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I Am Legend: now a major motion picture starring Will Smith by Richard Matheson
"The last man on earth is not alone."
Robert Neville is legend. He is the only human left alive and unaffected by a bacteria he has called vampirus. He spends his many hours in daylight improving his home for vampire attacks and researching in the abandoned library about how vampires are possible through science, rather than mere superstition.
Well...at least these vampires aren't sparkling...although, I never really thought that vampires were supposed to be sluts either; but each to his own, I guess. Honestly, I found this story incredibly slow and boring. Nothing happens at a pace faster than Robert sitting alone in his house, alcoholic drink in hand, contemplating the life he left behind, the endless days restoring his vampire-proof house and researching his new bacteria. But if I must say something positive, I will say this: I Am Legend is quite intellectual. Many chapters upon chapters contain Robert's research and experiments as he attempts to find a cure for vampirus. And believe me, they will leave you with a headache. But, if you're able to make sense of his ramblings, most of it does make sense. Not that it's true, but it makes sense.
Now for my real thoughts on the story:
There are three types of books-turned-films:
1. (and the most common) The book is better than the film and Hollywood ruined your favorite story by adapting it to film. (i.e Left Behind: World at War based on Tribulation Force by Tim Lahaye and Jerry B. Jenkins)
2. (One in which the author is most-likely a screen-writer) The book and the movie are as similar as possible. (i.e Holes, Because of Winn-Dixie)
3. (and the least common) The movie is actually ten times better than the book, which is the category this book falls under.
Coming from a fan of the 2007 film adaption starring action hero, Will Smith, I found myself with high-expectations for a heart-pounding action story with attempted vampire attacks and battles. Unfortunately, instead of edge-of-your-seat action scenes, the entire story, straight up until the ending, is depressing with no light at the end of the tunnel. While at the end of the film, Robert finds his cure and dies a hero, in the book, all of Robert's research and experiments are laid to waste and he dies a coward, committing suicide instead of facing his judgment. Neither story is a happily-ever-after fairy tale, but one does find itself leaning towards uplifting while the other, after moments and moments and moments of depressing situations, leads to yet another depressing situation until the very last sentence.
"I am legend"--the final sentence in the book--I'm sure, Mr. Matheson meant to be uplifting, but I found it to be quite ironic. When most think of legends, they think of heroes who in some way changed the world, not a cowardly man who dies without a fight.
As for the collection of short stories following I Am Legend (I'm not sure if these appear in every version, but in the version sold in promotion of the film, several short stories were added), well, let's just say in all complete honesty, they sucked. Several stories ("Dance of the Dead", "From Shadowed Places" and I Am Legend itself) are over-sexualized:
-"Dance of the Dead" (in its futuristic lingo) hints at sex scenes throughout the story; "From Shadowed Places" has a sex (AKA "rescuing the stolen soul") scene so perverted and detailed it will make you blush in an empty room; and, well, I've already talked about the slutty vampires.-
And in the stories which were not over-sexed, they dealt heavily with the occult: demon-possession ("Prey", "Dress of White Silk", "Dance of the Dead", "Person to Person"), witchcraft ("Witch War") and some may even argue I Am Legend is playing into the occult, but with the subject of vampires being so broad as to whether they are portrayed as real or fantasy, the jury is still out on the subject of this story. (And just as a side note, any OCD English freaks like myself will find themselves with a twitch while reading "Dress of White Silk", which was supposedly written by a ten-year-old.)
Now, I can't hate on something entirely without saying what I liked. Stories such as "The Funeral", "Buried Talents", "The Near Departed" and "Mad House" left me wanting more and quite disappointed when only these four came up. While the ending left me slightly confused, "Buried Talents" was a humorous story which makes you laugh and almost imagine a carnival and its carnies running around, waiting for a chum to waste their money; "The Near Departed" left me laughing at the end at the obvious plot and yet one you wouldn't guess until the final line; and while "Mad House" is incredibly long, boring and confusing, the plot is unique and a winner, in my book.
I cannot say Mr. Matheson is without imagination. These many stories prove he's got plenty. "Person to Person" kept me hooked during the whole CIA and isolated scientist schpeal, until I discovered who was really making the calls.
So, for the overall summary of my review:
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.
And it also means, I most likely will not stop to look at another Richard Matheson book when one crosses my path. Sorry.
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