I am Legend, by Richard Matheson (1954) has a simple premise. The protagonist, Robert Neville, is the last man on Earth. Everyone else has been turned into vampires. Neville spends his days hunting vampires and scavenging for supplies, and his nights locked up in his house while vampires bang on the walls.
At around 150 pages, it’s a quick read. The story is suspensful and packed with tension, but the novel’s real strength is that it is about more than just getting cheap thrills. It goes deep into into the character of Robert, who is very much an everyman. We see his internal struggles; his quest to make sense of what has happened; and when the book comes to its wonderfully executed, pathos-filled climax, we cry, even though the ending presented is the only realistic way the story could close.
The novel’s main weakness [spoiler] is that some key plot elements and characters (namely that of Ruth) are introduced too late, without adequate forshadowing. For instance, Ruth is introduced 60% of the way through the novel. [end spoiler]
Apart from that, I am Legend is a masterpiece when it comes to suspense, thrills, and making readers care about the main character. Read it!
My Rating: 4 terror-inducing vampires out of 5.
So, there’s my brief review. Now, here’s 3 lessons writers should take away from the book: