I watched the movie I Am Legend a few months ago and enjoyed it. (Who doesn't love Will Smith?) I really wanted to read the book by Richard Matheson after that but saved it for Carl's RIP Challenge. While it was quite a bit different, I liked it just the same.
Robert Neville is the only survivor of a terrible plague that's either killed everyone or turned them into vampires. These are the real deal; they come out only at night, fear garlic and crosses, and drink human blood. Every night he faces vampires who were once his neighbours, as they try to lure him out of his house. He's almost driven to madness by the sound of their voices.
During the day, he hunts the vampires down and destroys them, while searching for a cure to the disease that makes them what they are. He must make sure he is home by dark. I don't want to say much more about I Am Legend since it's very short and the ending packs a wallop.
What struck me the most about I Am Legend, is the terrible loneliness. Matheson strikes home what humans fear the most, not just the creatures lurking in the darkness, but being alone. Neville is so lonely that the sight of a dog brings him such joy. I also felt the tension building up inside Neville. He falls easily into rages and despair.
I wish so much to discuss the end, but I cannot do so without ruining it if you haven't read it. All I can say is that the title is the last line- it gives me shivers. The concept is a brilliant one and I've been thinking of it ever since.
There are some very tense moments when Neville doesn't make it home after dark. It's a fantastic horror tale without a lot of gore, much of the terror is psychological. That's the perfect type for me. Matheson's writing reminds me of Shirley Jackson's. It's smart, tense and has some commentary on society as well.
[There are a some short stories in my copy. I'm making my way through them. They're hit and miss; some very good, others not so.]