Like a lot of reviewers, I saw the movie before I ever heard of the book. In fact, I decided to read the book because I was hoping for some clarification about some concepts and ideas that the movie hinted at but didn't explain.
Rather than reading it, I bought it on Audible and let somebody else read it to me. From the start I knew this book was not going to be the movie. Neville was definitely not the same man in the book that Will Smith portrayed in the movie. A lot of the questions raised by the movie were not answered, though many others were.
I liked that Neville wasn't some super-hero action star in the book. He was a normal guy just trying to survive in a world that didn't want or need him anymore. He was intelligent and given to learning, but he was also very dark, depressed and lonely. I pictured a Steve Buscemi in the book far more than a Will Smith.
Rather than saying if you liked the movie you won't like the book, I'd rather say that if you liked the movie, you may also like the book, just don't expect it to be the same story. The movie is only very loosely based on the book.
One more thing, when I saw the movie I thought "wow, the infected people are kind of vampiric", but they never used the word vampire, rather calling them "dark-seekers". The book was very prolific in the use of the word vampire, and I loved the history of vampirism as explained in the book much much more than the reasons given (well, sort of given) in the movie.
Summary: Great fiction, great character development. Sometimes melodramatic narration (to be expected in an audio-only reading). Got a little long-winded and obscure during some of the exposition around the disease, and yet still intriguing to the curious mind. Over all, I enjoyed it and would recommend it to anybody who can handle the darkness of a post-apocalyptic world where the protagonist is not an action-hero superstar!
147 of 158 people found this review helpful
THE HABIT OF LIVING
Written in 1954, this book stands the test of time. Course if written today, the vampires would be Zombies. At least two movies have been made of this, but neither followed the book totally. The movies are good and the book is good. While this is a Horror, it is also Science Fiction. The book is entertaining and thought provoking. I highly recommend it. The narrator is excellent.
102 of 111 people found this review helpful
Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?
I would say it was well-spent. It's a good story with a fine performance by Dean.
How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?
The middle portion of the book drags on for too long. It doesn't take long to establish what is happening to Robert Neville. I was ready for the final two acts long before they arrived.
What does Robertson Dean bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Dean brings the proper intensity. 95% of the story takes place in Robert Neville's head. Dean gives not so much a recitation as a one-man performance.
Could you see I Am Legend being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?
The book has been filmed three times: with Vincent Price, with Charlton Heston and with Will Smith. I haven't seen the Heston version in years, but the Price version is extremely faithful to the book. The Smith version undoubtedly the least so. If a truly faithful version were to be made again, the actor playing Neville would have to be riveting. Tom Hanks has already done something similar in "Cast Away". Bradley Cooper could probably pull it off, or Christian Bale. Hugh Jackman could've done it maybe 15 years ago.
Any additional comments?
I see Neville's story as a metaphor for what has happened to America in world (and to some extent, domestic) opinion. I can't explain what I mean without giving away the ending, so you'll just have to listen for yourself. ;-)
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
This is really a fantastic book. None of the movies based on it really do it justice. This is a very intimate telling of one man's experience with the end of civilization as he knows it. Movie adaptations always have to add more action or add new elements. What makes this novel so remarkable and memorable, however, is just how intimate the story telling is and how much I find myself caring about Robert Neville's character.
It's particularly remarkable to me how well this story holds up considering it was written in 1954. It is written in such a way as to have very, very few aspects that date the story. It is just as easy to visualize the story as happening today as I believe it would have been 50 or 60 years ago.
It is, in my opinion, a very intelligent and smartly written book and I'd recommend it wholeheartedly. The narrator is a perfect match for the material as well! I'd give it more stars if I could!
72 of 89 people found this review helpful
I enjoyed every aspect of this brief, well produced audible version of I Am Legend, (and especially recommend if you can pick it up when Audible has one of its special offers). Dean's narration made the listen as animated as a Columbia Broadcasting System radio presentation ala Orson Wells doing H.G. Well's War of the Worlds.
Bless Matheson for bringing us the concept of a vampire apocalypse! Because of his imagination and talent, so many of Matheson's books and stories were translated to movies and TV. Loved, loved, reading the reviews and opinions about the book vs. the multiple movie versions of I Am Legend. Either I am not so opinionated, or just easily entertained, because I thought all the book to movie interpretations were great fun ... from the Vincent Price version (which embarrassed author/screenwriter Matheson resulting in him using a pseudo-name in the end credits aka *Logan Swanson*); especially the very campy Omega Man, the vampires replaced with the *Family* of albino mutants [so bad it was good]; and finally to Will Smith's intellectualized NY version with the *Darkseekers*. As fun or as creepy, none of those versions equal the book and it's emphasis on the psychological impact of being alone.
Why read this book when we know the story almost ad nauseam - in hundreds of incarnations? Because 'MATHESON is legend'. Give a quick look at his Wiki profile.... The Legend of Hell House, What Dreams May Come, Somewhere in Time, A Stir of Echoes, I Am Legend, Steel, Duel (yes directed by Spielberg), The Night Stalker, Twilight Zone episodes (including intro and closing every show), Star Trek episodes. If you are still unconvinced of his genius - remember the Zuni fetish doll that chased Karen Black around her NY apartment with a carving knife?....Matheson's creation! And the piece de resistance....Nightmare at 20,000 Feet -- William Shatner looking out the window from his airline seat at a gremlin tearing the steel and wire cables from a rear jet engine. I think I'd rather see vampires at my door.
It's not so much an issue of *holding up to time* as to how many times it has been done; but read with the knowledge that this was the first...wow. What a legacy--what a legend!
42 of 58 people found this review helpful
Richard Matherson's I Am Legend is a classic from the 1950's that reads almost as well today as it did when originally released. Only one man appears to have survived a plague that turns humans into vampire-like creatures, only coming out at night, seeking him out. Without any superhuman abilities, he manages to organize himself for survival as well as some rudimentary investigation into the cause.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the sci-fi elements is that in the 1950's, the widespread introduction of antibiotics into medical practice hinted at the possibility of conquering all bacterial infections. And so Materson postulated a bacterial infection that was incurable with a spore phase for efficient spread. His suggestion of Darwinian evolution driving humanity's extinction, only to be replaced by something else is somewhat unique for the time. Although contemporary writings would insert zombies instead of vampires, the various scientific explanations for vampiric behaviors is noteworthy.
The narration is quite well done and expertly shifts in sync with the nearly bipolar attitude displayed throughout. Pacing is on target, making for a quick listen.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful