©1954, 1982 by Richard Matheson; (P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.
"One of the ten all-time best novels of vampirism." (Fangoria)
"The most clever and riveting vampire novel since Dracula." (Dean Koontz)
"I think the author who influenced me most as a writer was Richard Matheson. Books like I Am Legend were an inspiration to me." (Stephen King)
My taste differs from kid books to gory horror books.
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.
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!
The brilliance of this work has left me nearly without words. I listened to it in essentially one sitting, taking a brief break to cook dinner. A genre defining novella that can clearly be considered the Godparent of many *many* works.
Like all great works, it operates on two levels; one as a horror/sci-fi story, the other as a parable. Mathewson delivers stunningly on both levels. Dean is fantastic with his narration.
I wish audible had an extra star that one could activate for truly phenomenal books- this is the second one I would grant such a rating to.
Absolutely essential listen.
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!
Say something about yourself!
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!
I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^
Not your mamma's vampire story. Actually, if your mamma was reading in the mid-fifties, this actually might have actually been your mamma's vampire story. Matheson was writing Stephen King novels when Stephen King was a just a wee Maine boy dreaming of them. This is annteresting, zombi-pocalyptic/vampire robinsonade. Not brilliant, flawed in parts, but still a very very good first novel.
I would say it was well-spent. It's a good story with a fine performance by Dean.
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.
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.
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.
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. ;-)
I enjoy post-apocalyptic stories, however this one was a great disappointment. Perhaps it was because I had just finished The Road, but I don't think so; this story is extremely dated and creaky. The reader did the best he could with the material, but I gave up after about 2 hours.
This is one of those rare occasions, where the movie is better than the book. I was quite bored with this book many times. I think this book would have greatly benefited from a companion for the main character throughout the entire story. This book was all about the main character's madness/loneliness and he just came off creepy and weird. Not likeable at all. I have read this book and listened to the audio. I thought the book was ok when I read it, and I think the narrator's portrayal did not help. .
I bought Matheson's masterpiece as a young teenager in the early 60s, on a family vacation trip.. sat on a deserted beach, alone, and read it cover-to-cover.. been waiting for an audio version for eons.. and grabbed Audible's the other day.. the narration is FANtastic, and of course, 100% true to the book, unlike the three filmed versions.. the 50s low-budget Vincent Price film, "The Last Man on Earth" is probably the truest to the book.. the 70s "Omega Man" with Charlton Heston is a joke.. the 2007 correctly-titled Will Smith version isn't bad, but so far from Matheson's original work as to almost be an entirely different character and story, especially the ending.. but I suppose the producers giving it the usual Hollywood mega-million $ CGI-laden, "blowin' up a lot of stuff" treatment for contemporary movie audiences with the attention span of a gnat was not unexpected.. but transmogrifying Robert Neville from a suburan El Lay everyman trying to do his best to maintain his sanity and survive alone in an insane world, to a high-ranking military Doctor in NYC made NO sense to me at all.. the newest film removed the whole ambience of the book, radically changed / ripped out / added characters.. it's just not Matheson's original.. so this novella still has never been properly filmed to stay true to the book, and probably never will be..
As a five hour plus audio book, I found it very tough to pause / bookmark and come back to it later.. I wanted to listen to it all the way through.. it did not disappoint except in one small (?) aspect.. had I produced it, I would have used a female narrator to read Ruth's lines..
"Not another zombie book!"
What a surprise, so many zombie, vampire, living dead . . . . books, very large yawn. This was a book the of the day deal with good reviews so thought that I would give it a try. So pleased I did, I really enjoyed it. Well written, good storyline, well read. A thoughtful intelligent book prompting me to change my own rules and award five stars - a very very rare event. Now looking for more books by this author/narrator . Thank you both
A well deserved classic with a corker of ending that will leave you astounded as to why the Film adaptations over the years have messed with it.
Narration was good, had to drop playback speed to 1.5.
"Tense and powerful listen"
This audio book is awesome. I love how it shows the listener how Robert is losing his mind from being on his own. I suppose it allows you feel what he feels.
The broken watch. Brilliantly tense moment.
The broken mind of the lonely Robert Neville, how his voice changes as Roberts mind goes from one part of his personality to another.
"Much better than the film"
Ignore the film
The last line in the book, that sounds bad but I mean it truthfully more for the build up then anything it has a climatic moment that brings the whole book into perspective, once again a book adapted into a film has lots it's charm, story and feeling how can it be so hard to make a film loyal to this book
The performance did the content justice in a way that made it really enjoyable and engaging
I wish I could have but I don't often get the chance to listen to a book all in one go,
"Very different from the movie"
I was not a big fan of the movie but had heard this was a good read so decided to give it a go. This is deffo not the genre of book I would normally read-not really into vampire etc so fully expected to not really like it but was very pleasantly surprised. The reader was very good. The story has little resemblance to the film-in a good way-don't know why they decided to change it so much. A really interesting listen which kept me hooked from start to finish. I was very surprised to see it was written in the 50s as it has a much more modern feel. A real classic. Enjoy.
"I almost couldn't finish listening to this book"
The narrators voice is really really really irritating. He tried to make it dramatic and maybe if his voice wasn't horrible it would have worked, but it was so it didn't.
The story itself is great, but for a change not as good as the film, still worth a listen though if you can get over the narrators voice
"A strange and warming paranoid schizoid tale"
Different to the film
It grows on you
Wasn't sure about it at first but enjoyed it and some years later came back and listened to it again with, surprisingly, better results, hence the review. I would say its a mood dependent kinda story but worth having in your library and written by a master of the genre.
Defiantly no Will Smith
"It was a bit of a fight to get through this one."
This is a gripping and well told story but is unremittingly bleak. The book starts with the hero, Robert Neville, already well into the events that have unfolded after a vampire plague has taken over the world. The characterization is very good but I found it hard to empathize with the hero because you only get brief glimpses at what he was like before these catastrophic events turned him into the half crazed and hardened person, which he is at the start of the book. My main problem with the plot is that it had so few glimmers of hope in it, this made the story somewhat predictable and hard work to listen to.If on the other hand you like your fiction dark, this would be a great novel for you.
The narrator did a brilliant job at projecting the thoughts of a man falling apart to the listener. He has a pleasant voice to listen to and is great at conveying the tension of the story.
Overall I'm glad I bought this book but it's not one I'll come back too again and again, like many of the others in my library.
"Don't expect Will Smith."
Firstly this was nothing like the Will Smith film. The only thing they have in common is the title and the name of the leading character. I quite liked the film and the book is just as good if not better.
Really liked the ending too, won't spoil it for anyone but like I said bears no resemblance to the film.
It was, it's not too long as well. Unfortunately I don't have the time to listen to it in one sitting.
Modern classic, download it you won't be disappointed.
"Nothing like the movie, in a good way"
I remained engaged throughout. Impressive for a story largely comprising of one character.
I definitely needed a break at times as it was really quite depressing, although it was intended to be.
This book highlights the darker side of long term isolation, and questions one-sided moral decisions.
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