgot to wind his watch on a cloudy day. In the case of literature, double negatives do not result in a positive. (I suppose I could let this one slide due to the overall situation his character is in, but I have a really hard doing so because I flat out do not like Robert Neville for the first 2/3rds of the book).

Another example would be the fact that the book clearly states that wooden stakes are the only kind of stakes that will successfully kill a vampire, metal stakes don’t work. At the start of the book we are unsure why, but by the end of the book we know why.  And once we know why, it becomes pretty clear that metal stakes WOULD work.

2. Nevilles character does not change, grow, or learn for the first 2/3rd’s of the book. Literally for 70% of the book his character subsists on two major characteristics. One he is horribly depressed and struggles with feelings of inadequacy and loneliness. Two he is a raging alcoholic. That’s his character for majority of the book. His day to day life is filled self hate and drinking. I understand the guy is going through some tough stuff, but for a character to experience zero growth or change for the majority  of a book is pretty much unforgivable to me.

The Bad (Opinions)

1. I just really truly deeply do not like Robert Neville as a character.

2. When he explains why bullets don’t have any real effects on vampires my bs alarm went off. I won’t go into details, but with the things he reveals later in the book, shooting a vampire with a shotgun at close range, or in the head at pretty much any range would result in vampiric death.

The Good

1. After about 70% of the book Neville actually experiences some change, and his character actually becomes interesting and dynamic. We see him struggle with trust, with love, with companionship. We see him struggle with something that isn’t a whiskey bottle or his own self loathing and it is astoundingly refreshing as well as engaging.

2. The story is believable. I don’t mean that in the sense that this could happen (which I really suppose it could) but I mean it more so in the sense that nothing so insanely outrageous occurs that I have to suspend all belief to get through it. Think of it as the difference between a movie being believable and a documentary being realistic.

3. The ending, no spoilers obviously. But the last line of the book is pretty clever.

The Meh :

1. The whole book to me was pretty meh. I really did enjoy the last third of it, but the first chunk of it really killed it for me.

Story Synopsis :

Throughout this story we Follow Robert Neville and his struggles with solitude and his inner demons. Robert is what he believes to be the only living man left on the face of the Earth after a horrible plague destroys the world’s population, turning them all into ravenous vampiric beasts. He spends a great deal of time hating himself for various failings and being generally depressed. After kicking his depression and alcohol issues he dedicates himself to understanding the plague and why it behaves in the way it does. Then everything in Robert’s life changes when he finds another human alive, but are the changes good or bad?

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