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Thursday, November 3, 2011

What I'm Reading: The Last Werewolf

Still on the catch up trail of book reviews.  I read The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan back in September (thank you Shelfari for remembering that).  This book had a lot of hype when it came out.  Click here and here for examples.

I read this book very soon after it came out.  I sought it out because it was being billed as a literary-paranormal hybrid with werewolves. What I got was more of a highly sexualized paranormal romance-mystery hybrid which I thought fell short as a romance, a mystery, and as literary fiction.  And it wasn't scary at all.

I will get the plot and my opinion out of the way first, but then I will move to who this book is for.  Remember, my reviews are from the RA standpoint.  I will let you know my opinion about a book, but that is not the point.  I read every book from 2 perspectives.  1, how I felt about it personally.  2, what type of reader would most enjoy this book.

When you are working with leisure readers, it is important to remember that while you may dislike a book, there is a reader out there who will enjoy it.  Yes, I have the right not to enjoy a title, but my professional goal is to figure out who will like it.  I cannot only read books I like.  That does not help me to help my patrons.

As a rule, most of your readers will want books that differ from the ones you would chose for your own leisure reading anyway. Okay, enough lecturing.  On to the book.

Here is the  plot.  Jake is a 200 year old werewolf.  For some reason (possibly a virus) werewolves have not been able to create new ones for years.  Taking advantage of their zero population growth, a super secret agency is trying to kill all werewolves, and it appears Jake is now the last.  Jake is writing his memoirs and preparing for the next full moon when he will sacrifice himself to end it all.

But wait....a group of vampires is trying to keep Jake alive because he may hold the key to their ability to return to the light, a female werewolf appears, and lots of sex and violence ensue.

In my opinion, this book failed on a few fronts.  First, the werewolf world Duncan builds is based on sex only.  Duncan also tries to make the book scary, but it was too predictable to be frightening.  Back to the the sex; it was over the top and graphic.  Look , I am no prude, but Jake spends most of the book having sex or looking for sex and we get every detail.  I get it; Duncan's werewolves are highly sexual.

This leads to a major problem I have with this book.  I feel like this is a Sherrilynn Kenyon novel written by a man.  Kenyon is decidedly considered genre fiction (paranormal romance) and would never be called literary in the press, not would she get the lead review in EW.  It is frustrating that because this book was written by a man, it is called literary.  Kenyon has been writing more compelling and interesting novels of just this type for much longer, yet Duncan gets all of the mainstream press. Just bothers me.

I would have preferred it if more time was spent on building up the mystery surrounding the virus and the different paranormal factions.  In a paranormal book, the world the author creates needs to be well developed and almost become a character itself.  This did not happen.  Lots of surface was scratched here, but no depth.

Enough of my opinion.  Now on to a more neutral discussion of the appeal here.

Jake is a great example of the anti-hero.  He is brave and sexy, but bad.  When you become a werewolf in this story, you are destined to kill those you most love while you are in your wolf form.  As a result he killed his wife and unborn child 200 years ago and only has sex with prostitutes he hates.  The reader knows Jake can be bad, but also knows he is good at heart.  This is a huge appeal for some readers.

Paranormal romance is HUGE.  The Last Werewolf is a great paranormal romance.  If I read it in that frame of mind, I would have liked it.

Many readers will seek out any novel with a werewolf in it.  Of course, give them this book.

A big issue in this book is that about 2/3 of the way in, the female werewolf becomes the co-star.  So readers who are concerned that the book is told from a male POV should be assured that the female POV takes over by novel's end.

Three Words That Describe This Book: werewolves, paranormal romance, sexually explicit

Readalikes:  If you like Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse books, you will enjoy The Last Werewolf.  Here is a link to my popular Sookie readalikes post for more options.

Ditto, if you like Sherrilynn Kenyon's Dark Hunter books.

Charlie Huston's Joe Pitt paranormal thrillers or Jim Butcher's paranormal Dresden Files are a good example of solid paranormal series written from a male perspective.

If you liked The Discovery of Witches (which I read here), you may not like The Last Werewolf.  TDoW is truly a literary paranormal mystery/romance.  I was pleasantly surprised by TDoW and think it did everything The Last Werewolf's reviews claim it did only much better.  Read my review to see more details.

Finally, in my opinion, Sharp Teeth provides a much better depiction of the modern werewolf.

The slog through the backlog will continue next week, from a more positive pov.

1 comment:

Sarah Elsewhere said...

I agree very much with your review.
However, I wouldn't have thought to recommend this to most fans of paranormal romance because of the SPOILER ending. I do see the connection you're making though.