Cover Image: The Last Ranger

The Last Ranger

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Member Reviews

Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to read this ARC. Peter Heller is back, packing a huge punch within a short amount of pages. He winds tales through the .natural elements of the US. This story is about the life of a Yellowstone ranger. Truly fascinating!
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I've long been a fan of Peter Heller, beginning with the amazing Dog Stars. This book was a riveting immersion into Yellowstone where a lonely park ranger, Ren, who loves the wildlife and unspoiled wilderness, comes up against those who would spoil it all in the name of freedom to hunt and basically not respect the sacredness of life. After a couple of violent incidences involving park wildlife, things begin to hit too close to home and Ren is determined to investigate.

We gradually learn more about Ren's past as the mystery unfolds, which allows a deeper look into his psyche. Then, things get really personal when a reclusive biologist, his neighbor and friend, who is deeply immersed in the wolf packs she monitors and knows intimately becomes involved. The setting was described so vividly that all of my senses were engaged as I devoured this book. I could not put it down and cannot wait for another novel by Peter Heller.

Many thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and the author for the opportunity to read and eARC of this beautiful story.
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I read this quite a while ago (must have missed it when I logged on to do reviews!) so don't remember specifics, but I know we did get this for our collection.
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The Last Ranger by Peter Heller is a beautiful story of survival, both human and animal, in Yellowstone National Park. 

Ren Hopper is a game warden who has suffered loss and bears the scars of that loss. Surrounding him are other wardens, biologists, park rangers who form his pack. They watch out for each other just as the wolves who were introduced back to the park in 1995 do. 

But like the wolves, there are human predators who are threatening Ren. As Ren unravels the mystery of who is out to hurt him, we learn about Ren’s past and see him confront his future. 

The Last Ranger is a slow, character driven story interspersed with alot of nature description. This book will not be for everyone, but I enjoyed it. I liked learning about Ren, and I especially loved his neighbor, biologist Hilly. But the nature scenes were a little long and drew me from the story so that when we got back to the humans, I had to back up and refresh my memory. 

Overall, though, I would recommend this for nature lovers and those who enjoy a story that burns very slowly. 

Thank you to @netgalley and @aaknopf for the e-copy of #thelastranger. This book is now available.
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I wanted to like this one so badly, but I just could not connect.  I have visited Yellowstone so was familiar with some of the scenery and spots described, but again - this one was just not for me.
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I have loved Peter Heller’s previous novels and this is a nice addition. He has a unique genre I would call “nature thriller:/adventure/mystery”.  I really liked the Yellowstone setting and Heller’s descriptions make you feel like you’re there. Ren’s backstory helped him become a fully fleshed out character and the other people in the story added a lot of color. The plot wasn’t as fast-paced as The River but I stayed interested and read this in a short amount of time.
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Always reliable - Peter Heller gives us another wild adventure of the west. He was a special ability to introduce the reader to the environment and the complex narrator from the very beginning! Enjoy this escape to the Wild West.
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Peter Heller is my new favorite. This title checked all the boxes - great suspense, a bit of romance, and an existential crisis...the trifecta! There wasn't anything about this I didn't love from the wolves to the crisis of conscience to the descriptions of the views. I can't wait for his next title and I just bought all his titles for my library!
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I find Peter Heller’s quiet, contemplative writing incredibly engaging. His books work particularly well on audio, with the incredibly talented and multiple award-winning narrator, Mark Deakins, narrating of all of Heller’s books.

Heller writes well-developed characters with the theme of man vs nature. Ren is a park ranger at Yellowstone who spends his days patrolling the park and often saving humans from themselves. 

How many innocent lives have been lost in service to Instagram?”

And he’s not just talking about human lives.

Along with the beautiful descriptions of Yellowstone and Ren’s musings about man and nature, there’s a mystery when an investigation into local poaching begins. Both human and animal lives are at stake. As always, Heller’s characters are well-developed and nuanced, and the author is able to maintain the tension while deftly inserting his message without coming across as preachy. 

Heller is one of my favorite authors. A simple but deceptively powerful novel, and highly recommended!
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I requested this book because Peter Heller’s book The River was very well written. This book however felt like a documentary on the Yellowstone wolves that had been turned into a novel. I was not engaged in the plot or the characters.
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I've read all of Peter Heller's books and liked them. This one, not so much. The story is suffering from an identity crisis. One moment it's "Dances with Wolves," then it becomes "Smoky Mountain Park Rangers." Ren, our erstwhile ranger/Marlboro Man, embodies this confusion. As usual, Heller does a fine job with his descriptive passages of flora and fauna, but the so-called dramatic scenes have no drama. And, btw, the title makes no sense. He's not the last. Was the lone ranger taken?
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Thanks to Netgalley I received an advanced reader copy of Heller's newest book. I don't think I've read one of his books yet that I didn't like. 

The Last Ranger is most definitely a slow burn. There is action yes, but majority of the book takes place in simpler and quiet moments, full of vivid description and in heartfelt flashbacks and gentle conversations. Heller is an expert at making you want to sit back and let the story unfold in front of you. I can imagine that some might find this story boring, or that not enough of the conflict is fully resolved, but if you've liked his other books then you will already understand the way his stories progress with a slow creeping dread that ends in a quick and intense climax.
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The parts that were about Ren's job as an enforcement ranger and the different characters were a little interesting. My biggest hitch with book was the pacing. There were too many reminiscing scenes of Ren's past that really slowed down the story.  I frequently had to remind myself what was going on in the present day part of the story. The ending was rushed and the overall story...unmemorable.
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I have some thoughts...

Ok, first half of this book, I was loving it - then...the pacing and plot got a little muddy. 

Officer Ren Hopper is an enforcement ranger with the National Park Service, tasked with duties both mundane and thrilling: Breaking up fights at campgrounds, saving clueless tourists from moose attacks, and attempting to broker an uneasy peace between the wealthy vacationers who tromp through the park with cameras, and the residents of hardscrabble Cooke City who want to carve out a meaningful living.

Following a park ranger and all the craziness that goes on in a national park?! I was ALL IN, but the conflict didn't get paced well and no other characters were developed well besides Ren. I did however, really enjoy Ren so that's why I ended up between 3.5 and 4 stars. 

Thank you @netgalley for the ebook and thank you @prhaudio for the complimentary listening copy!

Now I really want a reality show that follows park rangers! Would you watch?? 

*This picture is in Acadia National Park, taken on Cadillac Mountain when John and I went in 2013.
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BRB, booking a trip to Yellowstone. Peter Heller is so so good at nature writing and making his reader feel as though they are right in the action.This is a slower burn than some of his others, but that didn't bother me at all.  Not only did I get insight into the landscape and wildlife of Yellowstone, but also the day to day work of a national park ranger and the researcher who call the park home. The main storyline was tense and propulsive, but the side stories were strange, hilarious,  and terrifying, dangerous all at that same time. I loved Ren as a main character, like truly felt a little in love with him by the end. He enjoys a simple life, but is also principled and determined. What a guy ;). I do believe this is my new favorite Peter Heller book.
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The Last Ranger by Peter Heller is beautifully written. The descriptions of the land and nature in the Yellowstone area are vivid and passages of introspection are lyrical and meaningful. I was very impressed with the book in these areas. However, I will admit to wishing for a bit more momentum to carry me forward. It didn't feel to me that the plot was driving the story, especially for something being marketed as a thriller and suspense. Though there was certainly suspenseful aspects of the story, they never succeeded in creating much tension in my reading experience. It's quite possible that this just isn't a good fit for me, but I recognize the quality of the book for others who read in this genre.
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With gorgeous writing, Peter Heller describes the landscape of Yellowstone National Park in his most recent book, THE LAST RANGER. His language engages all of the readers’ senses as he shares the views, sounds, and smells that his ranger, Ren, is fortunate enough to encounter as a part of his daily life. Have your highlighter ready as you read this book; you are going to want to mark passages to go back to once you’ve reached the end of this fast-paced suspense novel. 

The book takes place in the northern sections of Yellowstone, where wolves, bears, and other wildlife range and tourists misbehave. Heller reminds us in the plot that Yellowstone is a part of the untamed West, the human population of which includes individualistic ranchers, hunters, trappers, and others who do not think kindly of the federal supervision of “their” land. Heller has a clear opinion on the subject of setting aside land for all of the nation to enjoy and where animals can thrive, but he writes nuanced characters on both sides of the issue. Ren, an environmentalist who wonders if he is the last ranger who truly cares about animals, grows throughout the book to understand how it is possible for a good man to take a different stance. 

The central plot involves Ren’s relationship with Hilly, a wolf researcher who lives in a cabin close to his own, and Hilly’s deadly feud with a poacher who sees the wolves as a source of income. His own love of the animals, his job as a wildlife ranger, and threats to his life compel him to become involved in locating and stopping the poacher. In the process, he uncovers a subversive group intent upon ending what they see as the land grab of the government in creating Yellowstone National Park. Ren’s motivations are enhanced by flashbacks to his upbringing. He is a very deeply created character, and one I hope we will see resurface in future books.

Ren loves fishing and the book describes several detailed scenes of backwoods fishing. Not being a fisher myself, some of the language went over my head. But the manner in which the flow experience of fishing is written is astounding and nearly makes me want to take up fly fishing. Heller describes in a few paragraphs what it took Csikszentmihalyi an entire book to impart. Just reading this selection is a flow experience.

In spite of the beautiful writing that may cause the reader to pause or reread, the book builds to a can’t-put-down pace. In the end, the plot threads come together in a very satisfying way but one which leaves room for Heller to pick up those threads and weave a new plot in the future. Heller is not known for a series, though his most recent two books, THE RIVER and THE GUIDE, do follow the same character. I am hopeful that he brings us back to Ren, but mostly I am just looking forward to following him into his next book, whomever it involves and wherever it is placed.
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It’s hard to make peace with yourself when all the women’s in your life have … complex relationships with death. In The Last Ranger, Peter Heller once again mixes strong characters with beautiful word pictures in a fast-paced thriller. Can’t wait for the next one!
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I love everything of Peter Heller’s that I have read so far. However, this one was just fine. It’s slow as much of his work is, but this one was even slower than normal. The central conflict didn’t compel me the way I hoped it would, and actually as I hit the last chapter of the book on audio, I was incredibly surprised to realize it was over..
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Heller's newest suspenseful wilderness story is full of danger, wonder, and emotional ties; the unforgiving nature and beauty of the natural world; and quick thinking that saves the day more than once. As with all Heller novels, the writing is exquisitely beautiful.

Peter Heller's newest novel, The Last Ranger, centers around Ren, an enforcement officer in Yellowstone National Park. 

Ren spends his days protecting tourists from the wild animals who live in the park, stopping drunken fights at campgrounds, and serving as mediator between wealthy vacationers temporarily in the park and the working-class full-time residents of the neighboring town.

When he investigates a local poacher, he begins to unravel a complicated web of conspiracy theories, renegade heroism, secrets, and danger.

Peter Heller is an absolute favorite author of mine. His writing is beautiful, and its spare tone strikes the perfect chord for the wild environment his characters live within.

Ren is emotionally closed off due to past personal tragedy, yet he is endearingly connected to his fellow park employees and to many of those who live in the towns bordering the park. When he does show vulnerability, it feels hard-won--I loved it.

The impossible, frustrating push and pull of tourism and preservation are a tension throughout the story. I loved seeing Ren's procedure as he prevented issues, coped with challenges, headed off trouble, and faced danger head-on.

The reintroduced wolves are at the center of the story--the public's fascination, shared by scientists studying the animals; the inability to contain the creatures within park boundaries to preserve their safety; and the danger that comes for them even within the park.

A subplot confused me in that it felt as though its presence was meant to build up widespread danger and reveal shiver-inducing deep roots winding throughout political powerhouses and wealthy supporters. Then it was dropped altogether, so that it felt like a messy situation that isn't fully explored. 

A couple of other potentially disastrous and complex situations were faced and addressed, and I enjoyed the clean resolutions that may have been easy but felt satisfying.

As always, I'm in for Heller's showcasing of the unforgiving, beautiful natural world; the sometimes-renegade justice that emerges in impossible situations; and his characters' hard-won emotional vulnerability. 

His writing is just gorgeous and I'm in for every word.

I received a prepublication copy of this book courtesy of Knopf and NetGalley.

Heller is also the author of The Guide, The River, and The Painter, as well as The Dog Stars.
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