It's 1976, and the world's population has been wiped out by an unknown affliction. Robert Neville is the last man alive. Immune to the plague by some trick of fate, he is left alone in the world, with nothing but an unescapable will to continue living.
After dark, the dead population come to stand outside Neville's boarded up home, to taunt and torment him. He keeps them away with garlic, crosses and mirrors, lest they come after his blood. During the day he goes through houses staking the people as they lie comatose in their beds. His nights are sleepless, and his days are bleak and lonely. Eventually he turns to investigating the disease, mainly as something to do, basically teaching himself the biology from scratch, and trying to bring scientific reason to vampirism.
Matheson's writing is really just amazing. For the majority of the book, Neville is entirely alone, just doing whatever is necessary to survive, and the majority of the dialogue is just Nevilles own crazy internal thoughts. And for that to continue for so long, and yet to be the complete opposite of boring.. it was exciting. It's so good in fact, that I read the entire book in one go, and I don't often do that.
I had previously seen the movie (the Will Smith version), which I actually liked very much, don't flame me! But this book of course is quite different. And then someone had explained the plot of the book to me, after I saw the movie, but despite this, I still found so much in the book that was just unexpected.
The one point that I'm left confused on, is whether Neville survived or not, I just can't get my head around it. For those people that have read the ending it might be clear to you. But I just can't get past the fact that this book is the point of view of Neville, it's almost as if he wrote it. And how can he tell a story if he is no longer alive? I would love to ask Matheson if he did it this way on purpose, to make me confused, or whether it's just a writers trick to have his protog tell his story from beyond the grave..
Additional Warning: If reading the new SF Masterworks edition, Do not read the introduction before the book, it's a bit too spoilerific, it would have been better at the end of the book as a review.