A vampire plague has wiped out the vast majority of humanity, and the blood-thirsty beasts roam the streets at night.
Robert Neville is the last man on Earth, the only survivor of this devastating apocalypse. By day he scavenges for essential supplies: food, water, fuel etc. as the vampires take shelter from the deadly rays of the sun. While at night, once evening blooms and shadows lengthen, he locks himself away indoors, riding out the night in the confines of his house, praying for the dawn.
After months of repetitive struggle, Robert accidentally discovers something unexpected about the vampires, changing his outlook on a bleak situation. He begins to research otherwise ignored areas of vampire lore and biomedical science, as he attempts to uncover the cause of the outbreak, and concoct a cure that might save humanity. Will his efforts be successful?
“In life there were the deranged, the insane. What better hold than vampirism for these to catch on to? He was certain that all the living who came to his house at night were insane, thinking themselves true vampires although actually they were only demented sufferers.” – p102
“I am predominantly vegetable, he often thought to himself.” – p105
Richard Matheson’s short novel I Am Legend is one of the original attempts at a gothic horror interpretation on the vampire genre from way back in 1954, long before it was romanticised by the likes of Stephenie Meyer or Charlaine Harris.
It centres on main character, Robert Neville and focuses more on Robert’s seemingly futile struggle with the loneliness and isolation of being the last human being alive on Earth, as opposed to those of the vampires, who must attack and feed on living creatures for their survival.
It has been a long, long time since I read a novel from a writer who truly knew how to tell a compelling story, keeping the reader interested and entertained from start to finish. I Am Legend is definitely one of the very best depictions of a vampire apocalypse to have ever been written, and at 5 out of 5 stars is a must-read for all fans of science fiction or horror.