I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

i-am-legend2TitleI Am Legend

Author: Richard Matheson

ISBN: 978-0-7653-5715-1

Publication Date: 1954

Genre: (Adult) Horror Fiction

Reading Level/Interest Age:  15 and up

Plot: Robert Neville is the only survivor from a pandemic that has infected the entire city. The people that he encounters seem to have vampiric like symptoms; they only come out at night, cannot stand garlic, their reflection, and crucifixes. His nights seem long and tough when his former neighbor rallies up vampires surrounding Neville’s house taunting him and finding ways to get inside. Neville tries his best to survive by barricading himself in his house at night and then hunting those that are sleeping during the day by driving stakes into their hearts.

Critical Evaluation: Matheson has done a unique outline for this novel. He goes back and forth between what is happening currently and also with Neville’s past. This can confuse many readers at first, but within time, the pattern will become routine and it will be easy to follow along. One of the most important elements to consider is the irony that is laid out to the reader at the end of the novel. Matheson builds the present story with Neville staking those who are asleep during the day, assuming that he is eliminating the breed that has been taunting him for a very long time. Little does he know he’s killing two different breeds of these vampires: one breed consists of those that have completely been devoured by the disease and another breed that has been able to suppress the disease from spreading making them not a danger to him. He was the last of his kind and he was the danger and the threat to the rest of the new breed of “humans” who they feared at night or in this instance during the day and in turn, he became the legend just like the vampires were all a legend to us.

Reader’s Annotation: The last man on earth is faced evil vampires and he must do all that he can to survive, but will he be able to face the challenging struggles ahead?

Author: Retrieved from the MacMillan Publishers website –

“Richard Matheson is The New York Times bestselling author of I Am Legend, Hell House, Somewhere in Time, The Incredible Shrinking Man, A Stir of Echoes, The Beardless Warriors, The Path, Seven Steps to Midnight, Now You See It…, and What Dreams May Come, among others. He was named a Grand Master of Horror by the World Horror Convention, and received the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement. He has also won the Edgar, the Spur, and the Writer’s Guild awards. In 2010, he was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. In addition to his novels Matheson wrote several screenplays for movies and TV, including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” based on his short story, along with several other Twilight Zone episodes. He was born in New Jersey and raised in Brooklyn, and fought in the infantry in World War II. He earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. Matheson died in June, 2013, at the age of eighty-seven.”

Curriculum Ties:

  • Building societies
  • Pandemics

Booktalking Ideas:

  • Would you be able to accept your fate so easily?
  • How would you go about building a society from scratch?

Challenging Issues:

  • Sexual content
  • Profanity
  • Religious viewpoints
  • Violence

Defensive Maneuvers:

  • I would be sure to study and memorize the library’s collection policy.
  • The Library Bill of Rights must also be brought to the challenger’s attention stating that the library is an information institution that provides both information and ideas.
  • Have both good and bad reviews (from respected sources) about the book at hand.
  • Remember to mention the awards and honors that the item has received.
  • Be sure to listen to the person who is challenging the book and do not interrupt them while they are speaking. Try to understand where the patron is coming from when he or she states their concerns about the material.
  • When you respond to the challenger, have a calm and respectable tone informing them that the library must do all that it can to provide intellectual freedom to its patrons, young and old.

Why This Book? The ironic twist at the very ending had moved me and I can never stop recommending this book to people.


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