'I Am Legend' by Richard Matheson (1954)

I Am Legend - Richard Matheson

Richard Matheson, I Am Legend (London: Gollancz, 2001), 160pp

 

A thrilling post-apocalyptic page-turner with one of the most profound endings in fiction. Matheson has more to say about the nature of mankind and society, and the relativity of morality, than most books twice this length. He's particularly good at evoking the psychological pressures that come with being the Last Man on Earth.

That said, I don't think the fantastical elements of the vampires (the garlic, crosses, etc.) were entirely in sync with the scientific explanations (bacteria, genetic mutations, etc.), although the dissonance did not really detract from my enjoyment of the story. But I thought the film adaptation of I Am Legend from 2007 was better than the book. That may seem like heresy to some book-lovers, but I strongly feel that the narrative and thematic changes made in the film were an improvement over Matheson's novel.