I Am Legend

I Am Legend

by Richard Matheson

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Overview

Robert Neville has witnessed the end of the world. The entire population has been obliterated by a vampire virus. Somehow, Neville survived. He must now struggle to make sense of everything that has happened and learn to protect himself against the vampires who hunt him constantly. He must, because perhaps there is nothing else human left.

I Am Legend was a major influence in horror and brought a whole new thematic concept to apocalyptic literature. Several humanistic and emotional themes in this book blend the horror genre with traditional fiction: we see Neville as an emotional person, and observe as he suffers bouts of depression, dips into alcoholism and picks up his strength again to fight the vampiric bacteria that has infected (and killed off) most of humankind. Neville soon meets a woman, Ruth, (after three years alone), who seems to be uninfected and a lone survivor. The two become close and he learns from Ruth that the infected have learned to fight the disease and can spend short amounts of time in the daylight, slowly rebuilding strength and society as it was.

The novel was adapted to film in 1964 as The Last Man on Earth, as Omega Man in 1971 and finally as I am Legend in 2007, starring Will Smith.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Richard Burton Matheson (born February 20, 1926) is an American author and screenwriter working primarily in the fantasy, horror, and science fiction genres. Between 1950 and 1971, Matheson produced dozens of stories, frequently combining elements from the different genres in which he works, making important contributions to the further development of modern horror. Matheson wrote fourteen episodes for the American television series The Twilight Zone, including the famous "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet." Notably, Steven Spielberg's first full length film (made for television) was based on the story "Duel," for which Matheson also wrote the screenplay.

Matheson's first novel, Someone is Bleeding, was published in 1953. His thirty novels since then include The Shrinking Man (filmed as The Incredible Shrinking Man, again adapted from Matheson's own screenplay), and a science fiction/vampire novel, I Am Legend (made into film as The Last Man on Earth, 1964, The Omega Man, 1971, and
I Am Legend, 2007).

A new film based on Matheson's story "Steel," entitled Real Steel, is a major motion picture that was released in October 2011. His most recent novel, Other Kingdoms, appeared in March 2011.

According to film critic Roger Ebert, Matheson's scientific approach to the supernatural in I Am Legend and other novels from the 1950s and '60s anticipated the "pseudorealistic fantasy novels like Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist." In 2010, Matheson was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, and Stephen King has cited Matheson as a creative influence; his novel Cell is dedicated to Matheson along with filmmaker George A. Romero. Author Anne Rice has said that Matheson's short story, "A Dress of White Silk" was a primary early influence on her interest in vampires and fantasy fiction.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940013918184
Publisher: RosettaBooks
Publication date: 05/15/2011
Series: RosettaBooks into Film , #1
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 45,365
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Richard Burton Matheson (born February 20, 1926) is an American author and screenwriter working primarily in the fantasy, horror, and science fiction genres. Between 1950 and 1971, Matheson produced dozens of stories, frequently combining elements from the different genres in which he works, making important contributions to the further development of modern horror. Matheson wrote fourteen episodes for the American television series The Twilight Zone, including the famous "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet." Notably, Steven Spielberg's first full length film (made for television) was based on the story "Duel," for which Matheson also wrote the screenplay.

Matheson's first novel, Someone is Bleeding, was published in 1953. His thirty novels since then include The Shrinking Man (filmed as The Incredible Shrinking Man, again adapted from Matheson's own screenplay), and a science fiction/vampire novel, I Am Legend (made into film as The Last Man on Earth, 1964, The Omega Man, 1971, and I Am Legend, 2007).

A new film based on Matheson's story "Steel," entitled Real Steel, is a major motion picture that was released in October 2011. His most recent novel, Other Kingdoms, appeared in March 2011.

According to film critic Roger Ebert, Matheson's scientific approach to the supernatural in I Am Legend and other novels from the 1950s and '60s anticipated the "pseudorealistic fantasy novels like Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist." In 2010, Matheson was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, and Stephen King has cited Matheson as a creative influence; his novel Cell is dedicated to Matheson along with filmmaker George A. Romero. Author Anne Rice has said that Matheson's short story, "A Dress of White Silk" was a primary early influence on her interest in vampires and fantasy fiction.

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I Am Legend (and Other Stories) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 438 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After seeing the movie, I wanted to know more, so I picked up the book. I discovered this is actually a short story & was totally different than the movie.
Like a lot of books, the story starts out in the present. However, Matheson did not delve into the past's details & when he did, it wasn't quite the chronology I was expecting, which sets this novel apart. Also, I think Matheson portrayed the main character wonderfully! I love that he was so rough & flawed, but this also made the character more real to me. I also enjoyed the sporadic dialogue the main character had with HIMSELF. The dialogue kept the book from being monotonous. Thought-provoking read with enough emotional & scientific-based depth to keep me interested. Not a disappointment.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1976, the pandemic plague devastated the earth. Most people died while those who survived were biologically altered into nocturnal blood drinking in-humans. That is everyone except for one remaining purebred Robert Neville never changed as he apparently was immune to the plague. He is the last surviving Homo sapiens, but the converted see him as being different as the monster tied to the dead legendary past who must die. He endures his ordeal through alcohol, but his loneliness is driving him insane as each night he considers giving up until he meets his first non vampire friend since the disease, a dog fearful of him.-------------- This book actually contains a reprint of the 1954 classic novella I AM LEGEND in conjunction with an upcoming movie (note that Vincent Price starred in the 1960s film The Last Man on Earth based on this tale) and ten short stories that are entertaining and well written, but feel like padding to almost double the size of the book. Readers will understand why some of the great horror writers like Stephen King consider this novella one of the best ever as it crosses science fiction with horror yet holds up well because the bottom line is this is a character study of the human need for companionship as well as a Frankenstein like question as to just who is the monster?------------- Harriet Klausner
Vivian_Metzger More than 1 year ago
There were some things I really loved about I Am Legend. First, it is number one on my list for most scientific books about vampires I have ever read. I was surprised to see the book was very different from the Will Smith movie, but I loved this version too. The thing I liked most about the novel (especially compared to the movie) was the ending. The events of the ending portion of I Am Legend really came out of left field for me. I wasn't expecting what happened, at all. It is very much the most important part of the novel. It leaves us with a message, questioning what we have known and what we believe. I thought it was poignant and powerful, and it certainly left me thinking. A superb book, filled with such powerful emotions when pondering the existence of humans. Yes, this book is Legend.
steelyshan More than 1 year ago
As an avid horror fan and zombie junkie, I totally loved this book. I was at first disappointed by the fact that it was really nothing like the Will Smith movie that was TOTALLY AWESOME! This book is just as great and has a deep insight into the human psyche and what truley being alone could do to it. There was a little bit of everything in this book and at times I found myself terrified, laughing, and even shedding a tear. I highly recommend this book to horror/zombie fans and anyone who likes a good psychological journey as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A lone survivor by the name of Robert Neville lives in present day New York, New York. As Robert Neville survives by himself in New York for the last couple of years. He is trying to find a cure for a plague that had killed everyone and turned them into almost vampire creatures. Every single day is a struggle as he tries to survive against these creatures. As the book goes on his life becomes more and more uncontrollable and he himself starts losing his mind. There are many books for people who enjoy action. Some which include some of Stephen Kings writings and many others. My favorite character out of the book would probably be the main character Robert Neville only because everything he goes through in the whole book. Secondly he thinks everything out throughout all of his research and just thinking about it. So as Robert goes on everyday and struggles through his life and as you read on you will find out what happens to Robert himself. So I challenge you to go to your local library or get the book online and read his life. Read his legend. I would recommend this book to others who love and enjoy action.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best vampire novels. One of the best apocalyptic stories. One of the best horror/sci-fi writers ever. He is Legend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First off, I am Legend the movie is my favorite movie. I waited four years to read the book, and am pleasantly surprised. Matheson obviously put a lot of research and thought into this novel, and it shows. If you liked the movie, you need to read the story as well! They are very different though, like most movies and books of the same title.
Adams1369 More than 1 year ago
So much better than the movie. Hollywood just can't do anything justice anymore.
modestindecisiv More than 1 year ago
I first watched the movie, I am Legend with Will Smith. After reading the book, I am now disappointed in the movie. For those who liked the movie, I will warn that the book is much different...but for the better. I enjoyed the little twist at the end of the book. I found I am Legend to be thrilling, frightening, and nicely written. I found it amusing at times, frightening at times, and intelligently written. Richard Matheson is a famous horror story writer and his stories are great. The main character is easy to relate to and the ending is perfect. I recommend this book to people who love horror books and those who enjoyed watching the movie. Warning: if you liked the movie before and read this, you might be disappointed int he movie afterward (I was). It's an easy read and entertaining. There are also a few short stories in the back of this edition. Some I really liked and other were okay. This book will be in my permanent library.
Anonymous 7 months ago
A good read. Writing flows like I like it. Not to heady. Was wishing it was longer. Would recommend.
edcsdc More than 1 year ago
4.5 stars. I liked this better than the movie. That being said, the book and the movie are so far removed from one another I don't even consider them the same story. It was interesting to see inside the mind of Robert Neville and all that he lives through, physically and mentally. The ending left him better off than I expected.
lmonch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Interesting and disturbing. Audio.
blockbuster1994 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Richard Matheson had me from the opening paragraph. Creating a novel with only one main character, Robert Neville, who, alone all the time, simply trying to survive, is no easy feat. But there were the select vampires appearing on a daily basis at Neville's house calling for him to come out, as well as the "living dead" hybrids that eventually dominated the fallen society. I enjoyed the frankness of the story when it regressed to the time when Neville's wife and daughter still alive and struggling to live as the plague gained momentum. I also loved the dog that briefly shared Neville's world. And even though I don't appreciate music, I could feel what it meant to NevilleIt was too soon for me when the novel ended abruptly, although it was the perfect ending. I kind of thought that I will continue in this journey with Neville--although the atmosphere was bleak and dark, there still remained hope. I still miss Neville two days after finishing the story.
pjackson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I Am Legend is a thrilling tale of true horror. That horror is the possibility that you are the only person left in the world. This tests your sanity and your mental discipline. Robert Neville found himself in this very situation after a plague sweeps the world, turning people into a vampire/zombie like creature. He was immune due to circumstances he was not to sure about. He is faced with this question, why should I live. For the majority of the novel we see his struggle to keep his sanity and cope with the loss of his family and world. Matheson does an excellent job of constructing a very intense book. Yet still having the ability to slow down and build the characters of the novel. The book at times had my heart racing, the pacing is that well done. At one point in the novel Neville finds himself out after dark and has to get home. A life or death situation commences and he franticly has to think on his feet and find a way to get all the vampires away from his house. He cunningly tricks the vampires and barely escapes with his life. Moments like this really get you going and wanting to find out what happens next. But besides the action portions of the book there is a plot all of its own. His sanity and how he comes to terms with it is at times the most threatening presence to his life. He experiences depression on many occasions and was an alcoholic of sorts for some time. He was on the verge of throwing himself to the vampires at one point. All these caused by the loss of his family and world. While your reading the novel you are lead to feel very sorry for him. You wish you could reach into the book and help him. But he does find hope. As he comes to grips with his situation he starts to think more methodically. He sets out on a journey to find the cause and cure of the disease. He dives deeper and deeper into the whole of knowledge to find the answers. This is what kept him alive and sane. You see what he has to go through each day and how difficulty it is. This only adds to his character. I would recommend this novel 100%. The story, characters, plot and ending are all top notch. If you like sci-fi, vampires, zombies, or just horror in general you will love this book. It is easily one of the best vampire stories since Dracula.
kainlane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I listened to this book not having watched the movie, and boy am I glad I did. This book is a phenomenal view into the loneliness of the last survivor of humanity. A massive plague has hit the world (or at least southern California) taking not only Robert Neville's wife and child, but the rest of the world. He holes himself up in his house, protecting it from the vampires with garlic, crosses, and planks over the windows. He only goes out in the day, and even then only when there is no cloud cover, so that he can be home in time for dark, when the vampires attack his house. He eventually gets extreme cabin fever, driving him to drink and going mad. He tries to cope by looking into the cause of the disease when he really just wants some kind of companionship. He at one point obsesses over trying to catch a surviving, though feral, dog. I really felt sorry for Robert Neville. I don't want to give away any more of the plot, though that is really secondary to this character driven story.It's rather short, only 5 1/2 hours in the audio version, which is probably a good thing. The voice actor is exceptional, with a small variety of character voices and really acts out the scenes. I highly recommend the audio version, but I am also going to have to read the novel myself as well. The only reason this isn't a full five stars is that some of the dialogue could have been improved, though not by much. I really enjoyed this book and will definitely be reading it again many times in the future.
belinda175 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I just got around to reading this book and it was excellent. I'm especially glad that I didn't watch the movie.
Magus_Manders on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I first picked up this volume at a school book sale somewhere in Jr. high school, about 6 or 7 years ago. I remember being very engrossed in it, but somehow put it down very close to the end and never picking it back up, but always remembered that I loved it. Well, with the new movie coming out, I wanted to give it another go, more for my own verification than anything, though I see they've done a bit of revisionism even from the trailers. This is clearly a work of the 1950's sci-fi/horror era (1954, actually) just in the tone and wording that defines many authors of the time. On occasions, it's not difficult to see why these genres were once looked down upon, for there are times when it seems that Matheson neglected to proofread, on account of some awkward sentences and word repetition. He also uses one of the big tropes of the Cold War era, rather subtly and tastefully I might add, though I won't get into that. The novel weighs in at just under 160 pages, but each one of those pages is filled and metered out to the point that you will not put it down (I think mine has a couple of food and toothpaste stains, and that's just from this morning). We follow Robert Neville through every stage of his emotional journey being a survivor on a planetary scale. Matheson really captures the hopelessness, the emptiness, and the monotony of being alone and the ways that one copes. At times it can get rather maudlin, but he doesn't dwell on it too much (a lesson Anne Rice could stand to learn). I don't know how the new film handles it, but the ending of this book (and the 1968 Vincent Price adaptation The Last Man on Earth which I heartily recommend) will kick you in the teeth... in the best possible way of course.The second half of this particular volume features about half-a-dozen of Matheson's short stories, which I fear I haven't gotten into yet. However, if they're anything like this seminal novel, they are surely edge-of-your-seat spine-tingglers, if you pardon the cliche.
worldsedge on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It had been years since I last read this work, and I'm surprised how well it has held up. Very entertaining, whether as a work of horror or of science fiction. Robert Neville flat out works as a man alone surrounded by Matheson's variant of vampires. The vampire novels of today are garbage by comparison.Robert Neville, Ben Cortman, Ruth, so few named characters, yet it worked so well.
soulbyte on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the film, but tonnes of people banged on about how it wasn't like the book blah blah, so obviously had to read it. Great book, totally different to the film, the end was more in line with the title, and it was pretty creepy. Robert Neville is more the anti-hero in the book, and there are times when you want to shout at him to stop being so pathetic - which is of course just the time he does stop. The 'vampires' in the book are much more human, they have character and are not as one dimensional as those in the film - especially Ben Cortman! I felt like the end was a little sudden, and much more could have been done - it made sense, but didn't ring true. If anyone else has views on the very end, please let me know.
thekoolaidmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Stephen King said "I Am Legend" was one of the books that inspired him, and you can see that when you read this book. I happened to be reading "Skeleton Crew" at the same time as this book, which gave me a unique opportunity to compare. I thought this book was much better than S.C., though, because most of the stories in "Legend" can stand alone. I loved this book. I did not know it was a collection of short stories, though. I had seen the movie and loved it, then found out that it had been inspired by the Richard Matheson book. The two stories, book and movie, are as different as grass and concrete. The only similarities are: They have the same title, Robert Neville is the name of the main character, both stories are set in a post-global disaster America, and both end with the sentence, "I am legend." The movie was about Neville the scientist, staying behind because of duty and trying to find a cure of the genetic mutation causing people to be "darkstalkers." In the book, Neville is the lone survivor because of freak luck, and studies the bacteria he names vampiris mostly to learn how better to kill the vampiric survivors. Occasionally he tosses around the idea of "finding a cure," but he doesn't really care.Of the remaining short stories, The Near Departed, a short funny, Prey, a fetish doll with a trapped spirit of a hunter tries to kill the owner, Dress of White Silk, supernatural tale of a little girl obsessively loves her dead mother and defends her honor, The Funeral, shocking, supernatural, and funny story of literary monsters (i.e. Ygor, Count Dracula, a werewolf, a witch) visit a local funeral home for a "proper" send-off, and From Shadowed Places, a man dying from a curse of an african witch doctor he offended and the woman who cures him, are all great.A second story from this book was also made into a movie. Much lesser known than Legend, and starring Robert Englund, aka Freddy Kruger, the story Dance of the Dead is a post-apocolyptic world with "survivors" from germ warfare, called loopies which is slang for L.U.P.s, Lifeless Undead Phenomenon... zombies, in effect. The story is of four friends going to a club where a loopy is presented as "dancing" to music. It's creepy, and it's unclear what happens at the end.Only one story wasn't worth reading, Buried Talents, I never got the point to the story.
BillyM8 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The book is really good tell Robert meets ruth and then i started to stop reading it. I would like to see more of the book in the moive to.
erinclark on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Now I know where the title came from. Enjoyable read but I felt sometimes the science biology stuff bogged down the pace of the story. Still, it kept my interest and a has a credible ending.
mccin68 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Robert Neville becomes the last man on earth, his only companions are the vampires fighting to devouor him. This short story begins after the earth is rapidly overtaken by a virus that turns humans into vampires. for some reason it appears Robert is the only person on Earth that is immune to this virus. His days are filled with maintaining his safety, investigating the science behind the destruction and his nights mixed with tolerating the taunts of the vampires staking out his house and memories of his wife and child who also sucumbed to this disease. the ending was a very suprising twist. I would have liked to know more about the events leading up to the plague and his family but overall a good read.
jkovach on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Loved the story but was dissappointed that it ended with about 100 pages left in the book. These pages contain other stories by the author.
nesum on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really do wish I could rate this book higher, mainly because I loved "I Am Legend" so much. I thought the story was really wonderful, with a more interesting story than the film (though the film has some great action and suspense scenes that the book does not have).But "I Am Legend" is only about half the book, and the rest is filled with other short stories. Unfortunately, these other stories are almost all really bad. Only about two of them are even worth reading.So I would rate "I Am Legend" four or five stars, but the rest of the book only one, so we averaged out at three.