I Am Legend by Richard Matheson: Book Review

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson Book Cover

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I Am Legend

4 Stars
Review of I Am Legend

Several GR friends have read this and raved about it recently. I’ve been doing a lot of Halloween-related books this month, so I decided to give it a try.

It somehow wasn’t exactly what I expected, and I mean that in a good way. I’ve seen bits of the Will Smith movie (and what I’ve seen has very little in common with the book), I’ve read my friends’ reviews, but it’s still something that I think you have to experience for yourself to understand.

I would definitely call it a horror book, but not exactly for the reason that I expected. There are the vampires, and there are a couple of intense scenes with them, but that wasn’t what made the book scary to me. It was more about the absolute aloneness that Neville experiences. He truly is the last man in the world. How would you deal with that? Would you give up? Would you keep fighting? Would you start searching for others? Would you search for the reason behind the horror that has become your life? Matheson explores all of these avenues and more. Neville’s reactions felt very real to me. I experienced all of his emotions with him. The vampires were scary at first, and then they just sort of become background noise. Then there’s the rage, despair, curiosity, really the whole gamut of emotions that you would feel in that position. There’s even one scene that just broke my heart. It’s all in here, it all feels very real, and I am very impressed. Highly recommended.

Review of the other stories

I finished out the other stories and they were pretty good. They weren’t on a level with I Am Legend, but there were some genuinely spooky pieces in here. My favorites were

“Prey” about an insecure woman and an African doll
“Dress of White Silk” about a little girl showing off her mother’s evening dress
“Person to Person” about a guy who answers a phone that’s ringing inside his head

My least favorite were

“Buried Talents” about a carnival game
“Dance of the Dead” which is vaguely post-Apocalyptic
“Mad House” about an angry man in an angry house.

I’m glad I read them, but I Am Legend was definitely the star of this show.

Reviewed October 14 and 21, 2009

Read an excerpt.

Buy I Am Legend at


Friday Flashback Reviews are a weekly feature here on The Introverted Reader. These are old reviews I wrote on GoodReads. Thanks to Angieville and her Retro Friday Reviews for the inspiration and encouragement!

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s, my local independent bookstore located in downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site.

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  1. The loneliness in this is so terrifying and really gets under your skin. I was surprised that the creatures were vampires, because they didn't strike me that way at all in the movie. All in all I really liked it. I could not get myself to read the short stories that followed, though.

  2. It's been a while since I've read this one but I remember it being good and creepy. A great October book indeed.

  3. I want to get my hands on I am legend so bad I really enjoyed the movie and the book seems to have so much more to it. Thanks for your review! 😉

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