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The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan

The Last Werewolf (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Glen Duncan

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943759,227 (3.63)1 / 201
Title:The Last Werewolf
Authors:Glen Duncan
Info:Knopf (2011), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:New, Gift, 21st Century, English, Fantasy, Novel, Werewolf, Meta-Fiction, Paranormal, Horror, Urban Fantasy

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The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan (2011)

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Showing 1-5 of 74 (next | show all)
This novel got a lot of buzz when it was released back in 2011, when I was working in a bookstore, and I recall filing it away on the TBR pile but have only just got around to reading it now. I timed it as my Halloween read, as part of my general pleasure at living in the northern hemisphere where the seasons actually correspond to the dates I subconsciously think they’re “supposed” to, after growing up on European and American culture. Probably this will wear off, but at the moment I’m trying to theme almost all my reading; I can’t imagine how one could bear to read a book set in summer when there’s rain drizzling down the windowpanes and the sun sets at 4pm.

Anyway, The Last Werewolf isn’t really a horror novel. Glen Duncan is more well-known as a literary author, dipping his toe in the pool of genre fiction (see also – Justin Cronin and The Passage), and The Last Werewolf contains more philosophy than frights. Jake Marlowe is the titular last of the kind, two hundred years old, wealthy and world-weary, spending his days as a human guzzling scotch and having sex with expensive escorts, and his full-moon nights as a werewolf killing and eating people. The Last Werewolf doesn’t romanticise this; Jake is a monster and he knows it, and the only reason he remains a relatively likeable character is because Duncan does such a great job of making him such a witty, civilised narrator. Informed of the death of the second-last werewolf at the hands of the Hunt division of WOCOP (the World Organisation for the Control of Occult Phenomena), and the personal vendetta the chief of the Hunt has against him, Jake learns that he has less than a month to live – the hunter wants the beast, not the man, and will wait for the full moon. Tired of life after two centuries of killing (a “concentration camp heap” of victims stretching into his past), he decides to accept his fate and return to Snowdonia, where he was first stricken with lycanthropy in the early 19th century. Of course, there are other things afoot, and Jake is soon embroiled in a globetrotting adventure across Wales, London, France, Greece and the United States, giving The Last Werewolf more than a touch of spy thriller to it. Combined with a weird acronym organisation for an antagonist and Jake’s taste for cigarettes, fine scotch and classy hotels, it’s a borderline James Bond vibe.

I greatly enjoyed the first half of The Last Werewolf. Above all else, Duncan is an excellent writer, sending Jake through wonderfully atmospheric places (snowy London streets, a book-filled Earl’s Court mansion, a peaceful Greek island) while he speaks to the reader in his fantastic narrative style: a sort of baroque Gothic rumination, belying his actual time of birth, which has been modernised and accrued yet more wisdom and cynicism as Jake has grown up through the ages, into the world of mobile phones and the internet. It’s eminently readable and a lot of fun.

It does, however, begin to wear a bit in the second half of the novel, not helped by a plot twist which leads the book to some annoying places. Love at first sight might be technically feasible, within the novel’s horror/fantasy parameters, but that doesn’t make it any less irritating. There’s also a lot of sex and violence; I’m no prude, it’s just that too much of anything gets tedious, much like Jake’s initially fascinating monologues once he starts to cover the same ground in them. And the conclusion is a messy game of cat and mouse, full of abductions and double-crossing, which leans far too heavily into Jason Bourne territory. There are two sequels to The Last Werewolf, and while I would have been open to reading them if I thought they’d reflect the character of the first half, the resolution of the plot makes it pretty clear they’d be more like the second, so I’m not sure I will.

That all sounds fairly negative, but actually I liked The Last Werewolf a lot; I just always find it disappointing when a cracking novel goes downhill. It’s still one of the best books I’ve read this year. If you heard about it when it got all that press upon release but never bothered to read it, I recommend giving it a try; it’s not for everyone, but it’s worth your time to check it out.
1 vote edgeworth | Nov 2, 2014 |
The werewolf novel we have been waiting for! This beautifully written novel brings the reader in to Jake,the last werewolf on year's world. Jake has been around for 200 years when he told that he is the last werewolf. By this point he is tired of leaving and wants to just the organization WOCOP kill him. But i had to feel sorry for Jake when WOCOP kills Harley his friend and insider to the organization. Jake is all ready for the last hurrah of transformation, when while in the airport he meets Talulla and everything changes.

Overall I really enjoyed this book and would highly suggest to anon who loves werewolves. I felt like this book redefined the werewolf genre, and I look forward to reading the next book in the series. ( )
  Hpfan28 | Nov 1, 2014 |
A really interesting take on the werewolf story. Duncan's werewolves are vicious, frightening an inhuman. The way that they eat the lives of the people they kill, and carry them around with them, is a fascinating and beautiful take.

Not for the faint of heart or easily disgusted, however. ( )
  Violetthedwarf | Oct 23, 2014 |
A really interesting take on the werewolf story. Duncan's werewolves are vicious, frightening an inhuman. The way that they eat the lives of the people they kill, and carry them around with them, is a fascinating and beautiful take.

Not for the faint of heart or easily disgusted, however. ( )
  Violetthedwarf | Oct 23, 2014 |
I had a hard time with this book and although I made it to the end it was a work of dedication. However, I am not sure that the more than 7 hours spent reading it were worth the expense. Why I spent so many hours on something I did not enjoy I cannot say except that I tend not to like leaving books unfinished.

The author is very loquacious and at times the language is pretentious. It seems that the author wants the reader to know how cleaver he is using unusual and arcane terms albeit through the voice of the protagonist, a centuries old werewolf. I thought that the protagonist was definitely a product of his time and was very long winded and repetitive in his narrative, which if condensed would have reduced the book by at least half. In striking contrast half way through (the first time something really interesting happens) we meet another player who is modern, fast and straight to the point.

The protagonist was not a likeable chap and his chatty, repetitive prose stifled the story; I wanted to give him a hard slap and yell at him to “get on with it”. What little action there was, was either proceeded or followed by a lengthy and unnecessary narrative from the protagonist.

I have read more horrific books but I don’t think this was meant to be horrific but rather moralistic. But I have only read one other book that made use of a certain derogatory term for part of a females’ anatomy. If the author is so cleaver why oh why didn’t he use another term? In this day and age there really is no need for such vulgarity. It’s as if the author has a thing against women as all the female characters in the book are poorly developed and appear to have no value and this is how he treats them in every regard and during sex specifically. The sex scenes in general leave a lot to be desired and as one other review put it if someone is reading these scenes over your shoulder you really want them to be steamy; at best they were crude and impassionate – much like the rest of the book.

After spending a great deal of time struggling through this book one would expect the final action sequence to be auctioned packed but it was over literally before it started. This was meant to ensure that you were invested enough in the story to read subsequent books; unfortunately for this reader that will not be happening.

This book could have been epic ... instead this reviewer regards it as an epic failure.

Full Disclosure: ARC received from Netgalley for an honest review. ( )
  anuttyquilter | Aug 26, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 74 (next | show all)
It is a horror that never shies from the human side of lycanthropy; it is a disquisition on the nature of werewolf stories; it is a sublime study in literary elegance. It is bloody (and) brilliant.
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For Pete and Eva
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"It's official," Harley said. "They killed the Berliner two nights ago. You're the last."
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307595080, Hardcover)

Then she opened her mouth to scream—and recognised me. It was what I’d been waiting for. She froze. She looked into my eyes. She said, “It’s you.”

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—mesmerising 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.

One of the most original, audacious, and terrifying novels in years.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:21:17 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Rendered the last of his kind after a colleague's death, two-hundred-year-old werewolf Jake struggles with depression and contemplates suicide until powerful forces that have personal agendas and the power to keep him alive take over his life.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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