#365 ~ The Last Werewolf

The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan

Published by: Knopf Doubleday

Published on: July 2011

Page Count: 304

Genre: Paranormal Fiction

My Reading Format: Audiobook purchased using credits at Audible.com.

Audiobook Published by: Random House Audio

Narrator: Robin Sachs

Audiobook Length: 11 hours 37 minutes

Available Formats: Hardcover, eBook and Audiobook

Note: This novel contains a great deal of graphic sex and violence. May not be suitable for all readers.

My Review

Jake Marlow is the last werewolf left on earth. A group of paranormal hunters have been targeting werewolves for quite some time. Jake, at 200 years old, is tired of his life. He greets the news with resignation. He is ready to be done with living his life. Even the sex, as plentiful as ever, has grown old. His last wish is to set down his story so that the truth of his life and his experiences as a werewolf are preserved.

There was plenty of pre-release buzz about The Last Werewolf on Twitter. It seemed like everywhere I turned people were raving about the story and Glen Duncan’s writing. When my tweep @xesands suggested that we pick up the audiobook and listen together, I gladly jumped on board. Paranormal fiction isn’t generally my thing, but I was swept up in the hype.

Sometimes it is a wonderful experience to break out of my reading preferences and try something new or out of the ordinary. Other times, not so much. Unfortunately, this is the case with The Last Werewolf. I thought Glen Duncan’s writing was beautiful in places, but that was overshadowed by the overabundance of self-absorbed inner dialog and graphic sex. I understand that the man had 200 years of life to ponder, but after a while it felt repetitive and grew boring. I normally enjoy a little spice in my fiction, but this was so raw that it nauseated me. When it came to sex, Jake needed a release of his animal lust very often. After the first first encounter, allusions would have gone a good way. With each new vulgar reference and act, I felt like I was turning into a prude before my very eyes.  I discussed this with others who were also reading and Jill from Rhapsody in Books sent me a link. It was to an interview with the author that shed a great deal of light on the book, especially the last two questions. This isn’t to say that I didn’t like  this book at all. There were some interesting plot twists and events that would reinvigorate me along the way. Unfortunately, when the book was beginning to capture me, another the story would eventually return to Marlow’s cynical insight or sexual proclivities.

There is  one thing that I absolutely adored about this book – the narrator. Were it not for Robin Sachs, I wouldn’t have made it past the first third of the novel. He was Jake to me. So often I felt as though he was sitting in the car with me explaining his life. All that was missing was the cigarette smoke. In that way it very much reminded me of the expert way in which Michael Kitchens narrated The End of the Affair. It will always amaze me how narrators can read such difficult material naturally and with just the perfect tone and inflection. Robin Sachs was more than a match for this material. If  for no other reason, I’m glad I picked this audiobook so that I could be formally introduced  to Sachs. His work was worth every cringe. A narrator who could keep me listening to The Last Werewolf is among the most talented narrators are out there.

The Last Werewolf will be a memorable read in that it turned my stomach more than any book I’ve read in quite some time and for introducing me to Robin Sachs. It is the first in a trilogy, but I have no plans to continue, even if Sachs continues to narrate. Regardless of the dull, repetitive inner dialog and nauseating sexual content, this experience confirmed for me that paranormal fiction just doesn’t capture my imagination the way it does for others. This may change over time, but I’m satisfied with simply giving Glen Duncan’s book a try. I neither recommend nor discourage this book. If you have read it or do read it, I’d be interested in hearing what you think.

I’m posting this review today to participate in Jen at Devourer of Books‘ weekly Sound Bytes meme. If you have an audiobook review to post, why not participate with us?


  • At 2011.09.02 00:33, Carrie K. said:

    I tried to listen to this one, and as much as I absolutely loved Robin Sachs’ narration, I gave up after the first sex scene. I had read a couple of reviews that mentioned that there was sex throughout, and I knew after the first one that they would be too much for me. I will definitely look for more books read by Sachs, though!

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    • At 2011.09.02 00:35, Cassandra said:

      I keep seeing copies of this one in bookstores around town, but I’ve resisted so far. I almost gave in while I was in Borders the other day. I’m really torn about whether or not I will like it. The reviews have not convinced me. Maybe I’ll do the audio. I’m interested in this narrator.

      • At 2011.09.02 07:09, Sandy said:

        Good Lord, the hype on this book! I got all worked up in a lather, got the audio from the library, and it is now sitting on my iPod. I do love Robin Sachs. Did you know he also narrated Nesbo’s The Snowman? Which I just loaded as well? Decisions, decisions. I will keep my expectations in check on this one.

        • At 2011.09.02 08:35, Chrisbookarama said:

          “I felt like I was turning into a prude before my very eyes” lol! That’s exactly how I felt. I’m usually pretty good at dealing with that stuff when I read but this was over the top. I think Duncan tests a reader: how much can they take?

          Robin Sachs did a great job though. He has a perfect raspy voice.

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          • At 2011.09.02 09:22, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

            I’ve been trying to step out of my comfort zone a little more this year and have discovered some surprisingly good reads that way. I have a feeling I’d feel the same way as you on this one, so I’ll probably skip it.

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            • At 2011.09.02 10:23, rhapsodyinbooks said:

              I actually liked this book, even though it was a little “bestial” ! :–) I didn’t really think the sex was gratuitous, and actually thought it was metaphorical (until I read that interview however! LOL) have my review up on this coming Sunday.

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              • At 2011.09.02 10:39, Lauren said:

                I love Robin Sachs. That said, I really appreciate your review – this is the kind of book I might get on audio for the reader, but based of on your frank response, I think I’ll skip this one

                • At 2011.09.02 11:45, Kailana said:

                  I am rather curious about this book, but I haven’t actually picked up a copy yet. I know that the library has it and it would work for this time of the years, so maybe I should check it out…

                  • At 2011.09.02 12:05, Jennifer said:

                    Thanks for all of your responses. I think this book is going to fall into more of a love/hate category. I can’t quite say I hate this book, but I couldn’t get past the graphic sex. That being said, I hadn’t thought of it as metaphorically, though. It turned my stomach too much to go deeper into it (no pun intended).

                    • At 2011.09.02 12:38, Jen - Devourer of Books said:

                      Is it bad that I’m sort of glad you didn’t love it? I need to read it soon, and I definitely needed it taken down a peg or two after all the proclamations of love and adoration.

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                      • At 2011.09.03 10:34, S. Krishna said:

                        I didn’t love this one either. I got bored with Jake’s constant self-indulgent narration.

                        • At 2011.09.03 11:42, dogearedcopy said:

                          I read this in the eBook format and I wondered afterwards if I wouldn’t have loved it more if I had had the hard copy with its red gilt edges or; the audio with Robin Sachs narrating. My 2¢: An exposition of the existential crises of a werewolf. A very Nietzschean take with explicit sex and violence [which actually didn’t affect me,] the action lines in this novel are very Hollywood. I probably would have thought better of this novel if I wasn’t experiencing a bit of paranormal fatigue or; maybe it’s just the book’s pretentiousness? It tried my patience but, that said, I might pick up the next book.

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                            • At 2011.10.06 15:07, Jenn said:

                              I read this in ebook format. Man, did it ever take effort for me to slog my way to the end of this book. First of all, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the “c” word used so many times in one piece of writing before, so I think Glen Duncan deserves recognition for that at least. And I do admire his obvious mastery of language. He certainly knows how to throw the big words around and make beautiful prose. But the constant inner musings of the main character grow tiresome, and honestly there was nothing about this book that really got me excited, or even more than remotely interested. My interest came simply from the hype–I thought… it must be going somewhere great… there’s so much buzz… but then I got to the end and just felt ambivalent. It was like I had struggled through all the unnecessarily graphic sexual stuff, just to get to the end and go, “Meh?” Truly a disappointment for me–I am a big fan of paranormal fiction when it is done well.

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