I Am Legend is a haunting work, a “psychological-thriller” take on the traditional zombie story (these prototypical “undead” are in fact vampires, yes – oh whatever, semantics). A good adjective to apply would be “refreshing”, if it weren’t for the fact that this was written in the 50s and pre-dates just about everything Zombie you ever read or watched.
The protagonist is a dark, tragic, potent character, the last man on earth as far as anyone can tell – a clever, resilient specimen, true, but then you ask yourself, is it worth hanging on if you’re the only one? This is the crux of all post-apocalyptic drama, the pivot: where do you find the strength to carry on? At the End of the World (a country we are beginning to know so well, through the eyes of many) it could be this nebulous concept of hope, driven by a symbol, a religion, some filament of faith in something larger; love, justice, family, some saving grace. Matheson’s tale doesn’t escape this rule, but there is something more to Robert Neville; an anti-hero, a man broken and made of tough scar tissue, a man dabbling with insanity, toeing the line, and that’s what makes I Am Legend stand apart.
Is it worth it, survival at all cost? You never get a satisfying answer, and that’s probably how it should be: life isn’t supposed to make sense.
Looking forward to checking out his other stories.