Recommendation: Great voice-over in this audio book coupled with a solid story. Characterization is a tad off, especially with the character introduced at the end, but it’s a fun book overall and will be greatly enjoyed by anyone on a werewolf/vampire/fantasy kick.
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I know this is going to shock you, but The Last Werewolf is a book about Jake, who is the last werewolf alive. Sometimes it’s nice to have an author just be direct. In Duncan’s take on the werewolf myth, werewolves have been around for thousands of years but have recently started to die out. An invisible, monster virus has made them infertile and no new werewolves have been born in recent memory. With their lack of progeny, numbers have been on the decline, but with the help of a secret government organization created to limit the werewolf’s numbers it’s been more like a free fall. Jake has been around for a couple hundred years and watching his numbers dwindle has left him rather jaded and ready to meet his own demise. But there is one secret Jake hasn’t been privy to, and it’s the one secret that might reinvigorate his passion for life.
Best thing about this audio book is definitely the narration. Robin Sachs reads this superbly, providing a deep growling voice to Jake that perfectly morphs into a terrifying roar of words when the full moon comes out. The thing that most bothers me about the typical pop-version of the werewolf/vampire stories (that means you, Twilight) is their general lack of intensity. Werewolves and Vampires are supposed to be brutal, visceral creatures; that’s why they’ve been frightening for hundreds of years. So, it’s nice that a modern book finally grasps that and, subsequently, that the audio book gives it an additional punch.
The plot is a little dodgy at first, but considering that Jake has basically lost the will to live, that makes sense. There is only so much danger and enthusiasm you can inject into a story when your main character just doesn’t give a hoot. But as the stakes are slowly raised and the full picture comes into focus the book really ramps up and will have you at the edge of seat. Jake is a surprisingly well drawn character and, even though he is a murderous werewolf who is pretty unapologetic about the horrors he commits, you can’t help but feel for him, relate to him, and root for him to win.
The one place where I think Duncan took an obvious misstep is when he shifts perspectives. Most of the book is narrated through Jake’s eyes, but there are a few chapters that use a different narrator and they fall on their face. I won’t ruin anything by telling you who is narrating and why, but there was very little difference between Jake’s voice and that of our mystery character. It’s especially silly since Jake is a werewolf who has been alive through hundreds of years and uses some outmoded language. You would never expect another character to use the same tone or phrases when they don’t share the same experiences and have not had an unnaturally long life. Just because Jake is a solid character doesn’t mean you can use him twice and I wish Duncan had put a little more effort into creating a new voice to go along with our new narrator. But that mistake is far from a death blow. On the whole the book is entertaining, interesting, and solidly written (not to mention superbly read), so if you’re not sick of werewolves appearing in your stories than I’d suggest you give this book a listen.