"The Last Town On Earth"

The Last Town On Earth by Thomas Mullen

In 1918 an epidemic of influenza killed "as many as 100 million" people worldwide (quoted from the author's notes). Commonwealth, a small lumber-mill town (fictional, but not unlike actual towns in the area) in the American southwest, was healthy while other towns weren't, so the leaders held a town meeting to discuss how to keep it that way. The decision was made, with some objections, to quarantine the town and post armed guards on the road to prevent anyone entering or leaving.

 Neighbouring towns had been hit hard, with the flu spreading quickly and claiming the lives of many men, women and children. The leaders in Commonwealth knew they would need everyone's co-operation to hold it off, but they believed they could do it if they totally isolated themselves. They had enough food and supplies to get them through the few weeks they thought it would take.

It wasn't long before their guards were challenged. First a car appeared, full of men who got angry but turned back when the guards brandished firearms. Then a lone soldier approached looking for food and refuge. This one refused to listen to their warnings.

While the guards were dealing with those problems, other men were sneaking off at night through the woods to a nearby town for the liquor and prostitutes offered there. Eventually they carried the virus back with them, and soon, the people of Commonwealth began to fall ill.

The story centers around the family of Charles Worthy, mill owner and town leader, whose adopted son, Philip, is the book's main character. Philip has a physical handicap from a childhood accident but he doesn't let that stop him from taking his turn at the guard post. That decision is about to change his life.

I think when I remember The Last Town On Earth it will be as an average story with average writing. It held my attention most of the time and it drew me in enough to sympathize with the characters, but I found the ending abrupt. I felt the story was unfinished, leaving me with questions about many of the characters. I wanted more, another chapter maybe. It did give me a look at an actual historic event, though, and for me that always makes things more interesting. I'd give it a 6.5 out of 10.


shelleyrae @ book'd out said...

What a shame the execution fell short because the premise had sucked me in.

Ordinary Reader said...

Yes, it is a shame. I can't imagine why it was left that way. I checked to see if there was supposed to be a sequel but I couldn't find anything. I found it a very odd ending.

Personal Bodyguard said...

Its a very execution shame. I like this and want to read it.thanks your post.

Post a Comment