I Am Legend is considered a classic in the sci-fi/horror genre, and modern horror authors frequently cite it and its author, Richard Matheson, as an influence on their own writing. This book was written long before the frenzy to publish post-apocalyptic literature was in full-swing. In fact, the novel most likely inspired many of the well-known works of both literature and film that exist today in that style. Matheson’s depiction of Robert Neville as the tragic last man on earth is brutal, heartbreaking, and spooky all at the same time. The setting is grim and suspenseful and the landscape so bleak that any small amount of hope is worth clinging to. The ability of the human spirit to find highs of hope and lows of despair when facing a situation is insightfully explored, as is the question of whether it is really fortunate to survive an apocalypse when no one else does. These heavy questions enhance, rather than detract from, the action of the narrative as Neville struggles to survive in a world populated by him and the undead. The book keeps the reader wondering what will happen next and truly concerned about the eventual fate of the hero right up until the riveting conclusion.
This novel is usually found as part of a larger collection of stories, and those additional stories have not been reviewed.
Profanity/Language: 22 religious exclamations; 22 mild obscenities; 8 religious profanities; 12 derogatory names.
Note: The word “” and variations of the word “” are used in proper religious context (not tallied).
Violence/Gore: Characters threaten one another; character is found with a wound (slight blood) on their throat; an animal has been injured previously; an animal tries to bite a character; report of someone being attacked; corpses are disposed of unceremoniously (2 times); account of children stabbed with wooden stakes; war is mentioned; bodies are burned in a mass grave; character recounts spouse being killed; character cuts their hand on broken glass with blood emphasized; character is dragged by the hair; two characters fight (no major injury); a few references made to drinking blood; a character is bitten (drawing blood); character is bound and tortured (not graphic); characters are shot repeatedly (3 occasions); character is beaten with a wooden mallet; character is chased by people intent on killing him (tense scene, two pages); character returns from the dead (creepy scene); character is dragged from a house, beaten, and shot; a car is destroyed; frequent, minor damage to things such as broken glass, smashed boards, equipment, and household goods; character is impaled; rape is mentioned; character is shot in the face; character’s shoulder is slashed; characters are dragged into the sun to die and/or stabbed with wooden stakes (a few occurrences, with more implied in the past); a character dissolves to dust; character cuts his hand, then forces the wound to bleed more (minimally detailed); character coughs up blood; report of mass deaths by disease.
Sex/Nudity: A character kisses another on the cheek; a woman wears a revealing dress; characters hold hands; characters kiss; lingering description of a man’s bare chest; mention of women’s clothing being off (no description); a woman’s dress is torn, exposing her bra; women strike provocative/lewd poses (no details); a character is distracted by thoughts about figures of the opposite sex on a few occasions (no details are given); sex is briefly mentioned as a thing of the past; two characters hug, stroke each other’s bodies, and snuggle; rape is mentioned.
Mature Subject Matter:
Death of a family member, death of a pet, suicide (considered and implied), plague, mass deaths.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Characters drink wine and liquor; pipes and cigarettes are smoked; a character is an alcoholic; characters take an unspecified drug as a plot element.