About the Author:
Born in 1926, Richard Matheson's first novel was published in 1954. He also wrote screenplays and episodes of The Twilight Zone.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
5 out of 5
I Am Legend
Set in a post-apocalyptic 1970s, this book is the story of Robert Neville. War has given rise to a mysterious disease that turns its victims into vampires and, as the only person immune to the disease, Neville soon becomes the last man on Earth. He is reduced to an endless cycle in which he spends his days killing the sleeping monsters or fortifying his house and spends his nights trying to block out the murderous voices of his former neighbours.
This book is one of the best I have ever read and, in terms of vampire stories, is second only to 'Dracula'. We become immersed in Neville's character as Matheson's evocative prose conveys the loneliness, paranoia and frustration of living in a world where the only human contact to be had is the endless taunts of those who want you dead.
This book is also one of the few to genuinely make me cry. There is an incredibly moving plotline in which Neville befriends a stray dog and the ultimate fate of their relationship is truly heartbreaking.
However, Matheson saves his greatest concept for last. Neville discovers that a less primal breed of vampires has established a new society, a society which hates and fears him. As this new society prepares to execute him, Neville has a revelation; by killing them whilst they sleep during the day, he has become a creature of nightmare, a monster like those he sought to destroy. With his death perilously close Neville laughs at the irony as he observes 'I am legend'.
Please don't watch the Will Smith film first (or at all, really), it totally misses the point.
5 out of 5