I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Jan 28, 2013

I picked up I am Legend when I learned that the Horror Writer’s Association had recently voted it Best Vampire Novel of the Century. First published in 1954, the only thing dated that I noticed was the records the main character played at night to drown out the sounds of the marauding vampires.

When the whole world succumbs to vampirism, Robert Neville, as far as he can determine, is the last living human. He spends every day on search and destroy missions. That is, when he isn’t fortifying his house against the vampires who seek him out every night, repairing damage or trying new strategies, or working to discover a cure for the disease. You can imagine how monotonous that would be for Robert Neville, because it’s pretty monotonous to read. Still, it’s a great story. Just not a blood-pumping, scream-when-the-doorbell-rings kind of read.

Is it the best? I have a few vampire reads under my belt, and comparing I am Legend to, say, The Radleys or Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side is simply apples to oranges. I suppose the HWA chose it for its influence on the pandemic/zombie/vampire genre. (It even influenced Stephen King!)

Reviewed by Helen H.
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