Traditionally, bookstores categorize various books based on their respective contents – horror, fiction, literature, or science fiction. Horror texts invoke feelings of fear in readers due to their bizarre or macabre content. Science fiction or fiction books describe imaginary concepts of either scientific or general nature respectively. Conversely, literature books comprise of texts that are neither fictional nor horror-based. Matheson’s I am Legend novel thus belongs to the category of horror owing to the ghoulish events described therein.
For example, the vampirism that is evident in the novel instills fear among readers, thus rendering the work a horror literature. Although ‘good’ or ‘bad’ are purely subjective terms, people sometime use these terms to describe different texts. Such categorization relies heavily on persons’ subjective judgment, for example, regarding the emotions that such texts invoke in readers. To illustrate, horror, mystery, or romance books may be termed as ‘bad’. Conversely, science fiction books are labeled as ‘good’.
Since such classification is very subjective and unstable owing to persons’ varied preferences and views, there is essentially no entire class of books that can be categorically termed as either ‘bad’ or ‘good’. After studying Matheson’s I am Legend novel, I cannot help but view it as a subjectively ‘bad’ book based on the ghastly scenes that the author describes. For example, Robert Neville – the novel’s main character – is consistently described as being engaged in a futile rush to beat some seemingly insurmountable bigger forces.
The character is thus clearly destined for death as is evident through his obviously futile attempts to fight against a vampire curse on earth. Eventually, Neville dies a sad and regretful death after spending a great deal of his time trying to outdo the evil that lurks on the earth. Through the somewhat unnecessary and martyr-like death of Neville, the author makes the book appear as a ‘bad’ one because a character is unjustly punished by death.