Book Review: The Last Werewolf

The Last Werewolf (Bloodlines Trilogy #1)

by Glen Duncan

Published 2011 by Random House Audio

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Meet Jake. A bit on the elderly side (he turns 201 in March), but you’d never suspect it. Nonstop sex and exercise will do that for you—and a diet with lots of animal protein. Jake is a werewolf, and after the unfortunate and violent death of his one contemporary, he is now the last of his species. Although he is physically healthy, Jake is deeply distraught and lonely.

Jake’s depression has carried him to the point where he is actually contemplating suicide—even if it means terminating a legend thousands of years old. It would seem to be easy enough for him to end everything. But for very different reasons there are two dangerous groups pursuing him who will stop at nothing to keep him alive.

Here is a powerful, definitive new version of the werewolf legend—mesmerizing and incredibly sexy. In Jake, Glen Duncan has given us a werewolf for the twenty-first century—a man whose deeds can only be described as monstrous but who is in some magical way deeply human.

My Review:

I enjoyed listening to this book. The deep throaty voice of the narrator, Robin Sachs, brought out the character of Jacob, the werewolf. Unfortunately his American accent wasn’t all that great and some of the other characters seemed silly when they definitely should not have. Also, his voice was much too tenor to narrate a woman, but he gave it a valiant effort.

Duncan is certainly insightful towards metaphors. I truly enjoyed many of the figures of speech although some made me cringe; others made me shake my head. They just weren’t a good fit. Unfortunately I don’t have the text to draw back on, so I can’t recite any. I will say one thing, even for the metaphors that didn’t quite fit. Duncan (perhaps with the husky voice of Sachs) made valiant efforts and managed to make everything seem poetic. Speaking of poetic, the descriptive narrative gave the story major appeal. Even though some description of scenes was downright horrifying. I guess that’s to be expected in a story about monsters.

There was a lot of back-and-forth in this book. And yes, that is double entendre. First, there’s a tangle of people to keep straight and to remember who wants Jake dead vs. who wants him alive. It can be difficult to keep straight in some of the chaos, so stay sharp. But of course there is also quite a bit of sex. Not that it drives the plot in any way. Nor does it really seem all that useful towards the story at all. It’s not romantic, although you get the sense you’re supposed to believe it is. I wouldn’t call this book “steamy”, which is good since I prefer it that way, but if the romance is your thing, I wouldn’t recommend this read.

This one is graphic actually. Duncan never shied away from his imagination. Every gory detail is laid out – from the intimacies of sex to the gore of the kill, often awkwardly in the same paragraph. Speaking of killing, it happens often and quite casually. I suppose 200 years of being a werewolf can have that effect. The premise of this story is Jakes acceptance of his monster, even his delight in it. It’s raw with human emotion and detachment. Before you can feel anything, it get brushed away. While reading, I wish there had been a deeper emotional connection to Jake, but the dismissal of emotion made it difficult to feel sorry or hopeful for him.

I thought the story was paved very well. There were moments when I was completely lost for what was happening which is partly due to my distractions while listening. Still I think it was difficult to catch back up since roles changed and characters were constantly invading the story of Jakes life. I can’t be blamed for getting it backwards once or twice. I do wish there had been less secondary characters, but I’ll allow that it was important to build the chaos this novel thrives on.

Oddly, Duncan liked to compare his story to what might happen “in the movies”. This is all fine and well but the story actually was laid out like film at its moments, which for lack of imagination, the author simply described it’s coincidence as being like film. Unless, of course, it was conveniently unlike film. The whole theme was loosely paired with the events of the story and didn’t follow any recognizable pattern.

I think a part of me wanted to like this book more than I actually did. The prose was so tempting. Duncan knows how to craft words so they flow beautifully. However, the meaning was often too shallow or confusing to appreciate deeper. I liked the gore, but wish the sex and romance had been left out as they were fairly useless throughout the story anyway. However, the ending was very good. I was getting bored and worried I would be tempted to not finishing the book, just when the twist of the story came and led to an epic ending for the novel.
3 Stars

I choose to give The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan a 3 out of 5 stars.

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