Monday, August 20, 2012

Book Report Monday: The Last Werewolf

Title: The Last Werewolf

Author: Glen Duncan

Genre: Adult Fantasy

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--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.

(from Goodreads)

Why did I pick it up?: Sometimes books just won't leave you alone. I first added The Last Werewolf to my Goodreads "To Read" list when I saw it on the New York Times' 100 Notable Books of 2011. I kept hearing about it and finally got it from the library.

Favorite Lines:  "There are beautiful women in Manhattan who would have married me on the spot for the charm I had over their mutts."

"Just live in it and let it bring what it brings."

My Review:  I was hooked by the opening scene. It wasn't the devil may care, intelligent, snarky tone of the narrator, Jake Marlowe-werewolf, womanizer, scotch drinker. Though all of that played a part, it was more personal. Jake was relaxing with some fancy booze and a Camel filter while his friend smoked a Gauloises. Fortunately, for my lungs and lifespan, I quit smoking years ago. But while still full of bad habits, I enjoyed both brands.

I started smoking heavily during my semester in Italy because, well do I need to explain? I tried Gauloises because they were recommended by a cute bartender. They're a French brand, not sold in the States. I figured if you're going to smoke, it might as well be French cigarettes and if you're going to have the hots for a bartender, he should be infuriatingly aloof and Dutch.

Marlowe is a werewolf James Bond...who eats people. This isn't a monster with a morally-instituted Vegan diet. Make no mistake about it every month when the moon gets full, Marlowe gets an appetite for a human being. Nothing else can satisfy him. Despite this, I was rooting for him to find his will to go on living another 200 years, to kill and eat thousands of people.

From a fantasy standpoint, it was refreshing to read a werewolf-centric story. Too often they are bit players in  the vampire show.

Duncan walks the line of werewolf mythology pretty closely. He addresses how one becomes a werewolf and the effects of silver and wolfsbane. He makes a few alterations as well. Most notably that a werewolf not only eats people but consumes their life. The description reminded me of vampires who absorb memories of their victims through blood.

After centuries of monthly feasts, he carries thousands of lives with him, giving dual meaning to his pronouncement, "I just don't want any more life."

Recommendation: Not for the faint of heart. Some scenes are as bloody and scandalous as an episode of True Blood. In my opinion, the novel would appeal to non-fantasy readers who enjoy smartly written and/or darkly comic novels.

Next Week: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain


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