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abookaweek 2012: week ten

2012 March 11

I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson

Category: Dystopian / speculative fiction

Story: Published in 1954, this is the story of how, in the 70s, the US suffered a vampire plague that annihilated the population. The protagonist, Robert Neville, lives by himself in a fortress of a house, which is inundated by vampires every night.

Opinion: Sounds scary, right? Exciting?

Eh.

I liked having an older take on the vampire story and all its associated myths (mirrors, garlic, etc), especially in light of all the vampire fiction (in books and TV) that has come out in recent years and which I have consumed with little discrimination, or shame for that matter. But despite its relative literariness I thought this novel really lacked in psychological depth; it’s really only alluded to that the protagonist has changed after years of isolation, and I think in reality the effect would be so much more profound.

It’s only in the final chapter that Matheson poses an interesting question: what does it mean when ‘we’ are suddenly no longer the majority, when ‘we’ become outcasts, ‘we’ are legends? But there is not enough time to get stuck in that, because a mere 5 pages later, the story ends.

A disappointment.

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