Review and Follow-up on “The Last Werewolf”


UPDATE: 4 AUGUST — Yes! It IS going to be a trilogy!! See this article in USA Today.

 

So, I finished the book this evening when I got home from work.

While standing at the stove, stirring gravy, mind you.

Could not put it down. And I’ve never had much interest in werewolves. Vampires? You betcha. Werewolves were always mindless killing machines. Yawn. Not so, here. I had to know what happened. No spoilers, I promise. ‘Cause I think Dante reserved a circle in Hell for people who publish spoilers. Along with people who talk on their cell phones at the movies. If he didn’t, he should have. I’ll have a word with Satan about it. Anyway… Is it horror? Completely. Lots of blood and guts here. If you could have watched my face while I was reading you would have seen eyebrows raised, smirks, mouth opened in a gasp of surprise. And laughing.

The prose was amazing. IS amazing. Already it is making me take a far more critical eye to my own feeble efforts, although I’m still not sure I’m going to pepper my prose with words like ‘analeptic.’ Then again, why not? Why not make people scurry for the dictionary? Instead of writing for the lowest common denominator, what’s wrong with aiming a little higher? (Glen Duncan would have found a better way to phrase that, it was way too cliche, but I’m two glasses of wine deep here now, so not the best time to strain my brain.) I want to go back through the book and underline and writes notes in the margins and mark passages that I loved and I NEVER DO THAT. In my entire life, I have never marked up a book. Books are sacred. I’ll wait for it to come out in paperback and buy a paperback copy, then I won’t feel so guilty. I think my head would explode if I defaced the lovely hardcover. :::sigh:::

So what did I love? Oh god, the characters. Jake. I’ve never been that far into someone’s head, I’m not sure I’ve been that far into my own head. Give me a Jake in my own life. Do men really have feelings and emotions like that? Is it possible? Maybe it is. As possible as someone being a werewolf. Hey, it could happen, right? And Harley. Everyone should have one friend like Harley. Ellis – Fruit loop, but brilliant. But Jake above all, despite his monthly murder, despite everything, self-aware to the ‘nth’ degree,  dissects humanity with things like this:

Something’s happening to this business of talking about feelings. It’s becoming moribund. The analysand on the Manhattan couch opens his mouth to begin “I feel…” and knows that if he had any decency he’d close it again straight away. Humans are moving into a new phase, one based on the knowledge that talking about their feelings has never got them anywhere. The Demonstrative Age … I shan’t be around to see it. THAT, since I asked the question myself, is how I feel, surer than ever that my clock’s been right all along, that I’ve had enough, that it’s time to go, that I really can’t stand it anymore, the living and the killing and the wandering the world without love.

Phew. It never lets up. Duncan writes as if he’s been around for 200+ years (160 of them as a werewolf) and had the time to think all this through, puzzle it out,  and just now got around to writing it down. There’s an honesty about everything that is uncommon. The reader is completely immersed in Jake’s psyche, and it’s elegant, cerebral, detached, and yet so intimate. I raged at the ending, it wasn’t fair. I wanted to cry, but didn’t. As Harley and  Jake so often remind us, “You love life because that’s all there is.  There’s no God, and that’s His only Commandment.”

He left the ending wide open for a sequel, but sequels don’t seem to be Duncan’s style. I’ll be re-reading this one.

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10 thoughts on “Review and Follow-up on “The Last Werewolf”

  1. I’m going to have to see if my local sci-fi/fantasy store has it. They sell horror too… I actually love werewolf stories…but good ones are hard to find.

    Thanks for the review!

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  2. I think you will find this one unlike any others you’ve read before. Well, to be honest, I haven’t a clue about other werewolf stories, I don’t think I’ve read any others. It’s extraordinary though. Duncan was interviewed on NPR, I need to see if I can find an archived podcast of it or something. If you read it, let me know how you like it.

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  3. Excellent! I’m still obsessing over it. I finally gave up on that steampunk novel I started (less than 100 pages to go and I just can’t stomach it). I think Duncan ruined me for anything less now.

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  4. There is way too many good books out there to waste time on bad books. I’ve abandoned my first book this year, but I suspect I will do that to others in the future.

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  5. I agree. It wasn’t even worth reading the last 100 pages of this other book. My reading time is too precious. I abandoned one other book long ago, and probably should have done so with others.

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  6. I always stop reading if I’m not enjoying something. I’ve never seen the point in forcing myself to finish something. As said, reading time is precious. Also, I figure that I’m not doing the author any favors either. All that will happen is that I have little, or no desire to pick up something by them ever again.

    On the other hand, there have been times I’ve put aside a book, and then sometime in the future I’ve been inclined to try it again. And woolah! It’ll turn out that I’m just in the mood for it.

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  7. Well, that’s very true in this case: I have no desire to read anything by this author again. This is one that would not improve with age, either. It’s the writing that’s painful. The story itself is relatively interesting, but the writing is…well… erm… not good.

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  8. quote / ‘Cause I think Dante reserved a circle in Hell for people who publish spoilers / end quote
    I nearly cried out laughing!

    I will have to pick up some of these books, you have convinved me! Last I read was Dune books years ago

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  9. Heh, glad you liked that 🙂

    Really, “The Last Werewolf” is so beautifully written, I was cradling it and petting it like it was a live thing. Ok, not really, but I could have. It’s been a long time since I was this blown away by a book. Hope you enjoy it!

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