Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Last Werewolf: Review

Sample his stellar prose here (Amazon's
'look inside' feature).
Back in the day, when I lived on a Sioux reservation, "moon time" referred to the days when a woman retired to a special space, ate off special dishes, enjoyed conversation with other women, and simply relaxed and reflected on life until her period ended.  It was a time to honor her connection to the creative and to nature's own cycles, or so it seemed.

"Moon time" for The Last Werewolf is something entirely different.  In fact, it's every bit "The Curse".

Bottom line on this book:  It's one rip-roaring, every-time-a-bull's-eye, can't-put-it-down, gasping and guffawing within the same minute sort of book.  And those don't come around very often.

I admired this novel, one of the tautest suspense/thriller novels I've read in years (yeh, James Patterson, Messrs. Preston and Child, all you trendy Nordic types: this guy Glen Duncan schooled you, and then some) and yet also one of the most existentially intriguing:

What would you do if you knew you'd live pretty much forever, but every time the moon reached its fullest, you'd kill another person, and you couldn't help but - in some wulfy ways - enjoy it?  And what if the nature of your transformation kept you perennially young and - shall we say? - virile (and then some)?  And if you were the last werewolf, the only one left, what then?

And then, what if you liked to read?  What if your life wasn't all about waiting for the wulf, but if in your free time between moons you tried your best to atone for your (albeit uncontrollable) actions by doing good in the world, by seeking answers to the most profoundly perplexing questions of human nature?  And what if you remembered not only every detail of your own life, but most of the details of most of the lives of all of your victims?  What then?

Pretty heady stuff, and altogether enthralling for me.  To be sure, if Duncan wasn't such a stellar prose stylist, conjuring grin after grin at his smart constructions, perfect pacing, and sly allusions, I might not have fallen under The Last Werewolf's spell.  But I fell.  Indeed I did.

HOWEVER.  This book won't be for everyone: as one blogger pal noted, the sex scenes especially can feel, at times, egregious.  And graphic.  And there's violence too, but for me that worked in its context. (If you've read What She Read for long, you'll know that I'm not inclined to enjoy any sort of violence.  Here though, it served purposes psychological and thematic and wasn't quite as graphic as the sex, so I could accept it on its own terms.)

So, if you can handle the sometimes overly-explicit moments (the sex or the violence, depending on your mood or preferences), or if you can swallow them whole, The Last Werewolf is one satisfying story.



As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

Excellent review, my dear. Excellent review. But wait--you lived on a Sioux reservation for a while? I think this is the first I've heard of it.

"Reader, I ate him" was, I think, my favorite short line in the whole book.

The sequel is out this year and I'm looking forward to it, but alas, the author won't be at winter institute next week. My loss. 'Cause starting book #2 whilst in New Orleans would be a fine, fine thing.

couchpotatocritic said...

I liked the existentialism more than the violence/sex. An interesting juxtaposition between man and monster.

Still won't be picking up the sequel, though. :p

Glad you enjoyed it!

LBC said...

I've seen so many enthusiastic reviews of this in both the "I love it!" and "I hate it!" directions. There must really be something there. Your review gave me a better idea of why I might be among the liking it.

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