One-sentence summary: A plague turns everyone on Earth into vampires except for one man.
Vampire lovers, reclaim the night! Throw off the chains of shitty YA romances, cast off your sparkly blinders, and see these creatures for what they really are: literary representations of humanity's oldest fears. Start with the original vampire apocalypse, Richard Matheson's I Am Legend.
One of the most influential vampire novels of the 20th century, I Am Legend regularly appears on the "10 Best" lists of numerous critical studies of the horror genre. As Richard Matheson's third novel, it was first marketed as science fiction (for although written in 1954, the story takes place in a future 1976). A terrible plague has decimated the world, and those who were unfortunate enough to survive have been transformed into blood-thirsty creatures of the night. Except, that is, for Robert Neville. He alone appears to be immune to this disease, but the grim irony is that now he is the outsider. He is the legendary monster who must be destroyed because he is different from everyone else. Employing a stark, almost documentary style, Richard Matheson was one of the first writers to convince us that the undead can lurk in a local supermarket freezer as well as a remote Gothic castle. His influence on a generation of bestselling authors--including Stephen King and Dean Koontz--who first read him in their youth is, well, legendary.
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Verdict: This is a classic for good reason. It's a quick and entertaining read that tells far more story in far fewer pages than its imitators. Anyone who likes science fiction, horror, or vampires should read it.