I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson

Seven stars

Encouraged by my reading group to try this piece by Richard Matheson, I was soon pulled into the world of vampires and a massive plague (how fitting!) as this story unravelled. Robert Neville is in a battle against the world, or so it seems to him. His house surrounded by vampires, Neville must try to negotiate his way around in order to ensure he has the necessities to fend off the attack. Many of his friends and neighbours have succumbed to these blood sucking beasts, but there must be more to this existence. As time progresses, Neville turns scientific and discovers some of the microbiological aspects of the plague, as well as how it spreads from host to host. Neville uses this knowledge to work on some sort of defence, in hopes that it will allow him the chance to push back and take his life into his own hands. When another human crosses his path, he passes along all the information he has, hoping it is not a Trojan Horse sent to trick him. In his own mind, Robert Neville is a legend for cracking the code, though the reader may feel otherwise. A decent story, though by far nothing on the level of Stoker’s eerie storytelling.

When this book was assigned during the annual submission of tomes in early February 2020, I had never read Richard Matheson’s work. However, before trying this book, I did dabble into his world when I read a short piece by the author, which inspired Stephen King and one of his sons to use it as a launching pad for a more modern piece of horror. In this story, Matheson shows off some of his eerie side, though I did not get the scare factor I hoped to find. Robert Neville came across as quite level-headed, at least as much as he could be under the circumstances. His limited backstory came out through the pages of this book, though I was not connecting to him as much as I would have liked. Aspects of Neville’s personality shone through, particularly when he turned microbiologist and quasi-geneticist, but I was still slightly disinterested as the story progress. There are glimpses of other characters in this piece, which Matheson develops when the need arises. They help complement Neville, but do not leave a lasting impact for me. The premise of the piece was decent and I would have loved to feel more connected to the entire situation, but I found it was half horror and half cerebral, neither of which drew me in when I needed it most. I hope others find this was chilling and highly entertaining. I’ll just be sure to have some garlic on hand for Rounds 2 and 3 of COVID-19!

Kudos, Mr. Matheson, for this piece. Not something I’ll flock back to read again, but I could be in the minority.

This book fulfils the April 2020 requirement of the Mind the Bookshelf Gap Reading Challenge.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons