I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

by Karen

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson is not a traditional vampire book - it's a novel depicting how the world could look after a degenerative virus strikes, turning everybody into mindless sun-fearing creatures, feeding on the flesh and blood of those not infected. One man, Robert Neville, is immune to the virus and sees the whole world around him turn into an apocalyptic nightmare.

After some time he gets his shit together and decides to try to find a way to cure this disease by teaching himself bio-chemistry through library books. One day, while scavenging the ruins of a city, he finds another apparently uninfected and takes her captive (having been hunted by the vampires for a couple of years makes you kinda skittish, I guess).

Her name is Ruth - a sort-of romance develops between them, until Robert finds out after taking a blood sample that she actually IS infected. As he discovers this, she knocks him on the head and leaves a note to explain to Robert that the vampires are adapting, and some of them can now take stroll in the sunlight and are regaining intelligence.

They're trying to rebuild society, but they're (rightly) pissed at Robert since he has been capturing and ' torturing' the vampires by performing medical experiments on them. Ruth warns Robert that he should leave, or risk being captured. The book ends with Robert realizing that the infected are the new humanity; that he, by killing them in order to bring back 'his' mankind has actually been the bad guy all along.

He accepts that the infected are now society, and accepts their judgement and the capital punishment they feel he deserves. (note: the movie I am Legend is based on this book, but has cut out a lot of the moral ambiguity from the original - one of those many cases where the book is better than the movie!)

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