Friday, 15 February 2013

The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan

Jacob Marlowe is the last living werewolf.  For two hundred years he has wandered the world, amassing a fortune and murdering humans every full moon.  Now, as the last of his kind, he is a target for WOCOP (World Organisation for the Control of Occult Phenomenon).  Initially, he is willing to be hunted, fed up of a life without attachment and worn down by the mundane routine of everyday life.  But when Jacob realises that he may not be the last living werewolf at all, his eagerness to live returns, even as he is slowly drawn into a trap.

I'm going to be upfront and state that I did not like this book at all.  I thought there was a gem of a story in there but unfortunately it was hidden in the most unnecessarily pretentious writing I've come across in quite some time.  Duncan writes as though he has just ingested a thesaurus and we end up with sentences like this:

"It was getting the primary admission, that we knew what we were, that we had both felt the peace that passeth understanding, that this, now, sex in human form, was the imperfect forerunner, the babbling prophet, mere Baptist to the coming Christ."

That was just a random sentence from a randomly opened page.  They are all like this!  Duncan never writes one word if he can write ten, and each sentence has so many subordinate clauses and commas that reading it becomes quite difficult at times.  And I don't mind challenging writing (I like classics after all), but it seemed so unncessary in this case. Some of the metaphors Duncan uses are bizarre and there's many pages of Jacob complaining about how bored of life he is, full of overly descriptive prose.

It's frustrating as I like the general idea of taking a horror concept and making it more mainstream. It worked for Elizabeth Kostova in The Historian and Matt Haig in The Radleys and the concept here was a good one.  The execution was just lacking.  I didn't mind the violent sex or the strangeness of the ending but the writing was just too big of an obstacle for me to get over.  Too much description and too much philosophy.

On the whole a disappointment.  I don't think I've written a review as negative as this one for quite some time!

Source: Personal copy
First Published: 2011
Score: 1 out of 5

35 comments:

  1. That sentence you've quoted actually made me giggle at its ridiculousness! I guess I'll avoid that one but it's a shame you were disappointed.

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    1. It would have been funny if the whole book wasn't like it! :P

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  2. I felt like that about this book too! I really liked the idea of it, and so many people told me it was great and then it was just so... into itself I guess? Such a letdown!!

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    1. Glad you felt the same, I was wondering if I was just completely missing the point!

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  3. Alas, my take on this book was quite different from yours. I loved the slowness and deliberate pace and Jake's philosophical musings. As for the "pretentious writing," I'm afraid I liked that, too. Ah, well, life is more interesting this way. Vive la difference!

    Sorry you didn't like it, though.

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    1. Vive la difference indeed :)
      I really wanted to like this book, honestly I did...I just couldn't!

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  4. Ah, I had this one on TBR pile, but if the writing style is such as you have exemplified... I think I will skip.

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    1. Some readers have loved the writing style, but it really wasn't for me. You'd be able to tell within the first few chapters.

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  5. I read that highlighted sentence twice and I still don't fully understand what it means. Yikes, if the rest of the book is like that.

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    1. It was like that, it required careful attention!

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  6. So many varying opinions on this one, but everyone agrees that the language is beyond pretentious. Some like that; others don't. I might be in the former category. At least that's what I'm telling myself since this book is already on my shelf!

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    1. Fingers crossed you are in the former category!

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  7. That is quite a sentence! I had to laugh at your description, though. "Duncan writes as though he has just ingested a thesaurus" is pretty funny.

    I wasn't committed to reading this one, but I am interested in reading The Historian. I hope your next read is better for you! :)

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    1. Lindsey, The Historian is wonderful - one of my favourite ever books! Miles better than The Last Werewolf.

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  8. Ugh.. what is that sentence trying to say. Doesn't look like my kind of book - I have very little patience to read books that are purposelessly filled with so many difficult words.

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    1. It's trying to say human sex isn't as good as werewolf sex ;P

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  9. I loved this book! It was one of my favourite books of last year. I've got The Historian and The Radleys on my TBR shelf and am really looking forward to them. Joanne

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    1. I'm glad you appreciated it more than I did! And you are in for a treat with The Historian, it's one of my all-time favourites.

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  10. Count me in the category of people who thought the writing was pretentious but loved the book anyway! It worked for me because it seemed to work for the character of Marlowe. I hated the sequel though.

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    1. I can see that it worked in a way for the character of Marlowe, but it still frustrated me!

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  11. I don't think I could take the writing - the sentence you quoted is just...painful.

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    1. It is - there is such a thing as too many commas...

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  12. This book isn't one I could ever see myself reading, both for the subject and the writing, but I loved your review. Funny and refreshingly honest!

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    1. I am always honest in my reviews but I must admit to being glad that this wasn't a review copy...

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  13. LOL! I couldn't stop laughing at the sentence you have quoted. I don't think I can still understand it. Isn't it so frustrating when we go through bad books?

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    1. It means werewolf sex is better than human sex, the meaning is deeply hidden! At least bad books make us appreciate the good books even more.

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  14. I tried to comment about seventeen times last night from my phone but it just wouldn't go through! Sometimes I really hate google. (it's not the first time I type a very witty comment, click publish, and it goes to some internet neverland

    Anyway, what I was going to say is that it is such a shame because I was looking forward to this book because the premise looked really interesting. The writing sounds awful, though. However, occasionally the writer convinces me to his peculiar writing and once I get into his rhythm after a few pages, I sail just fine, so I might still possibly try it.

    I'm copying this comment before I click publish!

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    1. I will pretend I can see the witty comment!
      The premise is certainly interesting and to a certain extent, it makes sense for the main character to have a 'voice' like that but it was simply too frustrating for me.

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  15. The Last Werewolf was offered as a Kindle Daily Deal a few months ago, so I bought it thinking it sounded interesting. Now it'll probably sit there for quite a while longer! Such a shame.

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    1. Ah well, at least it didn't cost too much if it was a kindle daily deal! I paid almost £5 for my copy...

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  16. What a disappointment! Correct (or fitting) use of language registers is so crucial to writing. That quote just left me speechless...

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    1. I can occasionally overlook writing style, but not to this extent...

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  17. Yep, this one was a DNF for me. I know several trusty bloggers who loved it, but it was just not for me. I have his book, I Lucifer, on my stacks. We'll see if it works out any better.

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  18. God, that sentence is awful! If the whole book is like that I don't know how people managed to finish it. I do know bloggers that have read and loved it, but the writing style may not be up my street.

    A shame considering it's been on my TBR for nearly a year!

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  19. What a disappointment, as your synopsis itself is quite enthralling. I haaaate pretentious writing. That's how I felt about The Elegance of the Hedgehog and it ruined the whole book for me. :(

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