Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Last Neanderthal” as Want to Read:
The Last Neanderthal
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Last Neanderthal

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  3,384 ratings  ·  600 reviews
Forty thousand years in the past, the last family of Neanderthals roams the earth. Girl, the oldest daughter, is coming of age and her family is determined to travel to the meeting place to find her a mate. But the unforgiving landscape takes its toll, and Girl is left alone to care for Runt, a foundling. As Girl and Runt face the coming winter, Girl realizes she has one c ...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published May 2nd 2017 by Little, Brown and Company
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Last Neanderthal, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Lydia Hodgins
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Chantal Saville Not even close. Claire Cameron's book is far more interesting, examining our humanity in a new light.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.65  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,384 ratings  ·  600 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Last Neanderthal
May 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Paleoarchaeologist Dr. Rosemund Gale, working on a dig in present day France, makes an astonishing discovery. She unearths fossilized bones of a Neanderthal girl and a modern day man, facing each other, and buried in the same strata. Radioactive dating indicates that the Neanderthal and the Homo Sapien co-existed, perhaps forming a loving relationship. Rose had discovered a Neanderthal girl 40,000 years after her death. Taking a leave of absence from her tenure track teaching post, Rose intended ...more
Aug 30, 2017 rated it liked it
i was a terrible online book club participant - i did all of the assigned reading, sure, but i only showed up to respond to one round of questions, after which point i just read everyone else’s responses like some ghostly book club lurker. i didn’t even drink any wine, which should make up at least 40% of book club activity.

my failure was one part down to me transitioning from a dayjob person to a nightjob person - with all the attendant physical and psychological horrors, and not having the ti
Diane S ☔
Apr 06, 2017 rated it liked it
France, a female archeologist finds the bones of two people, the bones displayed as if they are looking at each other at the time of their deaths. A very important discovery as it turns out because one of the skeletons is a female Neanderthal and the other a male homo sapiens.

This is a cleverly constructed book, as we go back to the time of the Neanderthal and our author reimagines a time when they were living. She uses a family, a mother, a girl, a boy and another boy, and a young boy that the
May 14, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's 2.5 stars, but I just can't round it up. The ancient portion is too simplistic and inaccurate for being put into a "scientific" context to the present day story. And the present day story is just off and IMHO, poorly written in characterizations. It's similar to a YA level account of being a late thirties age pregnant woman who holds a PhD but which is put into the words and emotions of a teenager rather half denying the reality of outcome for her pregnancy. And the emotional and realistic ...more
May 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I adored the idea of this book! I still think that the concept has merit, but unfortunately, I don’t think it was well-done.

By far, the better sections of the book are those taking place in the distant past, and perhaps this is because we don’t know anything about how those characters would be, and whether or not they are realistic. They still felt fresh and interesting. . . unfortunately, the book description reveals where the plot will take us FIFTY PERCENT INTO THE NOVEL, so the suspense abou
Book Riot Community
I couldn’t stop thinking about this book after I put it down. Telling the parallel stories of Rosamund Gale, a present-day archaeologist uncovering the find of her career, and Girl, a Neanderthal woman coming of age centuries before her, this novel explores how humans are linked—by DNA, by history, and by shared experiences—to our Neanderthal relatives. The scenes set 40,000 years in the past sing with urgency and tension as Girl tries to survive on her own in an unforgiving landscape. While the ...more
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, 2018
3.5 stars

This is basically a lecture on prehistoric life and archeology in a form of a novel. Mostly worked for me, although I think the book would have been better without the dry modern-time perspective. It didn’t really have any life in it until almost the very end. But the perspective of the Neanderthal girl was impressively vivid and raw. It’s hard to know how early humans lived and thought, but the author had a beautiful take on it, emphasizing the deep connection of humans to their surrou
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
Eh. I would much rather have just read Clan of the Cave Bear.
Carol (Bookaria)
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, fiction
“Words could be empty. It was the return of a gesture that held meaning”
― Claire Cameron, The Last Neanderthal: A Novel

This story alternates between the present-day life of an archeologist who found the remains of a neanderthal and the life 40,000 years ago of a neanderthal family.

The book is very interesting, the modern-day scientist is the main character of the present-day timeline and describes theories about neanderthal lives and processes related to archeology findings. The "Girl" is the
What a well structured novel this was. I don't know if the author has ever had a baby, but I would strongly suspect so. If she hasn't, may I commend her on her research? The Neanderthal woman, Girl, is a good mirror for Rose in the present day. They are both women at pivotal junctures in their lives which are complicated by pregnancy. Girl needs to find a mate, join a family, stay alive, and reproduce. Rose has a significant archaeological site to excavate, staff to oversee, papers to write, and ...more
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
In her new novel, The Last Neanderthal, Claire Cameron draws on new scientific information to recreate the world when our human ancestors and Neanderthals coexisted. Of course, DNA sequencing of Neanderthals has proven that they are also part of our ancestral heritage. No longer can we imagine that human superiority overcame an animalistic, inferior group. So what then did cause the extinction of the Neanderthal population?

In this novel, Girl is part of a small family group that just survives, l
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recent science has been rethinking the way we're originally perceived out distant relatives, indeed related if only by a small margins due to the long ago crossbreeding of their species with homo sapiens. This book does more than rethink, it vividly reimagines the Neanderthals as all too sentient, intelligent and able individuals. While that portrayal might be viewed as too steeped in anthropomorphism, it's nevertheless very compelling, as the book follows one young Neanderthal girl's journey. T ...more
Martie Nees Record
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Pub. Date: April 25, 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company

This is a novel about the makings of the female species. There are two female protagonists. One lives in the present and the other lives forty thousand years ago. The author, Claire Cameron, weaves the two females’ very different lives together in flashbacks and flash-forwards. Cameron writes her novel as if it is a thesis, with a theory that needs to be proved. Her hypothesis is that our ancestors were strikingly similar to the human
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
Someone told me when I picked this book I should read Clan of the Cave Bear instead. I’m reasonably sure I should have listened.

As it turns out, following a Neanderthal around in their daily life is just not that interesting. I enjoyed Rose's parts, but that made up about 5 or 6 chapters. Not enough to sustain a whole novel.

On the surface, this is a novel about how Neanderthals lived and how they might have presumably become extinct. At the core, this is a novel about the shared experiences of m
May 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017, can-con
The two skeletons looking into each other's eyes will stop people dead in their tracks. All we need to say is that one is a modern human and the other is Neanderthal...the two skeletons suggested a deeper relationship that could live in the realm of everyone's imagination.


Imagine this picture of the “Valdaro Lovers” – included at the end of The Last Neanderthal and cited as inspiration for author Claire Cameron – but instead of it being two human skeletons, what if it was that of a Homo Sap
Sonja Arlow
About 20km from my house is the Cradle of Humankind, the place where some of the oldest human remains reside. With a recent new discovery of a well-preserved skull of the Homo Naledi species the interest in this subject matter was all over the media.

So when I saw this book it seemed like the perfect time to delve into pre-historic fiction. The story of Girl and her family trying to survive 40,000 years ago was an interesting one. The author clearly tried her best to make the imagined life of the
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Full review is on my blog Sumaiyya Reads:

This book follows two characters separated by 40,000 years. One is a prehistoric Neanderthal Girl, the daughter of one of the last families of Neanderthals. The other is Rose, an archaeologist who discovers Neanderthal remains that she's excavating. Both are connected with their shared experience of pregnancy. I really enjoyed reading this unique concept and I think this novel has two really strong threads; the fir
Mar 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
Full disclosure: I am a female and an archaeologist, although prehistory is not my area of expertise. I found this look into the psyche of a young Neanderthal woman fascinating and touching. I am aware of recent research into the possibility that Neanderthals had a much more complex culture than they have historically been given credit for. If the recent popularity of home DNA/ancestry tests has given us anything really interesting it is the fact that many people have some Neanderthal ancestors ...more
Karen KK
I received this ARC from in exchange for a review.

The story begins with Girl and the last family of Neanderthals roams the earth. When her family dies, Girl is left to care for Runt a young boy with unknown history that her family adopted.

Rose, running an archaeological dig finds the bones of a Neanderthal laying beside and facing the bones of a Homo sapien. When Rose discovers knows is pregnant, she endeavors to complete her work at the dig before she is forced to surrender the
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-books
really enjoyed this book. currently discussing in an online book club throughout september, so won't say much now. curious how/if my feelings with change through talking about the book this month?
Kelsi H
Feb 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Please read all of my reviews at!

The Last Neanderthal is an innovative new novel from the author of The Bear. Once again, Cameron uses a haunting, unexpected voice to tell a story that explores what it means to be human, particularly as a woman. This novel connects two women who are separated by 40,000 years – and yet they both face the same struggles and taboos as they attempt to reconcile motherhood with their own desires.

Thousands of years ago, in what is no
Jennifer (aka EM)
Sep 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: maple-flavoured
Excellent. Beautifully imagined and paced. Entirely immersive. Gripping ending. Primal and elemental and female. Loved it.

ETA: After the first flush of finishing this novel, having read it inside of eight hours, I still think it is very strong but maybe wouldn't be as breathlessly prolific in my superlatives as I was above.

Its strength is in the story-telling - really, two stories - which come together at the end in a dramatic and, I found, really compelling way. There is n
Review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7

This is a review of an ARC copy.

The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron is an extremely promising book. From the beautiful cover, to the seemingly enticing story, Cameron’s novel sold itself pretty well. However, I was frustrated by various aspects of this novel because I felt like it could have dealt with various issues in a better way, and the jarring use of dual perspectives really took me out of the story more often than not.

The Last Neandert
Greg at 2 Book Lovers Reviews
I’ve always enjoyed a good historical book, usually the older the better. Well, with The Last Neanderthal, I’ve gone pre-historic. Claire Cameron’s story bounces back and forth between Girl, our Neanderthal protagonist, and Rosamund Gale, and archaeologist excavating a groundbreaking site.

Whenever I immerse myself in a book like this, one that starts quoting numbers and percentages, I ask myself, does the author have the science right? In the end, it’s a work of fiction, make it convincing and r
Luanne Ollivier
May 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Last Neanderthal is the newly released third book from Claire Cameron. Each book from Cameron has been completely different from the last. This latest springs from Cameron's fascination with Neanderthals.

Research has shown that some modern humans have inherited 1- 4% of their DNA from Neanderthals, indicating that 'rather than a more evolved version of Neanderthals, we are close cousins."

The Last Neanderthal is Cameron's imagining of that time - the end of the Neanderthals and the beginning
Mar 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Pre-hIstorical fiction! The setting is France: pre-historic and contemporary. Cameron gives life to Girl, a young neanderthal woman living with her very small family in the mountains of what we now know is France. And Rose, a British archaeologist who is also pregnant and unsure abut what her every next move will be, is all consumed with the discovery of a neanderthal skeleton and a modern day human skeleton that were found fossilized together. The two women are soon on a parallel journey that w ...more
started out so well only to crash and burn into total destruction
Angélique (MapleBooks)
Rating: 3.5

Have you seen movie The Quest For Fire (1981)? It features a group of prehistoric humans trying to re-acquire fire after they lost it in a battle. Their language is rudimentary and they mostly act like beasts. Although the movie claimed—not without some controversy—to reflect the research of the time, it was based on a novel written by J.-H. Rosny in… 1909! By and large, the perception of archaic humans had barely changed in seventeen years.
Maybe this helps to put in perspective t
Nov 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
WARNING FOR CHAPTERS 9 & 11: (view spoiler)

WARNING FOR CHAPTERS 25 & 26: (view spoiler)

Maybe don't read this book if you are pregnant, or have a child younger than one year old. Maybe read it later instead.
Kathryn Bashaar
May 24, 2019 rated it liked it
This story is told on two timelines. One takes place 40,000 years ago, and tells the story of a young Neanderthal woman's struggle to survive and protect her family. The other takes place in modern times, when an archeologist discovers her remains. As with so many stories of a modern woman unravelling an old mystery, I liked the old character way more than the modern one. Boring or unappealing modern characters seem to be a pitfall of this genre.

The story of Girl, the Neanderthal, is magnificent
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Land Mammals and Sea Creatures
  • All We Leave Behind: A Reporter's Journey Into the Lives of Others
  • Gone to Pot
  • The Inspired Room: Simple Ideas to Love the Home You Have
  • Fool's Gold (A Magic Island Paranormal Cozy Mystery Book 6)
  • Witch's Brew (A Magic Island Paranormal Cozy Mystery Book 7)
  • Toil & Trouble (A Magic Island Paranormal Cozy Mystery Book 5)
  • NEANDER: A Time Travel Adventure
  • Comfort in an Instant: 75 Comfort Food Recipes for Your Pressure Cooker, Multicooker, and InstantPot®
  • Belleza roja
  • El perro negro
  • The Innocents
  • Otoño lejos del nido
  • The Purchase
  • Taipei, Love Boat Quotes: Perfectly Capture the Asian American Experience
  • El mensaje de Pandora
  • The Golden Mean
  • El mentiroso
See similar books…

Author of The Last Neanderthal (April 2017), The Bear and The Line Painter.

I am 2.5% Neanderthal, according to the 23 and Me DNA test. I have a gold tooth.

Related Articles

Let’s face it, 2020 is making us long for other timelines. Luckily, these 32 novels are ready to sweep you away to vastly different eras and...
169 likes · 143 comments
“Words could be empty. It was the return of a gesture that held meaning. And” 2 likes
“Big Mother believed that the measure of a life could be reduced to such small things, a count of the wrinkles to see how many laughs versus how many frowns a body had produced. Because of this, Girl knew that the old woman made sure to laugh often.” 0 likes
More quotes…