Tuesday, June 19, 2007
I Am Legend
Sunday, I saw previews for the forthcoming Will Smith movie, I Am Legend. I recognized the title, so I picked up Richard Matheson's book, copyright 1954. Despite a few details in the book that might not be familiar to many of today's readers, such as the reference to Edgar Guest, it's still a powerful book. It did seem strange that civilization as we know it came to an end in 1975, the year I graduated from high school.
I Am Legend starts in 1976, when Robert Neville has lost his wife and daughter to a plague. The plague hit the world after a war. Following the war, the earth was hit with dust storms, mosquitoes, flies. People became sick, and, before he knew it, Neville was the only person still living. The only PERSON still living. He was surrounded by vampires who had taken over the bodies of people he knew. Neville barricades himself inside his house, uses a generator, and leaves occasionally to find gas and supplies.
At times, he finds reasons to build up hope that he can defeat the vampires, find someone else alive, successfully survive. Despite his situation, he fights on, killing vampires and burning bodies. I Am Legend is a suspenseful story of one man's day-to-day survival against terrible odds.
It's a short, powerful book. I'll probably never see the movie, but I'm glad I read the book.
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. Nelson Doubleday, Inc., ©1954, 151p.