Monday, 24 June 2013

He is Legend

Richard Matheson died today. I've only read one of his books but it was phenomenal. I read I Am Legend after seeing the Will Smith film of the same name, I remember enjoying the film but being blown away by the book. The film was a serviceable post-trauma zombie movie, the book is a classic piece of horror literature. Dark, claustrophobic and intelligent I am Legend has maybe the most interesting takes on the vampire story I've ever encountered. It's a short, powerful book with no words wasted and something very interesting to say.

At the start of I am Legend Robert Neville is the last surviving human in a world of vampires. He spends his days hunting them and his nights locked up in his house hoping the creatures outside don't find their way in. At first the book does a fantastic job of portraying Neville as a practical, capable man struggling to maintain his sanity in the face of complete loneliness. However, as the story progresses it heads into darker and darker territory towards an ending that's as bleak as it is perfect. I struggle to thing of a work of fiction with an ending as effective as I am Legend's. The storytelling is tight, focused and fearless. Neville remains an interesting and sympathetic character despite the impossible situations he finds himself in, I found myself desperately rooting for him despite the hopelessness of his situation.

I am Legend is rightfully considered to be a classic of Science Fiction Horror and has gone on to massively influence the genre. The zombie story is particularly indebted to Matheson, his story serving as a sort of pre-cursor to the genre in a way similar to George A Romero's Night of the Living Dead. Despite the sometimes off-putting genre pedigree I would recommend I am Legend to anyone in a way that I wouldn't with other influential writers. Don't bother with any of the adaptations just read the book. I'm going to check out some of his other works.

No comments:

Post a Comment