Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan

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 the 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 21st century--a man whose deeds can only be described as monstrous but who is in some magical way deeply human.

One of the most original, audacious and terrifying novels in years.
(A.A Knopf publisher)

The Last Werewolf  by Glen Duncan is being hailed as a new take on the age-old myth.  And new it is, and while the subject matter is ancient, the treatment of it is definitely original, as the dust jacket claims, and audacious (shockingly so at times), and certainly terrifying.  And the vampires involved--yes, where there are wolves there are vamps--are not the irrestibly sexy creatures they're portrayed as is in every other book out there. However, that could have something to do with the fact that the story is told from the perspective of Jacob Marlowe,  a 200 year old werewolf, who is overcome with nausea when in the presence of a vampire. But vampires play a very secondary role in this werewolf story. This very, very wolfish tale.

Was this novel engaging? Yes. Was it thrilling? Yes.  Did I empathize with Jacob, the murderous werewolf protagonist? Yes. Am I left today after finishing it with the sensation that I just spent a few days with a genuine werewolf, privy to all of his most private thoughts and cognizant of all his hideous deeds? Yes, yes and yes!
But. But. But...I think one of the reasons why I was disappointed with this novel was the constant use of the "c" word. I get that the narrator is a 200 year old male werewolf who, even while in human form, has something of the wolf lurking underneath so perhaps this language lends to the character.  Actually, maybe I'm not even realizing how much his language developed and made his character believable and authentic.  But wouldn't something of the well-bred English gentleman that Jacob Marlowe was still be in there somewhere?  But maybe I'm just not getting it.  Maybe it's like Mark Twain's use of the "n" word. 
 I just got a little tired of it with every sex scene, and of those there are plenty so if you're not into that in your books--this is definitely not the book for you. 

All this c stuff, and my disappointment aside, I think this novel is worth reading.  I think Jacob Marlowe's diary, which is what it is, has something important to say. And I think it's interesting to see just how much we are willing to identify with, and forgive or at least overlook the heinous crimes of the beast when we accept that he is just doing what he must to survive in a very lonely world.


  1. It's odd how whenever there's supernatural creatures, sex is always present. It would be more interesting to have a werewolf who abstained just for the sake of being tired of it all. And I agree. Constant use of the c word is a definite stop-reader for me, and it's one of the few words I honestly can't stand to hear or see. I probably wouldn't read this, regardless of how good it is.

  2. Hi Marlena,
    Yes, the c word really did turn me off from this book, even though there were parts I enjoyed. The ending seems to have set it up for a sequel. Not sure if I will read it. I guess I'll see how I feel about it when the time comes.

  3. This is pretty much in line with what I've heard about this book from my library patrons, too. Not quite the hit that it was presented as, and a bit strongly-languaged to boot. That recurrent c-word would get to me, too. It's one of the strongest curse words we have left, in my opinion, and should be used (if you're so inclined at all) sparingly so as to retrain its strength. Repeating it in print would make me a little nuts.

  4. Yes,that's what I think happened. It lost it's strength and was just grossly overused.