The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan
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Cannonball Read V: The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan

By ExUSA | Book Reviews | July 19, 2013 | Comments ()


Have you ever been to a party that looks great on paper, only to get there and be saddled talking to that guy? He will insist on rhapsodizing poetically on mundane things only he would find interesting or profound, and keep you from doing what you really want to do—get your drink on. Welcome to The Last Werewolf.

Jacob Marlowe is the last werewolf in existence. All other werewolves have been hunted to extinction by the World Organization for the Control of Occult Phenomena (WOCOP). Their lead hunter, Garnier, is looking for a final show down, Inigo Montoya style, after Were-Marlowe killed his father 40 years ago. However, he wants the wolf not the man, and will wait until the next full moon for his confrontation. Marlowe, after 200 years of living, killing, and copulating (werewolves are notoriously horny) is over it all, and ready to die. After all, it’s lonely being the last werewolf in existence, especially when it’s been a nonstop sausage fest, as the lady werewolves have gone the way of the Ent wives. No one knows where they are, if they ever existed at all. So what’s a lonely, nihilistic, world weary werewolf to do when he’s ready to die at the next full moon? If you said have many graphic sexual encounters with a prostitute, you’d be correct! However, not all is what is appears to be, and Marlowe is about to find out there are many interested parties who are interested in his life.

Here’s the thing about The Last Werewolf, it’s a very good premise, with a very pedantic and mild-to-moderate misogynistic execution. I found myself rolling my eyes and skipping paragraphs of expositional prose while Marlow went on and on about the human condition while he pensively sipped his scotch and smoked his cigarettes. Oh brother. I get it, he’s 200 years old, he’s killed thousands remorselessly, but he says the same cynical narcissistic platitudes over and over. For me, Duncan broke the cardinal rule of storytelling- show, don’t tell. What could have been a very tight and interesting narrative gets bogged down by Marlowe’s incessant lectures and sly observations. Duncan seems very keen for us to get that Marlowe is smart(!) however, instead of showing us that, he lets Marlowe tell us he’s smart… A lot.

Additionally, characters in this book do not talk the way we mere mortals do, which I suppose is to let you know they’re smart and deep too. For me they just come off like the guy at the party who will make a point of asking everyone if the food is organic and vegan, and you just want to look at him dead-eyed and tell him it’s a (delicious) Costco party platter. Of course it’s not.

What bothered me more than pretentious characters, is the almost comical overuse of the word “c*nt”. No kidding, saying it was used 50 times in a 345 page book is a very conservative estimate. Every time a woman’s genitals were mentioned (which was frequently) there it was again. I’m not a prude, but when you couple this with every time a female character is introduced, we’re given a graphic description of her breasts, you can’t help but call shenanigans.

I wanted to like The Last Werewolf, I really did, but Duncan made it so hard for me. This is a grittier, more explicit and less fun version of the world Charlaine Harris created in her Sookie Stackhouse series. Think Twilight for the New York Times crowd.

This review is part of the volunteer Cannonball Read V. Read all about it , and find more of ExUSA’s reviews on the group blog.

(Note: Any revenue generated from purchases made through the affiliate links in this review will be donated in entirety to the American Cancer Society.)

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Cazadora

    Yeah, this was one of those that I liked for the first 75 pages or so and then had to hate read to finish it. And for all the reasons that you mention, plus the remorseless killing just finally got to me. There's not a speck of redemption in the narrative.

  • ExUSA

    ...and the death scenes were just graphically disgusting, too. I mean I get writing about eating entrails *once* for shock value, but describing it EVERYTIME he ate?

  • Cazadora

    I know. This is the first I can ever recall reading a book that I knew had a sequel and NOT CARING.

  • marya

    Dude! I love this review. I will never read this book, but I love a well-written and thoughtful evisceration. Nice.

  • ExUSA

    Thank you! I like to think the sheer mediocrity of this book helped inspire the level of bitchery.

  • This review makes me feel so much better. I've been trying to get into this book because it seems like it should be awesome - what a fantastic setup! But instead I'm bored and annoyed. I've been sticking with it figuring there was probably a big payoff at some point. But based on your review I'm going to ditch out and move on to some fun summer reading. Cuz it's too damn hot to read any more "sly observations on the human condition."

  • ExUSA

    You're smarter than I was, I slogged through the entire thing and there was no payoff to be had. You'd think it would be a fun trashy summer book, not something your tries-too-hard philosophy teacher tells you to read to inspire you to think big thoughts.

  • TheOriginalMRod

    Wow... and I was thinking from the artwork that it was a children's book.

    That sounds horrible... and will probably be the next 50 shades... ugh.

  • ExUSA

    I did too! For the first thirty pages I kept waiting for a vampire-with-a-soul-and-emo-haircut to rock up and show the path to redemption!

  • jennp421

    I couldn't even get through this author's other novel, "I, Lucifer" - like you said about this one, great premise, super pretentious narrator voice. Lucifer boozing it up should have been fun, not painful.
    Good review!

  • ExUSA

    Thank you! I kept on waiting for the book to get fun, but that just never happened. I can only imagine how the next books in the series went.

  • LoudVal

    Totally agree, in reverse (i got through I, Lucifer, but just couldn't finish Last Werewolf for the same reason above).

  • Me too! That book had such intriguing plot concepts and I so wanted it to be good. Alas, instead of a novel companion to Neil Gaiman's Lucifer, all I got was self-important navel-gazing devoid of the kind of dark frothy fun I wanted. My boyfriend at the time insisted up and down that it was brilliant and prodded me to read it. I should've known this was a red flag.

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