Friday, August 8, 2008

Post-Apocolyptic Summer Reading, Part 2

I Am Legend
by Robert Matheson

I saw the movie first. The one starring Will Smith as Robert Neville, the last human alive in Manhattan (and perhaps the earth) after a synthesized cancer curing virus mutates and starts killing everyone. Well, almost everyone. The movie was ok, Will Smith is energetic and entertaining, there's a dog, and some zombie creatures that somehow survived the epidemic. Oh, and some really well done computer graphic work. It could have been a good movie. Maybe a great movie. They waited to bring God into the flick until the last 20 minutes. I won't say what exactly happens since I'm sure at least 4 of my 10 loyal readers will rush out to rent the movie. Plus, after I read the book, Will Smith just isn't introspective enough to play Neville. So, let's get back to the BOOK, which bears little resemblance to the movie.....

The book was penned in the 50's and bears almost no resemblance to the movie. Once again, a virus has killed off just about everyone, turning most people into vampires. Takes place in LA, there is a dog, briefly. There is a woman in the book, too, but she plays to the stereotype of the "designing woman", which I found more than a little annoying. But it plays out in the book fairly well. Oh, the zombies in the movie are actually vampires in the book. So Robert Neville spends his days running around Santa Monica driving stakes through vampires hearts. We ALL know they only come out at night, right? And he uses standard gear for warding off vampires such as mirrors, necklaces of garlic, crosses, etc. I liked the part where he wonders if a cross would ward off an Islamic vampire. (guess I'll check Wikepedia). I've asked Poodledoc, Jr this question, since he's quite an authority on vampires. He just laughs at me! Anyway, back to the book. It's way darker than the movie. Matheson has his character spend more time in hopeless moods, introspecting and also drinking heavily. The vampires are much scarier than the zombies from the movie. And in the book, Neville even offers up a prayer or two, although he doesn't seem to have much faith that any God will be there to hear. I will say that the book had some really excellent suspense writing, which I enjoyed. But as far as post-apocolyptic fiction, I wouldn't rate it very high. Creepy? Yes. Suspenseful? Yes, in places. My feeling is that both the book and the movie fail to to answer the question: Where is God?

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