Robert Neville is the last human on earth. Or might be. He doesn't really know. What he does know is that a devastating virus has swept through the world, turning the inhabitants into vampires. Now Robert is alone, held up in a bunker that once was his home, king of all he surveys by day, trapped and surrounded by rapacious vampires by night. Can one man survive in a world of vampires?
Legend flips the traditional vampire story on it's head by putting vampires in the majority, with an outclassed humanity on the run. Neville is a man who has lost everything: his work, his wife, his child, his whole world. By day, he can sally forth outside of his house, looking for food and supplies, but every night, he is besieged by vampires literally starving for his blood, perhaps the last truly human blood on the planet. It's dark, it's claustrophobic, and, in a post-Covid pandemic world, this story strikes a little too close to home (but in the best way).
Oddly, this story didn't hit me as hard as Matheson's other fiendishly frightening book, Hell House. Perhaps, having lived through multiple lockdowns, I've become accustomed to the terror of it. And although Matheson does occasionally fall prey to certain story-telling tropes of the time (it AMAZING how many horny, well-endowed, under-clothed women survive the various holocausts, plagues, invasions, and disasters in the sci-fi worlds of the 1950s and 1960s - and how often they need the love of a good(read: available) man in the midst of said crisis #eyeroll), it actually works with the story here. The story is succinct, bloody, and well-reasoned, as well as a fascinating look at a man, struggling with loneliness, loss, and a world without meaning. It is not for the faint of heart.
I Am Legend is well worth the read for lovers of horror and sci-fi. (However, I would caution against reading it while in quarantine. ;) )