“But are his needs any more shocking than the needs of other animals and men? Are his deeds more outrageous than the deeds of the parent who drained the spirit from his child? The vampire may foster quickened heartbeats and levitated hair. But is he worse than the parent who gave to society a neurotic child who became a politician? Is he worse than the manufacturer who set up belated foundations with the money he made by handing bombs and guns to suicidal nationalists? Is he worse than the distiller who gave bastardized grain juice to stultify further the brains of those who, sober, were incapable of a progressive thought? (Nay, I apologize for this calumny; I nip the brew that feeds me.) Is he worse, then, than the publisher who filled ubiquitous racks with lust and death wishes? Really, now, search your soul, lovie–is the vampire so bad?
All he does is drink blood.”
* * *
I finished reading I Am Legend last night. It is not the same as the film, and one should not go into it believing that the film is an exact adaptation. Strangely enough, I prefer it this way. Generally, I’m a purist when it comes to movie adaptations, but so much was changed that the book and film are essentially two different stories with similar elements.
This is so because I Am Legend was published in the 1950s and takes place in the 1970s. The film is obviously much more relevant to our time. At times in the novel, I read about Robert Neville’s theories on why he is immune to the disease or about how the vampiris germ spreads, and I found myself thinking, “This isn’t really believable.” Then I reminded myself that I’m reading this more than 50 years after its publication, and most likely, in the 50s, Matheson was way ahead of his time.
The best thing about this book is the commentary on society. I found the above quote fascinating, and it’s great writing, in my opinion. The excerpt comes at a time when Neville is frustrated with his ineffectiveness against fighting the vampires. He’s been alone (well, without the presence of another human) for more than five months, and the time alone is affecting his rationale. He even wonders why he’s fighting so hard–why not just join them? Why keep fighting? And, really…what’s so bad about vampires? 🙂
I won’t spoil the ending, which is a definite surprise and incredibly intriguing. When I finished the book last night and set it down beside me, all sorts of questions ran through my head. What happens when society degrades? Could that happen in America–is it already happening in a way? How is it possible to live when one is the only person left confronting evil?
The book is good. The film is exceptional. The legends are different.