Meet Jake. A bit on the elderly side (he turns 201 in March), but otherwise in the pink of health. The nonstop sex and exercise he’s still getting probably contribute to that, as does his diet: unusual amounts of flesh and blood (at least some from friends and relatives). Jake, of course, is a werewolf, and with the death of his colleague he has now become the only one of his kind. This depresses Jake to the point that he’s been contemplating suicide. Yet there are powerful forces who for very different reasons want - and have the power - to keep Jake alive.
Here is a powerful new version of the werewolf legend - mesmerizing and undeniably sexy, and with moments of violence so elegantly wrought they dazzle rather than repel. But perhaps its most remarkable achievement is to make the reader feel sympathy for a man who can only be described as a monster - and in doing so, remind us what it means to be human.
One of the most original, audacious, and terrifying novels in years.
From the Hardcover edition.
©2011 Robin Sachs (P)2011 Random House Audio
“A brilliantly original thriller, a love story, a witty treatise on male (and female) urges, even an existential musing on what it is to be human. Get one for yourself and one for the Twilight fan in your life.” (James Medd, The Word , UK)
“Space should be cleared for this violent, sexy thriller... The answer to Twilight that adults have been waiting for.” (Courtney Jones, Booklist)
“Yes, there are vampires here... But don’t give this book to Twilight groupies; the frank tone, dark wit, and elegant, sophisticated language will likely do them in... smart, original, and completely absorbing. Highly recommended.” (Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal)
No pretty pony sparkles or virtuous animated corpses here! Rather, a 200 yr. old, sophisticated and philosophical lycanthrope, his glass of scotch, his cigarette, his journal, and the lunar cycle. Our man-wolf Jake matter of factly dismisses the ugly business of a werewolf's dietary needs, and insouciantly describes his sexual habits like National Geopgraphic doing Debbie Does Dallas. What you get is an adult, smart, hilarious, thriller that treats the old-guard monsters with the respect and fear they deserve! Raunchy? Absolutely! Goodness, I blushed... Then I watched my very distinguished Old English bulldog and realized that his narration of his persuit of a noble dog's life would probably read much like impulse-driven Jake's journal. I would accuse Sir Louie of being rudimentary--but never being crude or vulgar. Ethologically speaking, Jake is nonchalant--but he is no licentious lycanthrope! Great to read a very well written, clever "monster" book for adults, and the narration is an absolute treat.
Can a book be both literary and genre? Yes. Can it be both successfully? Yes, see: The Last Werewolf.
I originally heard about this book via an NPR review and it languished on my to-read list for a long while until, when in need of my next book, I reviewed the synopses of the books on my to-read list. This one finally had it's turn to be what I was in the mood for. I loved it from the word go. The Last Werewolf was, for me, a perfect fit between what I was in the mood for and what the book (and the wonderful reader since I listened to this one) delivered. Beginning this book was like slipping into a warm bath mood-lit by aromatherapy candles, perfectly steeped cup of tea in hand. Or whatever your perfect scenario might be. I'll admit that my tranquil depiction makes for a strange juxtaposition with the violence and gore of the book, but such was my satisfaction with starting The Last Werewolf.
For starters, Jake Marlowe is a werewolf. And,I don't mean a Twilight werewolf, running around with no shirt, well-oiled muscles glistening in the sunlight kind of werewolf. He is an ancient, pragmatic, animalistic, savage monster who has no delusions that he is anything else. Glen Duncan wrests the werewolf from the teeny-boppers and the romance novels, and successfully returns him to the horror category. It is Jake's acceptance that he is an evil monster that makes him so unnerving: he is neither an unthinking beast (quite the contrary in fact, since the whole book is filled with his musing and ennui) nor is he in denial of the monstrosity of his true nature. In fact, the frank tone with which Jake describes killing and sex add to the discomfort.
The potential reader should be aware that this book is graphic. I blushed more than once. There is sex in this book, but it is not the sex of romance novels; there are no corsets, or 'throbbing members' here. There are, however, multiple mentions of the c-word. Be forewarned.
A Note on the Audiobook:
I often wonder what I may have missed by listening to the book that I would have gained if I had read a physical book. e.g Would I have enjoyed that passage more if I had re-read it? Not so with this book. I believe that listening to this only enhanced my enjoyment. In fact, I'm not sure I would have enjoyed it at much if I had read a physical copy.
The Dragon Mother
Overall I really enjoyed the story of Jake, the werewolf. He takes you through his life as a werewolf and explains how he is just so tired of it all. You can almost feel sympathy for him. He has been around for about 200 years and ‘been there, done that’ is all he feels is left for him.
There are folks that know about werewolves and like to hunt them down. Jake and his human familiar live for as long as they can in one place, always on the lookout and ready to run if Jake is found by the hunters. Now after 200 years, he is tied of running and thinks it might just be better if he lets the hunters find him.
The men hunting Jake know he is the last werewolf and want to make the hunt something spectacular, so they don’t want Jake to just give up and let himself be captured. But how do you motivate a 200 year old werewolf?
The one big drawback for me was the descriptions of sex in this story. I listen to a lot of paranormal romance stories and have heard sex described in many ways, but I wasn’t ready for the short, crass descriptions of sex with Jake. Sure 200 years probably makes the act itself tedious and redundant, but still.
The Narration Review
Robin Sachs sounds a bit like Vincent Price. He had the perfect voice for Jake, who I pictured as an English aristocrat. I will look forward to hearing him again!
The moment I heard the narrator begin, it was very easy to imagine this very articulate Brit actually being a beast that feasts on human flesh. Perfect intonation for the lead character.
Jake as the lead character is sublime in his seeming hatred of who he really is, yet needing so badly to feel the human touch of love. There is major juxtoposition here, and his dealing with this as an aging antagonist is cool to behold.
Well, this is gross. And, without giving to much away....let's just say Jake's love interest in this book shares the same 'condition' as him. As such, they 'feed' on the same food source. The first time they dine together is both treachery and love at the same time.
At certain times, the book can be extreme. Frankly, I think the description of the sex scenes were more graphic than the horror scenes.
Say something about yourself!
I've been missing the wonderful voice of Robin Sachs since he passed away, which led me to browse the audible section for his works. I always loved his portrayal of Harry Hole from the Jo Nesbo detective series, which is now being narrated by John Lee. He's good, but can't replace Robin Sachs.
The Last Werewolf turned out to be a fantastic choice. A grown-up, sophisticated, story with the slashing and gashing and blood thirsty violence wrapped into a handsome, charming 200 year old werewolf named Jake. This werewolf has standards. He kills only when necessary, and other than that once a month occurrence, leads a pretty ordinary, if wealthy life. His best friend, Harley, is a human!
"It's official," Harley said. "They killed the Berliner two nights ago. You're the last." Then after a pause: "I'm sorry." He deliver's the news to Jake at Harley's place; Jake sipping his 45 yr. old Macallan and smoking a Camel. Jake is tired of living and wants to just give up. He's lonely for other wolf companionship, and he's seen it and done it all.
Harley's arguments --you've got a duty to live, just like the rest of us, and --you love life, because life is all there is, --don't really convince Jake that life is still worth it --but something happens which does convince him. A great twist to the story!
This book has a compelling storyline, interesting characters, wit and humor when you least expect it, and the wonderful narration of Robin Sachs. Not one to miss!
Note: I understand the followup book to this one is not very good; apparently the narrator doesn't do it justice. I'm hoping they re-record it with someone else, as this could be a great continuing series.
I enjoy reading many books genres. But I love listening to fantasy books.
I enjoyed this book. It is dark, but not because of the werewolf angle. The emotional landscape of the book make the werewolf a compelling character. I wanted to know what would happen to him. The story is interesting and takes turns I was not expecting. Definitely not just for fantasy fans.
Extraordinary story. The author builds on traditional werewolf legends to build an urbane and amusing tale. The story is complex, modern and amusing without breaking once from classic werewolf conventions. The performer is perfect for the tale. As the vampire craze was replaced — or complemented — by zombies, so werewolves may be the next wave.
I'll look forward Glen Duncan's next book.
I am a book junkie...I read and enjoy a variety of stories, so please don't "define me" by one book or review! :)
Five-star literature in all aspects...engaging, sophisticated concept, superb writing, spot-on narration which I found character and pitch-perfect throughout. It is quite visceral and carnal (and in more than only a sexual sense) so you just need to be aware that's what you're choosing. "Jake", the main character, is almost as if James Bond had a Lupine, high-functioning AA-dropout brother who possessed sharp intelligence and wry wit but hadn't been handed all the gadgets to aid in his conflicted quest for...survival? That's really all you need to know!
Werewolves like to have sex. Oops I just spoiled the book for you! Seriously, that's all it is. Sex, sex, sex. The "C" words get a lot of use, I've never heard "Male Rooster" so often in such a short time, as well as the "C bomb". Seriously, one or the other would be on every single page of the physical book, I'm willing to bet.
When it got to the point of likening a woman's area to "a feverish baby's mouth" I stopped listening. Like that's an image I want, a male roster and a baby's mouth... That was right at the point it was starting to get into bestiality, so I'm pretty happy with where I stopped. I should've figured it out at the beginning when they mentioned a granddad getting aroused when the grand kids were on his knee. I had a "What the?" moment when I heard that, but the story was interesting at that stage and the reference was fleeting so I forgot about it quickly.
The story line is interesting (for as much of it as there is, think 10% plot/90% dirty novel), the last werewolf deciding whether or not to live or die. There's a hook about the origin of werewolves, but I really couldn't keep listening to it. It would probably turn out to be something like dogs having sex with dead humans, or humans having sex with dead dogs.
If you are into furry-fantasties maybe this'll do it for you. It was one huge Ick-factor for me though.
On a positive the narrator had an excellent voice and did a great job. I'll be looking out for more by him.
Oh, and as far as graphic violence - there isn't a lot, so if you're squeamish about that sort of thing don't worry. He likes to use the word "gobbet" but it's rarely about violence...
If you love Twilight or the adventures of Sookie Stackhouse, this story is probably not for you. It is also quite a step beyond Monsterhunter International (which, BTW, I also loved).
However, this story, certainly gets your attention. It is dark, gory, and fatalistic. And the narator is amazing, once you get into it.
I loved it! 7 stars!
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