Though I’m not the most avid enthusiast of audiobooks, I’ve recently become more enamored of them and have started to seek out more and varied titles to be explored in audio. Part of this is due to Sandy’s influence, as she’s always directing me to the best books as well as ones I might be better off avoiding. We had hoped to listen to this book on our trip to SIBA but instead got caught up in chatting, so I grabbed this book for myself when we got back and began to listen. What I found was a very strange amalgam of the reflections of a man given over to his basest desires and his eventual struggle to come to terms with them. This audiobook was narrated by the very vocally talented Robin Sachs: a man whose voice thrummed with passion and melancholy with equal fervor. He was the perfect choice to tell Jacob’s story.
The first thing I have to mention is that the book was extremely graphic, and not only in the ways you might expect. As Duncan goes to great lengths to explain, his version of the werewolf is a *very* sexual being. This translated into Jacob’s reflections having the vague tint of pornography at times. My first forays had me a little uncomfortable, for although I’m not really a prude, these bits of sex were extraordinarily detailed. And there were a lot of them. When Jacob wasn’t pondering his predicament of being half man and half wolf, he spent a lot of time satisfying his raging libido. Sex to this creature seemed almost like a compulsion, and like a compulsion, he thought about it incessantly and tinged and tied every remembrance of his life towards some sort of sexual escapade. It may sound as if this was sexy, but to me, it was not. After awhile it became a bit overwhelming and some of his reflections had me rolling my eyes and wishing that Duncan would just get on with it.
Most of the story was centered on Jacob’s perpetual inklings of what it meant to be human and what it meant to be the perversity of nature that he now was. Not only was he literally a monster, because he was the last of his kind, he was lonely in a way that most of us can’t comprehend. There was singularity in both his forms, and to Jacob, life was more of an annoyance to be suffered through than a marvelous feast of the heart. He wasn’t overly concerned with the plights of his victims, and this in itself lent an air of recklessness to his personality; instead there was a great sense of Jacob’s being devoid of all the softer emotions. In essence, the wolf robbed him of much more than his humanity: It robbed him of his ability to find the importance in life itself. Part of this had to do with some of the things he did in his wolf-state, but another part had to do with his incredible lack of understanding himself, both as a man and as a wolf.
When the tables begin to be turned on Jacob and he realizes that he must survive at all costs, the stakes are raised greatly. Now he can’t waste any more time wondering if indeed he should be alive, and all the brain power that he has expended on his existential plight must now be focused on freeing himself from the traps slowly closing around him. And it is quite a conundrum, as Jacob is soon discovering. There are people who have been on his side all along whom he has always considered threats, and a strange discovery at a train station makes him begin to question all that he has ever known. This discovery changes everything both past and present, and it seems that Jacob isn’t the only one to have discovered it. A thrilling and racing adventure full of intrigue and sabotage begins to be played across the pages that will take the reader into the heart of a man who’s finally beginning to understand all that he was so willing to throw away at the story’s inception.
This story had a bittersweet ending, and though it was graphic and violent, it held my interest and even made me laugh a bit with its dark cynicism and spot-on cogitations. It’s not a book for the faint of heart, but one that elevates the typical werewolf story into something a little more literary and a lot more provocative. I think those readers who experience this book in audio are in for a treat, because the narration by Sachs does a lot to inveigle the reader into the wayward mind and behavior of a creature that we all can understand but are loathe to identify with. A very interesting and strangely kinetic read.