The two narratives — excavator and the excavatee; human and Neanderthal; present and past — are inexorably intertwined and neatly juxtaposed with authentic details and captivating characters. The Last Neanderthal could easily be the first of a new, compelling genre of prehistoric fiction ... It’s clear that Cameron has done her hominin homework. Her Neanderthals are tantalizingly authentic ... Cameron’s approach is to give Neanderthals their own agent-driven literary space — consequently, this could easily be the best book that shakes up the classic Neanderthal tropes in science fiction and fantasy.
This narrative structure, reminiscent of A.S. Byatt’s Possession, allows the author to explore both sides of the timeline: researchers tracking clues to learn about a vanished people as well as the adventures of those living in the earlier epoch ... The Last Neanderthal is most compelling in the chapters where Girl strives to find enough food for her and Runt to stay alive as they search for others, all the while fending off attacks by bear or cougar...But Rosamund’s main conflict, whether the museum funding her dig will override her scientific bias for a glitzy big show, is less interesting because the stakes seem much lower in comparison.
Transcending the challenges of bringing to life a nearly silent family, Cameron generates excitement through a hunt gone unexpectedly wrong and even an uncomfortable sexual tension ... Across millennia, Neanderthal and Homo sapiens, ancient girl and contemporary woman, hunter and scientist—all share much in common