I am Legend by Richard Matheson

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, Genre: Fiction/ Vampires, Pages: 170, Reading Level: Easy

Book Description:

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?

Wow! How have I not read this before?

So far, three different people have stated the story is about such and such, and then there is the possibility this story is just about vampires. But, we’ll get to that in a minute.

The writing is just phenomenal. I don’t know what else to say about it. Phenomenal.

The storyline is intriguing, but don’t expect a suspenseful, car chasing, buildings exploding kind of story. The main character is the last living man on Earth. There’s not a lot of dialogue. And we’re not talking sparkly vampires here. So, no love story.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get into the fun stuff. Interpretation (I know you can’t hear it, but I’m actually singing that in my head).

First, you have the possibility it is just a vampire story, plain and simple.

The next three possibilities come from a discussion thread on an online book group board.

Second, someone commented that the main character could be a serial killer and the vampires are how he sees everyone else.

Third, someone commented that the story is about humanity’s tendency toward self-destruction.

Finally, I put forth the theory that I am Legend is a metaphor for society in that terms such as insanity are relative to a majority. Hence, definitions change with a change of majority status, with a recognition of how enduring change is violent more frequently than not.

I know what you are thinking right now- I am totally reading things into this story that simply are not there. Well I am here to tell you… eh, it wouldn’t be the first time and it certainly won’t be the last. You be the judge-

He moved slowly across the living room, looking at the mural that covered the back wall. It showed a cliff edge, sheering off to green-blue ocean that surged and broke over black rocks. Far up in the clear blue sky, white sea gulls floated on the wind, and over on the right a gnarled tree hung over the precipice, its dark branches etched against the sky.

Hmmm… do I smell foreshadowing? Or-

And suddenly he thought, I’m the abnormal one now. Normalcy was a majority concept, the standard of many and not the standard of just one man.

Come on, that one was just blatant, right?

There were other quotes I wanted to include, but I want you to come up with your own theory.

Funny story- I started reading and wanted to just drop a note on the thread because I was a little behind and the discussion had started already. After my comment, someone wondered if he was reading the wrong version. So I double checked and it turns out I was reading the wrong book entirely. I was reading I, Robot. I went ahead and peeked at the discussion and am glad I did because the serial killer comment was already on there. It was quite interesting reading with that thought in my head, searching for supporting quotes, and they’re there. I came to a different conclusion but I could definitely argue the serial killer plot. This is just one of those stories that leaves itself open to many interpretations and knowing some ahead of time doesn’t ruin the book at all. I don’t even know what the author said about it and he may have had a concrete message.

Conclusion- I am Legend is pure genius. I highly recommend it whether you are a lover of all that is vampire or not.

Reviewed by Christina
January 4, 2014

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