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160 pages, Paperback
First published July 1, 1954
Robert Neville, as you may already know from the countless cinematic adaptations of the story, seems to be a sole survivor of a vampirism-like pandemic. (The old-fashioned burn-in-the-sunlight stake-through-the-heart vampirism, none of that newfangled emo sparkliness.) Neville stakes vampires by day, and researches the cause of the plague in his spare time. The long segments of the story are devoted to the relentless monotony of his scientific pursuit of the vampirism mystery - which he does figure out, by the way. And it's quite neat.
The story of the lone righteous hero, the brave vampire hunter has a sure guaranteed readers' appeal (I, for instance, adore Stephen King's Salem's Lot). Matheson, however, brilliantly decides to take the road less traveled and turns the legend on its head. He introduces an unexpected perspective that forces the protagonist and the reader look at things in a new - and shocking - light. After all, the line between a hero and a horror is very thin, and usually very subjectively drawn.