BOOK REVIEW: I Am Legend – by Richard Matheson


Title: I Am Legend
Author: Richard Matheson
Genre: Horror, Science Fiction, Classics
First published: 1954
Finished reading: January 7th 2015
Pages: 160
Rating 4,5

“He stood there for a moment looking around the silent room, shaking his head slowly. All these books, he thought, the residue of a planet’s intellect, the scrapings of futile minds, the leftovers, the potpourri of artifacts that had no power to save men from perishing.”


I Am Legend is one of those cases where the book is just SO much better than the movie. I saw the movie ages before reading this novel by Richard Matheson and thought it was ‘ok’. But now I’ve read the book, I honestly don’t know what they were thinking when they were writing the script. They were able to completely destroy the message of the novel and the words ‘I am legend’ lose their original meaning on the screen. The description of the main character Robert Neville is impressive. Matheson shows us how Neville reacts to the death of his wife and child; how hope and despair intertwine as he is trying to coope with the fact that he is the last living man on Earth. The prose is simply brilliant and even though Neville isn’t exactly likeable, with scenes like the one with the dog or when he has to bury his wife you cannot help but feel pity for him.  I Am Legend is not just another vampire story. It’s an intense journey full of dangers, despair and a psychological study of a man who is forced to live in survival mode. If you like horror and science fiction, read this classic!


A few years ago, a disease started to spread rapidly throughout the world Robert Neville lives in today. Initially it was only making people sick, but soon enough they would start to change… Vampires. The world is now full of them, and Neville seems to be the last living man on Earth. They never figured out how the disease first started or spread, but the consequences are clear. Neville is forced to live in survival mode; killing vampires by day and locking himself inside his home during the night so the creatures cannot get to him. It doesn’t matter how many he kills; more seem to come back the next day  hungry for his blood. Solitude and despair are slowly destroying him, but he is determined to find a cure for the infected that are still living. The answer to the disease might not be the one he was looking for though…


I Am Legend is a powerful book that will positively freak you out if you are not into the horror genre. The psychological study of the Neville character and the fact that the vampires feel ‘authentic’ made this novel into one of my favorite horror/SF reads so far, and it is without doubt recommendable. Don’t confuse the book with the movie though; they are completely different!

17 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: I Am Legend – by Richard Matheson

  1. I may have to give this one a try! I’m kind of a wimp when it comes to the horror genre, but I’ve been easing myself in by reading about horror monsters that don’t really scare me as such (like vampires), that way I can focus on the storytelling. I started out with Salem’s Lot. It was fun to read but totally NOT scary. It sounds like I Am Legend is a better choice in that regard.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I Am Legend is not as scary as some other books, as Matheson focuses a lot of his pages on a psychological study of the main character… Kind of a study what being the last living human being does to a man. Very interesting and at least the vampires seem more real than their Twilight counterparts! 😉 I really should read Salem’s Lot by the way; I’ve read quite a few Stephen King’s so far, but somehow this title is still on my wishlist…


      • Salem’s Lot was my first Stephen King read. Even though I liked it, I feel like it wasn’t a good representation of his work (with it not being scary and all). Have you read any King books that are middling scary?


      • Hmm, I think most of his work either has monsters or are more psychological… I remember The Shining belonging to the second group and it was pretty scary AND good.


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