©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)
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!
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!
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.
I am brutally honest. Popular, love everything they read, reviewers are scared to go neg. and risk their ranking. It's your money!!!
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.
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 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..
I loved this book! I usually have a very hard time getting a new audiobook started. I am not that "into it" and will listen only a few days a week on my way home from work. But not in the mornings or after a hard day. This did not apply with this book! I was hooked from the start. It is eerie and compelling. I finished it in a few days.I even laid in bed listening to it! The movie was very loosely based on this book, so don't let that stop you. I found it cool it was written in the 1950s about the "future" in the 1970s. Wow! You will love it.
A quick listen, I got through the whole thing on a short road-trip. The narration suits the mood very well, the readers gruff voice bringing Neville to life and building the suspense of the story. I've never seen the movie (as some others have mentioned) but I've heard this original story has a much more interesting philosophical twist at the end and makes for a much darker and more interesting conclusion.
This is one of the best stories I have ever read. There are not many books that I return to over and over again, but this is one of them. Every time I listen to this book it gives me chills. It has the greatest ending of all time and is suspenseful, touching, scary and brilliant all at the same time!
"Superbly read and gripping story"
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. A passionately read, darkly written book which knocks the spots off the recent film which can only be described as a hollywood pastiche of a horror classic. Why didn't they just use the story in the book which is fantastic rather than do a 'contemporary adaptation'.
The book combines a gruesome picture of a world in decay with the character study of a man who travels to the edge of madness in adapting to his new world. An intelligent book which is a (or even the) classic of it's genre, not least because of the well-reasoned and fantastic ending.
All i can say is, i love this, made me wonder what i would do if i thought i was the only one left. Loved how he started studying to find out what could have caused it all. Fascinating.
This book has been on my last since the mid 00s and it hasn't disappointed. Much better than the film, which completely misses the message of the book.
Excellent narration too, really sold the feel of world and of his downward spiral into madness.
"Nothing like the film."
This book is nothing like the film but this isn't a bad thing, I think the story told in this audio book is much better then the films version of this book.
Decent pace through out.
"Gosh - what to say....."
Have had this in my wishlist for a while, and took advantage of an offer. I was expecting it to be different to the movie (which was my prompt to add it to wishlist). But boy is it very different! So - I loved the concept, especially knowing just how old this story is - more than 50 years. You could feel the loneliness and the horror - quite gripping. You really root for Robert Neville, and I practically cried when his first opportunity to find company didn't work out.
It was great storytelling as it made the listener uncomfortable - no complacency here. Whilst rooting for Neville, there were also aspects of his character which were unlikeable - perhaps a little due to its having been written in a different era. He spent a lot of time being angry - which felt true to the situation, but also a little over-played.
The whole novel has a sad and desperate inevitability - the closest I could get to how it made me feel was thinking back to one of my favourite novels..... "On The Beach" by Nevil Shute. Whilst a completely different storyline, there is a sadness and inevitability to that too, which leaves you quite worn out.
Very glad to have finally got around to listening to this, and suspect I will return to listen again in a while.
"Not like the movie, much better..."
I didn't realise this book was written in the 1950's. very scary..a top listen and a classic.
"Glad it's short"
I remember the film with Charlton Heston abs it sounds like the narrator is trying to mimic his voice almost. The story's ok but there's much better post apocalypse fiction out there now, with deeper, more believable characters. In that sense it shows its age as well, as it's about the standard of American 50's science fiction.
"A short sharp shock of a listen!"
This is an excellent story that is read with an enthusiasm and passion that I've rarely encountered in other audiobooks. It's just a shame that it's such a short story and even as an unabridged edition it only 5hr 20m long so it's very possible to listen to this in one sitting.
As other reviewers have mentioned, unlike the film there is no Hollywood happy-ever-after ending here.... ohhhhhh no. In fact it left me feeling quite bummed out.
If I have one criticism about the story some chapters get bogged down in the medical biology of the human body and how the vampiric plaque is affecting it. When the story is so short as it already is it just felt like unnecessary filler.
But anyways it's an excellent reading of a modern classic. This is well worth a token or if you are lucky you might catch it in one of Audible's occasional buy-one-get-one-free sales and get it completely free like I did.
"you saw the movie? look for something different."
the screen version was so much better. trying to relive the film does not work.
As a long time fan of the Book and subsequent Film adaptations of the story I was captivated by this readers effortless ability to portray the sublime Jekyll and Hyde nature of protagonist Robert Neville, the Man, the Monster and ultimately the Legend. Having listened to the Audiobook, I have a newer and stronger admiration the writer and this work. Legend in word and deed.
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