Synopsis: Tells the story of a solitary man trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. Robert Neville has remained alive, and human, in spite of the fact that a terrible virus has infected the rest of humanity, turning them into blood-thirsty vampires. Neville fights loneliness, desires to end his life, starvation, and the nightly attacks on his fortified home. When a woman appears out of nowhere everything changes for Neville.
My Opinion: Ok, so if you have seen the movie you are probably thinking “why would anyone read that book?” Well let me tell you first why I read it and then what I thought of it. I had read several statements by very famous horror writers saying that Matheson’s I Am Legend was an inspiration to them to write horror fiction, not the least of these authors being Stephen King. Also I found out that the book was written in the 50s so I knew it couldn’t be exactly like the movie. So based on that I decided to read it, and I was really glad I did. Let me say this, this book is not the same story as the movie. I don’t know why the movie even has the same title since that is about the only thing they have in common. I don’t want to say what is different about the story lines because I don’t want to give anything away, but this book is horror, not the hopeful encouraging story from the movie. Matheson does a great job of capturing what I would guess was the mind of someone who has been alone for a long time and lost everything he loved. He scares you with the monstrous vampires but also with the enclosing loneliness and hopelessness of Neville’s situation. This was a really great book, given a bad reputation by a terrible movie that sadly carried the same but nothing more.
FYI: The Last Man on Earth was a movie made in the 60s based on I Am Legend which starred Vincent Price and actually was co-scripted by Matheson himself. It was largely influential on George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.