"Outside, they howled and pummeled the door, shouting his name in a paroxysm of fury."
I Am Legend, in my opinion, is one of the greatest sci fi-horror novels of all time. I may just be biased since it is my favorite novel ever written. But it has always been a "go-to" of mine in my own personal library.
I remember back when I was around seven-years-old, when I first began a lifelong interest in literature (predominantly horror and science fiction), my uncle gave me one of the many copies he owned of this very specific text, which was always exciting to me, because my uncle always had a new book waiting for me to open and explore whenever I would come and visit him. And he still does to this day. Seriously, every time I see him, he always has a new book for me to check out before I leave. He's definitely the main reason why I have such a deep appreciation for writing, music, art, literature, etc.
Anyways, what he handed to me on this particular day was a "treasure." Being a child, I had no idea that this would be life changing in a sense, not only to myself, but to many artists, writers, directors, and so on.
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson was first published in 1954. 160 pages depicting a life of forced solitude and loneliness in a world ravaged by a plague. The Protagonist of the story, a middle-aged man known as Robert Neville, is believed to be the last man on Earth. Not only is he struggling with the thought of just ending it all and taking his own life because of the extreme loneliness, but he also struggles with the fact that vampires keep knocking on his door every single night, coaxing him to come out.
This story, from what I understand, is the very first of its kind. It was very influential in the development of the zombie-vampire genre of fiction, and it popularized the concept of a worldwide apocalypse due to disease. It was definitely the influence behind the George A. Romero classic Night of the Living Dead.
There have been three major motion pictures created based off of the story. Well, four... but I never count that one, since I found it to be absolutely god awful and shitty. I'm very sure that most of you have seen or heard one, if not all of them:
- The Last Man On Earth (1964 with Vincent Price)
- The Omega Man (1971 with Charlton Heston)
- I Am Legend (2007 with Will Smith)
I enjoyed all three films growing up, and they starred three legendary actors portraying the character of Robert Neville. If you watch the films, you will notice that The Last Man On Earth is the closest when it comes to keeping with same story line as the book.
Unless you have been living under a cultural rock, Stephen King himself might never have became the literary legend he is today if it wasn't for Mr. Matheson creating this timeless classic that helped influence a lot of his early writings. Like I mentioned before, George A. Romero probably never would have created the film Night of the Living Dead that still captivates artists and audiences a like.
This is just my own personal opinion. This is basically just a short review on a novel that was published over sixty years ago. In Ritualistic fasion, I read it once a year. YES. Once a year. Especially during flu season (laughs). But why not? If you love something so much, that one thing may catapult you back to reminisce about your childhood, learn how to cope with solitude, or somehow teach you to survive both literally and figuratively.
If you're a fan of scifi-horror or post-apocalyptic fiction, then I encourage you to go out and find your own copy, and form your own opinion. This is the novel that started it all. The very first of its kind.
"A new terror born in death, a new superstition entering the unassailable fortress of forever. I am legend."