Audiobook Review: The Last Werewolf, by Glen Duncan

My, but Glen Duncan can write. The Last Werewolf is a testament to that skill, with sentences that dazzle and a storyline that captivates and just enough imagination to make us stop and reconsider if certain things--like werewolves--are really so impossible, after all.

The novel, narrated on audio by Robin Sachs, centers on Jacob Marlowe, who learns early in the book that after centuries of flight from those hunting him and his kind, he is, in fact, the last remaining werewolf. Unfortunately, his pursuers realize it as well--and also realize that they have worked themselves out of a job in the most fundamental way possible. Without werewolves, there can be no werewolf hunters.

From this foundation emerges a complex, gruesome tale of loneliness and death and killing and independence, as we dive into Jacob Marlowe's past and present and longed-for future. Marlowe is not exactly a sympathetic character, but Duncan's storytelling is so complete that the novel works even if we aren't exactly rooting for the protagonist. Or quite against him either.

All sounds good, right?

Wrong. Unfortunately, Duncan seems to know that he can write (see opening sentence), and as a result, often gets in the way of his own story. Constant contrasts between Marlowe's tale and what would happen in the Hollywood version are witty at first, but begin to dull after overuse. A few coincidences early on we can forgive, because, after all, this is a novel about werewolves walking around in modern-day London, but when the entire story seems to rest on unbelievable turns of events, we start to lose faith in the concept as well as the plot.

And the sex. Oh my. I don't mind a little hanky panky in my novels, no sir, but after a while the graphic and often violent sex scenes served little purpose other than to shock, and after that, just felt gratuitous.

And so, on a scale of one to five:

5 stars for imagination, wit, humor, and a well-conceived story idea.
3 stars for too many coincidences and unbelievable plot points.
1 star for the overuse of the word "anus".

Summation: I'm not good at math, but somewhere around 3 stars, I think. A good choice on audio, as Robin Sachs embodies Jacob Marlowe's first-person narration near perfectly; his crooning British accent doesn't hurt either (plus it's fun to hear him speak "American" for certain characters, when required).


The Last Werewolf | Glen Duncan, nar. Robin Sachs | Audio CD | July 2011 | Buy from an independent near you

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