...before I’ll give in!"
(I am Legend. Richard Mathson, 1954)
No one weaves a story like Mathson. His word choice, the chilling phrases he uses to create his setting...his novels are those I crave to read. Works of prose like his are the reason I read until 3AM knowing I have to get up at 5AM for work.
Like those lusty naked vampires in Chapter 3, I was ready to drink his blood as I read through the pages. The story was completely compelling, but not just the story...it was the language used to tell the story. Sure, I'd seen the movie. I'd never read the novel. I found the written work much more enjoyable (and completely different), and I felt myself grab on to the pace of the story during the early fight scenes, my eyes rapidly scanning the lines while my own pulse quickened with anxiety and anticipation for Robert Neville. I was afraid for his life, despite the fact he was immune to the vampire bite.
"The wound had healed cleanly. But then, he hadn’t been overly concerned about that. Time had more than proved to him that he was immune to their infection." (I Am Legend, Richard Matheson)
The following are a couple of my favorite quotes in chapter 3 that I think highlighted the very premise of the book:
"The strength of the vampire is that no one will believe in him.”
(I Am Legend, p. 28, Richard Matheson)
"And before science had caught up with the legend, the legend had swallowed science and everything.
(I Am Legend, p. 29, Richard Matheson)
While reading I feel compelled to say, I didn't take the main character as a 'whiskey sour' kinda guy. I thought whiskey straight up or scotch or rum at first. Nothing so...complicated. Later Matheson just describes Robert as drinking 'whiskey', but the initial whiskey sour bothered me...like a guy would have all of the ingredients to make one (and maybe he did) or take the time. And what KIND of whiskey was Neville drinking? I would like to have known. I, perhaps, would have thought of Matheson, and dear old Richard every time I gulped a namesake shot. I guess that flagrantly shows my mindset when I read.
What I truly enjoyed about the book was the language Matheson used, his brilliant scene setting and his own unique writing style. The story line was fantastic, the scientific reasoning behind the vampire plague plausible, and many of the little scientific details Matheson wove into the story were fun to read from a medical point of view. I'm a forensic nurse and nurse practitioner/midwife by trade.
Minor distractors in the prose that were irritating... those things we are taught in writing NOT to do this day and age. Phrases like writing out 'he thought', and no italics on the thought, and some overuse of some adverbs bugged me. Other than that, I thought the work was excellent.
Story items that bothered me: on page 86 (Kindle edition) Richard discovers (after painstakingly teaching himself medicine and how to use a microscope) that the vampires are created due to an infection ('vampiris' he calls the bacteria) which makes me wonder if it were that simple all along, then why wasn't it discovered by scientists sooner? He also mentions setting 'milk' out for the dog, which I found incredible at first, after 8-11 months of the plague. But then I rationalized as I read. Perhaps he had 'dried' milk and had to reconstitute it. Maybe he had a freezer large enough to freeze some milk. Perhaps some of the milk he drank was canned. I felt better after musing. Then I was suspicious as I wondered how Richard still had drinkable running water, and later I cursed Matheson for killing the dog in chapter thirteen. Cruel, cruel writer!
An inconsistency bothered me in chapter eighteen, when Richard found Ruth, and later she supposedly took a bath. If her 'tan' was makeup, did she somehow bring some makeup with her? How did she still have makeup on her legs after the bath?
And so it went, my emotional and clinical reading roller-coaster, until the last. I loved the science that Matheson/Richard took time to learn. I loved reading about the mutation of the vampire race. And I cried at Richard's final realization that he was the last of his kind as he took the pills that helped end his life. And at 1:49AM on January 14th, I finished reading "I Am Legend." The early hour a testimony to how riveting the story was in my brain that I couldn't stop reading; my wet cheeks a mental and physical response to the realization that while all things change...
...compassion is timeless.
I Am Legend From DeViant Art: by patrickbrown)