I Am Legend by Richard MathesonHm.
Honestly, this is a tough book to review.
I did like the story, but one of the biggest bothers for me here was not fully understanding why the world has gone to shit & why everyone is now a vampire.
The book just drops you right in the middle of Robert Nevilles situation, which is a day to day existence of killing vampires during the day & hiding in his house during the night.
Im the kind of SF reader who likes a bit of depth to be given to the cause of disaster, and this story largely glosses over the Why?
But Im coming at it from the angle of a reader who has exhausted the zombie/vampire/virus genre. For the time it was written, this probably struck readers in a much different way.
If youre basing your opinion of this book solely off your knowledge of the movie, Id ahead and throw that idea out the window because this book is nothing like the Will Smith, good-guy-out-to-save-humanity, crying-over-his-dog, self-sacrificing version Hollywood has created.
This is much darker.
In fact, I imagine a group of important movie folks came to the conclusion that Mathesons story is pretty nifty, but how about we throw out all the deep, scary conclusions about human nature & amp up the action x1000 & also we need a German Shepherd in there so Smith comes off as even more relatable & wholesome.
Robert Neville is not necessarily squeaky clean protagonist, and that realistic quality of his character is essential to the observations Matheson is making here. By the end, you arent 100% sure what outcome youre rooting for & for me that is one of the most powerful aspects of how the story is told.
But again, Im not sure Im fully on board with the details of why & how Neville has managed to survive for years under these conditions.
Neville has brick- & rock-proofed his home against the vampires that are constantly trying to get in with a reliable supply of garlic. He sound proofs his house, has a gas generator that he keeps running by way of a nearby gas station, and an ungodly amount of alcohol, cigarettes, and wine in his home.
I guess a scenario where all of those things exist in Nevilles possession isnt outlandish but the story itself wasnt long enough to explore any sort of break down of these proofs, and thus it felt a bit unrealistic to me.
Even so, Matheson does well in capturing the absolute lowest levels of human desperation, taking us down deep into the terrifying subconscious of a secluded man on the brink of losing his ability to be compassionate & remember what it means to be human.
The pro here is, if youre curious about this story, its short & will only take a bit of time to consume. If you dont love it, no big loss. If you do, well now you know!
Unfortunately I didnt love it, but I appreciate the concepts here & I definitely enjoyed the last 1/4 a lot more than the first 3/4. Worth a read!
This review and other reviews of mine can be found on Book Nest!
I Am Legend Ending Explained
The opening scenes of "I Am Legend" have special effects so good that they just about compensate for some later special effects that are dicey. We see Manhattan three years after a deadly virus has killed every healthy human on the island, except one. The streets are overgrown with weeds, cars are abandoned, the infrastructure is beginning to collapse. Down one street, a sports car races, driven by Robert Neville Will Smith , who is trying to get a good shot at one of the deer roaming the city. He has worse luck than a lioness who competes with him. Neville has only his dog to keep him company.
The Krippin Virus was genetically engineered from the Measles virus by Dr. Alice Krippin as a cure for cancer. KV at first appeared to be effective with no side-effects, but over time, the virus began to mutate and cause rabies -like symptoms in its hosts. Of the million who did not die from the virus, only 12 million were naturally immune to KV; the other million devolved into Darkseekers. There are two strains of the Krippin Virus: the airborne strain, which is spread through the air, and the contact strain, which is apparently spread through blood-saliva contact. The contact strain of KV appears to overwhelm dogs much quicker than humans; it will only take a matter of hours before both the physiological and psychological symptoms of KV manifest in host dogs. The Krippin Virus drastically changes its hosts' behaviour, causing extreme bloodlust and primal aggression.
Boasting some fine understated acting from Will Smith and a refreshingly bleak tone for a film of its scale, I Am Legend was a monstrous hit on release in The tale of a violent infection and the one man left to fight it almost made it to the screen in many different iterations before director Francis Lawrence came onboard. However, Del Toro's influence can still be seen in the finished film. Willow Smith, hair whipper, spiritual prophet and daughter to Will, has a brief appearance in the film. About a week into the shoot, director Francis Lawrence felt that the prosthetics used on the infected were unconvincing and decided to go with CGI instead, which meant that the budget leaped up and the film had a longer production. It didn't work at all. There's a rather fascinating alternate ending to the film which puts an entirely different spin on the film.