14 June 2009

I Am Legend Book Review

As I previously mentioned, I Am Legend by Richard Matheson is a book of short stories. The title story "I Am Legend" is the basis for the movie with Will Smith. There are eleven stories in this book.

Overall, I give the book a 7 out 10. Some stories were creepy, some imaginative, and some very dated. I prefer Stephen King or Dean Koontz for horror short stories. Comparatively, these were tame. Then again, Matheson was writing in the 50's.

Here is a rundown of each short story:

"I Am Legend" is very different from the movie. It does not take place in NYC, it was not a cure for cancer that mutated that created the zombies, and there were not zombies. Instead, the main character is a man that teaches himself how to study the mutated disease that caused all of humanity to become vampires. The entire disease story was weak, but that was not the main terror in the book. The real terror was watching a person go through the loneliness. Matheson did a superb job detailing the anger, depression, and acceptance a person would go through.

"Buried Talents" reminded me of Heroes. It described what a person might do if he could move things with his mind. After shows like X-Men and Heroes, this story seems a bit unimaginative.

"The Near Departed" was cliche. I knew the ending before it happened.

"Prey" was a good horror tale, though it has been told in movies such as Puppet Master. I think that there was a Creep Show or other short movie based on this tale. It is about a murderous doll. I already have a fear of dolls thanks to tales like this. What makes this story different from others is that the woman the doll is chasing finds a strength and perseverance that she did not have in her everyday life. The story also has a great pace. Up to the very last paragraph, you cannot tell if the woman or the doll will win .

"Witch War" is another that could be a story from X-Men or Heroes. Unlike the previous story, this one is very imaginative and very disturbing.

"Dance of the Dead" reminds me of Clockwork Orange. It is a futuristic tale complete with slang language that is defined. It is the old "mama told you not to go out with those kinds of people and do those kinds of things" tale. This tale has the highest gross out factor, but overall I did not care for the tale.

"Dress of White Silk" did not have a great plot, but the way the story was told through the voice of a little girl was very well done, especially for a man writing it.

"Mad House" was the best short story. I love the idea of inanimate objects absorbing the feelings of people and then turning it against them. Matheson also did a wonderful job describing what it is like to have anger-management issues. If you don't understand how difficult is can be to control your anger, read this.

"The Funeral" was amusing. Nothing more, nothing less.

"From Shadowed Places" could be a precursor to The Serpent and the Rainbow. Interesting premise, excellent pacing, and intriguing imagery.

"Person to Person"
was a little silly, but interesting. I did not guess what was happening, but I felt the ending was a letdown.

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