Review: The Last Town on Earth

The Last Town on Earth Book Cover

The Last Town on Earth
Thomas Mullen
Random House
July 2007

The Short of It:

The Last Town on Earth is an interesting story about trust, right and wrong and what people are willing to do when lives are on the line.

The Rest of It:

A friend recommend this book to me well over a year ago. In my mind, I thought it would be more dystopian in feel, but it wasn’t that kind of book at all. The story is about Commonwealth, a small town in the Pacific Northwest that gets hit with the flu during the 1918 epidemic that swept through the nation. In an effort to protect the town, the town folk decide to enact a quarantine. This means that the residents must stay within the town, and no one from outside of the town can come in.

At first, this works fine. The town is self-sufficient to a degree. There is plenty of food and other supplies and most of the folks feel that the quarantine is a necessary precaution. But as the flu ravages other towns and there is talk of war spies, the people of Commonwealth realize that they may have to protect their town from more than just the flu.

While on guard duty, Philip & Graham encounter a soldier looking for shelter and food. Graham’s handling of the situation disturbs Philip and causes him to replay the incident over and over again in his mind. The encounter affects him so deeply, that when he is faced with a similar situation, he makes a decision that puts the entire town at risk.

The story was a bit slow for me. It took a good 200 pages for me to get into it but there was something about the writing that kept me going. The depiction of the town itself was spot on. I could easily picture the setting in my mind and the main characters and the situations they faced were well-developed. I had some issues with the development of some of the other characters though. Their demeanor did not match their age, but in a frontier town in the early 1900’s, that is to be expected. Young people held more responsibility in those days.

Although this story deals with a pandemic it’s not like any of the other novels I’ve read that deal with the same topic. The flu itself takes a backseat to the other themes within the novel which include, fierce loyalty, the will to survive, trust and honor. Not a page-turner but I liked it.

Mullen’s most recent book The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers looks very good. I’d definitely read another book by him.

Source: Purchased

12 thoughts on “Review: The Last Town on Earth”

  1. Anything in print has been slow for me lately. It makes me want to cry. The whole idea of quarantines to me is an exercise that is doomed to fail. Too bad it was a bit more peppy!

    1. No, it’s not based on a true story but the flu pandemic of 1918 was the inspiration for the story. The rest was entirely made up. Ti

  2. I’ve heard of this one before, and have gone back and forth on reading it. The premise sounds good, but I’m not sure I’d have the patience to wait 200 pages to get into the story.

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