I am Legend, Paperback
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


An acclaimed SF novel about vampires. The last man on earth is not alone ...Robert Neville is the last living man on Earth ...but he is not alone.

Every other man, woman and child on the planet has become a vampire, and they are hungry for Neville's blood. By day he is the hunter, stalking the undead through the ruins of civilisation.

By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for the dawn. How long can one man survive like this? The SF classic that inspired the blockbuster vampire movie starring Will Smith


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Science fiction
  • ISBN: 9780575094161



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I hadn't realised that this book was published as long ago as 1954. Vampire fiction probably wasn't quite as popular then as it is today.For this reason, I Am Legend is a remarkable work.Robert Neville is living in a one-man fortress that used to be the home he shared with wife Virginia and daughter Kathy. Every day, he takes advantage of the daylight to forage for food and tools, and to kill the vampires who only come out at night. When they do come out, many of them congregate on his front lawn, trying to tempt him out so that they can drink his blood. Since the plague took hold, his existence has been one of simply surviving the night. Matheson's vampires are repelled by garlic and crosses, but not by guns or silver backed mirrors, and successfully killed by wooden stakes. Reading the book now, having absorbed Buffy, Blade, True Blood and the like, I felt myself thinking "make wooden bullets, Neville!" or liquidise the garlic for water guns, just get it done more efficiently somehow. The lore is part of popular culture now, and not just legend, so the narrator seems very out of his depth for not having this knowledge.But then again, he has a public library! By approaching the vampires as infected by a virus, Matheson earns his stripes I think - had anyone done this before him? It's a scientific interpretation also adopted by the writers of The Strain trilogy to convincing effect. Robert Neville gets himself off to the medicine section of the library, finds a microscope, and gets to work trying to find an explanation for the unexplainable.I do have a criticism, which some might argue could be explained away by the period in which the book was written. Well, perhaps two criticisms.Firstly, Chapter Ten - his first trip to the Library. "The day the library was shut down, he thought, some maiden librarian had moved down the room, pushing each chair against itself, carefully with a plodding precision that was the cachet of herself. He thought about that visionary lady. To die, he thought, never knowing the fierce joy and attendant comfort of a loved one's embrace.(...)all without knowing what it was to love and be loved."Jeez, it must have been hard to be a librarian in the 1950s. even I know that you could get male librarians then too. This reminded me of the film 'It's A Wonderful Life' where Mary Hatch ends up a spinster (librarian, of course) in the alternate life where George never existed. It's enough to make a librarian weep.Then we have that peculiar tendency of men to consider themselves god's gift to women. Robert Neville describes himself as 230 lbs, with long, thinning, straggly hair. What a catch, eh? When he finally meets another living human, he smacks her in the face then locks her in his bedroom. "Her figure was very slim, almost curveless. Not at all like the woman he'd used to envision." So Mr Far From Perfect is also Mr Choosy and Judgmental. Men are still like this today. I get so sick of it. Time for a change, don't you think?Overall, I was impressed with this book, mainly for how it appears to have been a major influence on the development of the vampire myth.

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