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Set against the backdrop of one of the most virulent epidemics that America ever experienced-the 1918 flu epidemic-Thomas Mullen's powerful, sweeping first novel is a tale of morality in a time of upheaval. Deep in the mist-shrouded forests of the Pacific Northwest is a small mill town called Commonwealth, conceived as a haven for workers weary of exploitation. For PhilipSet against the backdrop of one of the most virulent epidemics that America ever experienced-the 1918 flu epidemic-Thomas Mullen's powerful, sweeping first novel is a tale of morality in a time of upheaval. Deep in the mist-shrouded forests of the Pacific Northwest is a small mill town called Commonwealth, conceived as a haven for workers weary of exploitation. For Philip Worthy, the adopted son of the town's founder, it is a haven in another sense-as the first place in his life he's had a loving family to call his own. And yet, the ideals that define this outpost are being threatened from all sides. A world war is raging, and with the fear of spies rampant, the loyalty of all Americans is coming under scrutiny. Meanwhile, another shadow has fallen across the region in the form of a deadly illness striking down vast swaths of surrounding communities. When Commonwealth votes to quarantine itself against contagion, guards are posted at the single road leading in and out of town, and Philip Worthy is among them. He will be unlucky enough to be on duty when a cold, hungry, tired-and apparently ill-soldier presents himself at the town's doorstep begging for sanctuary. The encounter that ensues, and the shots that are fired, will have deafening reverberations throughout Commonwealth, escalating until every human value-love, patriotism, community, family, friendship-not to mention the town's very survival, is imperiled. Inspired by a little-known historical footnote regarding towns that quarantined themselves during the 1918 epidemic, "The Last Town on Earth" is a remarkably moving and accomplished debut....

Title : The Last Town on Earth
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781400065202
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 387 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Last Town on Earth Reviews

  • Kemper
    2019-05-11 03:51

    Working in a cube farm, I dread the cold & flu season because you’re surrounded by hacking, sneezing, phlegm-filled germ factories who insist on coming to work and spreading their misery because they don’t want to burn their sick days on ‘just a cold’. I’ve often thought that we should set up some kind of quarantine zone in the building and make any of the infected go there and work so that the rest of us may be spared. After reading The Last Town on Earth, I’m torn between thinking that it’s a bad idea or that we should post armed guards to keep the sickies out of the break room.Thomas Mullen took the 1918 flu epidemic that killed millions and has built a fictional story about one town’s response to the threat. Commonwealth is a logging town built by a man who turned his back on his rich and ruthless family to start a mill where he could prove that workers could be treated decently and still turn a profit. He and his wife, a political activist for women’s and workers' rights, have helped build a community in the woods that has attracted many loggers who have been the victims of unfair labor practices and violent strike breakers. Commonwealth is just starting to run in the black, mainly due to the increase in lumber demand from the government after the U.S. entry into World War I.However, when the deadly flu breaks out in neighboring towns, the leaders and citizens of Commonwealth decide that they’ll quarantine themselves since no one is sick and they’re already isolated. Anyone can leave, but no one will be allowed to enter until the flu has run its course. Armed guards are posted to prevent anyone from entering the town. It’s seems like a simple and straight forward plan, but when a starving soldier comes out the woods and wants to enter, it starts a series of events that will begin to tear the town apart. Commonwealth will also have to contend with a ‘patriotic’ group from a neighboring town who are suspicious of the ‘socialist’ enclave in the woods and want to break their quarantine to make sure that there are no draft dodgers or spies hiding there.This was an original and intriguing idea for a book, and it’s got a rich historical backdrop with the characters contending not only with the flu, but the labor movement of the era along with the political and social issues associated with both the pro- and anti-war movements. I also learned some chilling things about the U.S. during this time. For example, the government basically outlawed any dissent or forms of protest against the war. As he did with The Great Depression in The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers, Mullen makes the day-to-day life of a bygone era really come alive. His style is deceptively plain, but he still manages to make the characters complex. I didn’t like this one quite as much as Firefly Brothers, but still a really interesting story.

  • Lawyer
    2019-05-07 04:53

    After reading Mullen's second book, "The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers" for review and finding it less than notable I thought I should read Mullen's debut novel which received such favorable reviews. It far surpasses his second effort. The characters are finely drawn, the setting superbly described, and a number of social issues aptly addressed with a clear application of good historical research.Mullen deftly weaves the strands of World War One, the Spanish Influenza epidemic, ahd the American labor movement into a taut novel of historical fiction.

  • Debbie Zapata
    2019-04-27 10:10

    This book is intense. The story deals with a mill town in Washington state during WWI. Charles Worthy created the town and hopes to run it and his lumber mill in a utopian way, with better working conditions for the men and better living conditions for their families. It is a social experiment and a dream for everyone, and seems to be working.Until the Spanish flu pandemic arrives in the nearby town of Timber Falls. What will Charles do to protect his dream from the deadly flu? How will the decisions he makes affect his adopted son Philip, the various workmen we get to know, and the town itself?Mostly the story is told through Philip's eyes, but we meet many characters, each with their own unusual backgrounds which determine how they personally react to events which are soon spiraling out of everyone's control.This is not an easy book to read. It is dark, dramatic, full of nearly constant tension. But at the same time it is easy to feel that you are living in Commonwealth. And trust me, if anyone in your house sneezes or coughs while you are immersed in this book, you will not be able to keep yourself from getting just a little paranoid about germs. The people of the town faced many issues relevant to their times, but it would take just a tweak or two here and there to have nearly every issue they faced happening in our own times. Human nature being what it is, and patriotism being twisted into what it shouldn't be, all we need is an outbreak of some deadly contagious disease and we will be right back in 1918. Another reason for being a little paranoid.

  • Hank
    2019-05-02 05:54

    An interesting premise - what if a logging town sealed itself off during a flu pandemic with nothing but sappy, contrived dialog and one-dimensional characters to keep itself and you the reader entertained?A predictable result - grisly descriptions of suffering from the flu pale only in comparison to the pain you will feel from reading the dull and smarmy musings of the panicky townfolk wrestling with weighty moral issues in the face of widespread sickness and paranoia.Some actual dialog follows:"'Oh my God,' I said, or whispered, or thought, or moaned.""I stood up, stepped forward, and vomited, resting my hands against the wall as I spat everything up. I closed my eyes and tried to will away the savage butchery that surrounded me. Coughing and choking on whatever was left inside me, I tried to steady myself, tried to think."Actually, if you replace 'savage butchery' in this passage with 'crappy writing' it pretty well captures how you will feel after reading this book.Warning: shocking plot stealer coming...........rugged, tough-guy logger haunted by personal tragedy not so emotionally tough as he seems but plucky, crippled orphan shows compassion and resilience despite insurmountable odds and high fever. In the end, you can't hide from your own feelings or from your own gun-wielding, infected neighbors. Boo hoo hoo. The upside in this story is that Tiny Tim gets to bust a cap in the ass of the right-wing interlopers. Huzzah!Seriously, if you're flying through turbulence on a long flight and your options are this book or SkyMall magazine, this is a marginally better choice. But it has to be a long flight because it takes more than an hour to get used to the lousy writing or dim-bulb characters in this awful book. It's also a good idea to read this on the plane because you will have an air-sickness bag handy.

  • ElizabethFuller
    2019-05-20 08:12

    This book has a lot going for it - a very dramatic time (the influenza epidemic of 1918), a very dramatic premise (a town that tries to fend off sickness by isolating itself), and - if possible - even more dramatic situations as the story progresses (what happens when two different strangers try to enter the self-quarantined town). So I should have loved it. And I really wanted to. But somehow, I didn't, and it was kind of an effort to finish. But it was our book group's selection last month, so I did finish, and the discussion it prompted was indeed lively. Near the end of the evening, however, someone noted that the end of the story leaves the future wide open for the main character, and wondered if a sequel might be in the works. Then someone else piped up and said, "But I don't think Phillip is really interesting enough for a sequel." And I think that summed up my hesitations about the book overall: while the situations are very interesting, the characters aren't nearly as compelling. The actions of the main character - a 16-year-old boy forced to act and react in a very touchy life-or-death situation, not once but twice - do drive the story, as they should...but he's not really a very unique or compelling presence beyond the situations he's thrust into. And I think that kind of killed it for me. Despite appreciating much of what I read here, I couldn't help coming away a bit disappointed.

  • Chris Dietzel
    2019-05-06 07:01

    I was very interested in this historical fiction with an apocalyptic premise. The story presented a small town worried about big world issues. Two things irked me about it though. The first was the cover to cover loading of praise from national publications saying how great the book was. Very few books can live up to unanimous industry praise and this was one that could not. There is nothing wrong with the story or the writing but there is nothing spectacular about it either. That makes me give even less credence to national reviews than I did previously. The second thing that bothered me was the title, which gives a very distinct feeling that the book will be apocalyptic in nature. In actuality, it wasn't at all. A town does get the spanish flu but the author never spends even one paragraph talking about the possibility of entire towns or the entire world being void of people. The result is that the apocalyptic premise is just a tease, one that felt intentional in order to tap into a market the book wouldn't have otherwise reached. This is the same as giving a WWII book the title "Battlestar Gallactica" or a cookbook the title "The Grapes of Wrath."

  • Heidi
    2019-05-09 10:55

    This was suggested for our library book groups by the County Health Department. If a book group chose to read this, the department would contribute the books, and send a pandemic health department expert to the group. We chose this for our November read. Jessica, our pandemic expert, was excited about this opportunity to work with the library, and the greater visibility the department could gain by partnering with the library. She'd heard the author on NPR, and started planning from there. We readers enjoyed the background history we learned, not only about the flu epidemic, but about the unions, the Wobblies, feminists, and their influence in the Pacific Northwest. As a group, we felt the characters and plot failed to live up to the subject. (It's unusual for us all to share the same opinion, to be fair our numbers were small just before the Thanksgiving holiday.) I tend to enjoy a plot that is driven by interesting characters. This seemed more to us like the author had a plot in mind, and created characters to fill those roles...not so believable to us. One person summed it up, that it seemed to be written with the movie in mind. She already knew the actors: Tommy Lee Jones for the town's leader, Jude Law for Graham, the stiff-upper-lipped young man just trying to protect his family. I was a little annoyed at the implication that an attempt to create a utopia was doomed due to human nature. Another felt the book started out well, but then got too simplistic. One of the first things Jessica told us is that this story is a good illustration that quarantines don't work. I'd been wondering about the effectiveness of the masks. Wouldn't a sick person contaminating the outside of a healthy person's mask still manage to spread the disease? Just so. It would be more effective to have sick people wear the masks. The 1918 flu epidemic was what they would call a "category 5" flu. The world hasn't seen such a flu since. There were some global pandemics in the 50s and 60s, but not like this. Recently it was discovered that this flu did indeed come from a bird. (They got samples from bodies frozen in the permafrost.) The bird flu existing now is difficult to pass from person to person, but a few cases have. As to whether there will be a bird flu that is easily passed...it's a crap shoot. Jessica told us plans would trigger if "anywhere in the world a confirmed cluster of a new flu" has a certain "fatality ratio." Plans can't include a vaccine really, because we can't predict the strain of a pandemic. Part of the problem in 1918, the US government so controlled the media that communities couldn't learn needed details about what worked in other communities. We learned that in our county, the "community mitigation strategies" for a category 5 pandemic come from the best practices that cities and towns took in 1918. Portland happened to utilize these, and didn't fare quite so badly. These practices are: multiple social distancing strategies; cancelling school classes for up to 3 months; urging businesses to stagger shifts so less people are working at one time; if an individual is sick, urging families to stay home voluntarily.Challenges faced in a pandemic? Jessica said, "The closing of the schools: teens get antsy." [spoiler alert..that's not too far off for the failure of the quarantine in the book.] Also, the global nature of businesses. If the health department seeks cooperation in the closing of the local mall, they may have to call owners in China. Jessica was clear that our county doesn't have the authority to enforce martial law, nor did it seem she wished for it. She emphasized that within the department they work towards consensus. Her overall message seemed to be that best practices involved cooperation, not authoritarianism.

  • Kristen
    2019-05-08 06:03

    Historically, this was a very interesting book. A fictional milling town in Washington State quarantines itself in an attempt to keep out the influenza of 1918. After the first few chapters, however, I did wonder whether the book was worth my time because of the poor writing. The author often stopped the action to describe (in detail) the physical appearance of every single insignificant character. There were too many characters, by the way, that were introduced for no apparent reason. The author also used the omniscient point of view which, unless employed by the most skilled writer, is usually a distraction and weakens the characters. This was the case with this book. However, I decided to persist if only to gleam some information about the Spanish flu for the novel I'm trying to write. I did eventually become interested in some of the characters and the historical information was fascinating.

  • Jeanette
    2019-05-11 10:49

    This story takes place during a grim and volatile period in U.S. history, when many factors could turn neighbor against neighbor. While some were losing their sons in WWI, there was a large anti-war movement and many men refused to enlist. There was also great worker unrest and violence involving the "Wobblies" (I.W.W.) who were seeking better working conditions and higher wages. Women were agitating for the right to vote. Then along came the Influenza Pandemic of 1918, causing people to fear their fellow human beings in a new way.In The Last Town on Earth, one small mill town in Washington has not yet been infected by the flu. They decide to implement a sort of "reverse quarantine." They post round-the-clock guards to prevent outsiders from entering the town and potentially bringing the flu in with them. The story effectively shows the ways in which fear, mistrust, and misinformation can divide and destroy communities and families.I especially enjoyed the fact that the story takes place in my neck of the woods. :) I live right here in Everett, and didn't know about the Everett Massacre of 1916!! I also learned quite a bit about what the social and political climate was like nationwide during this time period.I recommend reading the Author's Note at the back of the book prior to reading the story. I wished I had done so, as it provides a lot of context and historical background. It really should have been a preface.

  • John Wiltshire
    2019-05-15 12:06

    I do love apocalyptic novels and this one is based around a real apocalyptic scenario--the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak at the end of the First World War. A small, remote logging town decides to quarantine themselves, setting up a roadblock with armed guards. As with all plans, the weakest link is always the human beings themselves. Too many humans are inherently weak and liberal kind and thoughtful when the realities of life are anything but. And how interesting the premise of this book is when the whole world (except Japan and any Muslim countries) is racked with guilt about whether or not to take in millions of refugees. I did enjoy this novel. It's well written. I stuck with it, but I have to confess it didn't actually grip me for some reason. I didn't really connect with any of the characters. I'm not sure why. It's possible that it's because the author heard about the real life town that actually did quarantine themselves off, was intrigued and so wrote the novel, rather than the book, the plot, and the characters coming alive in his head and demanding to be written. It's just a little flat, and I suspect that's because it's a true life incident being padded out to a novel.

  • Amy
    2019-05-06 05:59

    I really enjoyed this book... It wasn't super riveting but I thought the character development was very good. It was like a socialogical (is that a word?) study on the ways fear/war/illness can affect an entire community and the ways the ugly parts of people (and some good parts too) can be brought to the surface.

  • Bobbie
    2019-05-11 03:56

    Totally enthralling from start to finish. Although it was fiction, it actually was modeled on real stories that occurred during the 1918 Spanish flu. Given our current risk of another global pandemic, it was also quite thought provoking causing me to wonder what I and others would do if faced with such circumstances. Beautifully written, well researched.

  • David
    2019-04-27 05:14

    A very nicely written historical novel set in the American northwest during the 1918 flu epidemic. The town of Commonwealth is a small, backwoods mill town, founded by an idealistic mill owner and settled by a variety of workers, mostly fleeing from union strife and harder conditions in other mill towns. Their pleasant, egalitarian little town lives in peaceful isolation except for the lumber they send downriver, until the coming of World War I and the draft, and then the influenza.Thomas Mullen weaves many issues into this novel. By 1918, the Great War was well underway and thousands of Americans had already died in Europe, but it was not universally popular. There was a strong anti-war sentiment, but thanks to laws passed by Congress and President Wilson, it had become effectively illegal to protest against the war. This was also a time of violent labor strife, with workers fighting for better wages and safer conditions. Marxism, socialism, and anarchism were all popular in many circles. When the war came, business interests took the opportunity to label unionists and other civil rights agitators as unpatriotic and undermining the war effort.Commonwealth, "the last town on Earth," is a place that many people fled to to escape these troubles. Many of its male residents did not enlist for the draft. There are socialists and war protestors among them. No one cares much, except for a few rival mill owners in neighboring towns.Then comes the flu. It's been decimating towns across the country. Commonwealth's leaders decide to quarantine themselves: let no one in or out of the town until they think the flu has passed. (Mullen based this on rumors that some towns tried this in 1918, though apparently none were really successful.) They post guards to keep visitors out -- with guns if necessary. Then a soldier comes out of the woods, begging for food and shelter, and beginning a series of events that brings tragedy to the town.This isn't a book with a very happy ending, but everything follows logically from the choices people make, and the plotting just flows sensibly and smoothly. Violence happens, and there are consequences. No one gets away clean. Most of the time, you can understand all sides in the various conflicts.Mullen populates Commonwealth with a variety of characters, pausing the story to tell the histories of several of them. So this is also a somewhat leisurely book in that it's not non-stop action, though the story does move right along between brief passages of exposition.Great characterization and an interesting story with fine historical details. Highly recommended.

  • Ben
    2019-05-13 09:54

    I liked this book. It is Mullen's debut and I have to admit that a few times, I thought the writing was just a little clumsy. Several of the characters had trouble in their pasts and Mullen would mention it a few times before actually describing the past trouble. The main character, Philip had lost part of his foot due to an accident. Mullens mentioned Philip limping and had mentioned the accident without telling us what it was several times before going into detail. I almost would've prefered if Mullens had just mentioned the limp without mentioning the false foot and accident until he was ready to fully go into detail. Mullens should read Story of a Marriage by Sean Andrew Greer. Greer is an expert at not even letting the reader know he's missing something until he's ready to go into full detail.That aside, I did really enjoy the book. It raised a lot of interesting ethical and moral questions. It was a really interesting look at an important aspect of American history that often gets overlooked. I wouldn't read it right after reading The Great Influenza though since it seems Mullens read that as a large portion of his research.

  • Gilda Felt
    2019-05-20 07:10

    I’d never heard about the towns that quarantined themselves during the Spanish Flu epidemic, so that immediately drew my interest. The story is very well told, with each person’s story slowly brought to light. And, given the very nature of the town, many are not as they seem.Philip Worthy is not just worthy in name. He’s the central focus of the story, yet is an excellent conduit for the reader to learn about the other characters. His empathy softens what could be very unpleasant natures in others, while his own history and situation make him the perfect “outsider,” giving him a unique perspective.My only complaints are both regarding the ending of the book. Firstly, I felt that a situation was added that really didn’t do much as far as I could see. The situation it set up could have easily been done within the set parameters of the book. That situation is my second complaint. I’ve never been a fan of a “fade to black” when it comes to a major character’s fate. I understand that the future is always unknown, but a writer has the ability to change that. It would have greatly added to my enjoyment of the book if that had been done here.

  • Sterlingcindysu
    2019-05-12 09:07

    Mullen did a lot of research for this book--resistance to WWI, the Spanish influenza, logging and lumber mills and logger's rights/unions. He puts all that research in this one book, and I think he could have fleshed the story out more and made an epic tale to make use of all his research, and added it in small bites vs. dumps of several pages. Or conversely, he could have written 2-3 books with all the research and made this one smaller. The story was okay. I kept expecting parts introduced earlier (see research dumps above) would step in later and go ah-ha! But they didn't. For example, why show Rebecca's resistance to her husband's idea of a quarantine repeatedly, but then she didn't do anything about it except grumble? One good thing about reading this during a blizzard (DC's 2nd worse storm) is that you can sympathize about not going out anywhere and food supplies dwindling!

  • Erin
    2019-04-29 09:49

    In The Last Town on Earth, Mullen does a wonderful job of weaving the three archetypal conflicts: man vs. man, man vs. the machine (society), and man vs. nature. He does so in an unexpected way, with a wide cast of well-developed characters. The story initially revolves around Philip, the adopted son on the mill's owner, but it becomes quickly apparent that while he continues as the main protagonist, this is not just his story; the town is really the main character, and all the people that play a role here are the supporting cast. Ultimately, Mullen does leave a few plot lines unresolved, but for the most part this is a finely written, engaging book. I couldn't put it down.

  • Stephanie
    2019-04-21 06:03

    When I was a child, my father used to tell me about this outbreak of the 'flu during WWI that "killed more people than the war, that year." The fact that Dad was born 15 years after the war ended but talked about it like he was there was a testimony to the fact the impact of the outbreak was significant in our small, Western town. This book fictionalizes the 1919 Spanish 'flu epidemic in an intriguing way: what if (like Gunnison, Colorado) a town cut themselves off in order to avoid infection? What does the isolation do to the inhabitants, and how far are you willing to go to protect yourself? My one complaint about the book was that the conclusion reads as though the author simply got tired of writing.

  • Emily
    2019-05-02 11:15

    Grim and a little long. Too many characters. But there were many good things about this book - the antiwar sentiments, the socialism, the quiet feminism. I never quite believed the main character was 16. And when they talked about the "other" town, I zoned out. Cool stuff about contagion. I must say I appreciated the book a lot more when I heard the author's notes about his research and inspiration. The subject matter is fascinating and I'm glad this book was written. I just wish he'd cleaned it up a tad more. Being an editor is a blessing and a curse. Recommend to folks who like novels about epidemics or WWI but not most others.

  • Megan
    2019-05-03 07:10

    The Last Town on Earth is a wonderfully written book that pits extreme opposites against one another during the tumultuous period of WWI and the disastrous Spanish Flu epidemic. Patriotic duty verses conscientious objectors, capitalism versus socialism and government authority versus anti-authority rebellion square off with earth shattering consequences for the small American town of Commonwealth. This novel will leave you deep in thought, no matter what your political views, long after you have read the final page.

  • Renee
    2019-04-20 08:55

    This was a good novel about the spanish flu in a fictional mill town in the Northeastern US in 1918. I had no idea how badly it affected its victims. I learned a lot while reading this book including the political pro-war climate of the time. Made me thankful once again that I live in a time that I can express dissent and opposition to popular opinion without being labeled a traitor.

  • Jennifer
    2019-05-12 04:46

    This book started out horrifying and then got worse. Not that the book was bad, just that the situations of the major characters and the town went from bad to worse. There were times in this book I could sense what was coming and had to put the book down. The novel was interesting and set in an unusual place and time.

  • Jason
    2019-05-11 10:50

    Clearly, The Last Town on Earth is some kind of commentary on isolationism, one that reads especially relevant in this era of heightened nationalist populism and monoculturalism. It's not that the work is an allegory written with any particular modern context in mind; it's a work of historical fiction set during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, but it's hard to ignore how universal its themes of the perils of shutting one's community off from the scary outside world are. And in this respect, Mullen's first novel works very well. Plotwise too, the novel is unimpeachable (even if (view spoiler)[Elsie??!! How are you going to kill off Elsie??!! (hide spoiler)]), full of moments of ethical quandaries and conflicting perspectives and so effectively utilizing its historical context: the epidemic, WWI, the labor movement, etc. Mullen's prose is fairly spartan, which maybe makes it all resonate less than it might have with more prosaic flourishes, but it's tough to fault an author for just telling a story without a lot of bells and whistles. Characters are well-developed and sympathetic too, even when they do really unlikable things. All in all, maybe this is Mullen's best book. I'll personally take the author's second novel, The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers, which is a hell of a lot more fun, but there's plenty to enjoy here for historical fiction fans or people who just enjoy a neatly-crafted novel.

  • Caleb Hettinga
    2019-04-21 09:59

    Caleb Hettinga10/15/13Mrs. Johnson-Per.1Book Review #1-Grading Period #11.) Introduction: The title of this novel is “The Last Town on Earth”, written by Thomas Mullen. This book was published in Great Britain in 2006 by Fourth Estate. It was printed in Australia by Griffin Press. This book is a suspense-filled thriller that is about the will to survive. Along with the background information, I would also like to tell you about the story in this book.2.) Brief Summary: The world has been hit by the plague of influenza, or the Spanish flu. This flu is very contagious and extremely deadly. Commonwealth is a town in futuristic Western Washington that quarantines their town off from the outside world in order to keep out the plague. “QUARANTINE. ABSOLUTELY NO ENTRY ALLOWED! On account of the Outbreak of INFLUENZA, This Town Under Constant Watch of ARMED Guards. Neither STRANGER Nor FRIEND May Pass Beyond This Marker. May God Protect You” (Mullen 8). This is what is written on a sign posted on the road leading to the town. However, when soldiers come and try to get in, things get stressful. The fate of the town depends on what the guards of Commonwealth do with the soldiers, and a chain of events threatens to drive the small community into the ground. Another important area of this novel to look at is the plot.3.) Plot: The author sets up the plot by having a chain of events occur that all affect Commonwealth and its inhabitants. The defined introduction is about Commonwealth closing itself off and the soldier encounters. The defined rising action is what the guards do to the guards and how this affects the town. “Graham shot him. The sound of the shot made Philip jump, almost made him pull his trigger in a redundant volley” (Mullen 12). This quote tells what the guards did to the soldier. They shot him and killed him. This affects the town quite a bit throughout the progressing story. The defined climax is when the second soldier and Philip are imprisoned inside the storage building. The defined falling action is where Graham kills the second soldier who was being held captive in the storage building. The defined conclusion involves the men from Timber Falls and what they do to the people of peaceful Commonwealth. One other piece of the story that is important to include are characters.4.) Characters: The main characters of the book are Philip, Graham, and Charles. Philip is a 16-year-old who has a peg leg and was adopted by Charles. Philip is a hard worker, has a quiet personality, and he is a nice guy. Graham is an extremely tough, strong, hard-working and honest man who has a soft side to him as well. Charles is the founder of Commonwealth and its mill owner. Charles is very kind, persistent, and caring. He is the peacemaker of conflicts. “Go back home, gentlemen,’ Charles said. ‘Nurse your families. Get Timber Falls back on its feet. After the plague has passed, you’ll see that this has all been a misunderstanding” (Mullen 196). This quote is the perfect example of how Charles is the peacemaker of conflicts. He says this after Commonwealth and the neighboring town of Timber Falls nearly start shooting each other up. Although characters are important to discuss, theme is equally important as well.5.) Theme: The theme of the novel is that plagues, illnesses, disasters, and hard times either pull people together or rip them apart. “The pistol in Bartrum’s hand moved again. Whether he was aiming it or moving it away, Philip wasn’t sure, but he squeezed the rifle’s trigger” (Mullen 374). This is an example of illnesses bringing people tighter together. Philip shoots a man in order to protect his friend Graham and their families. “Walk away and keep walking---walk straight out of town, you hear?” (Mullen 256). This is an example of hard times pulling people apart. Philip is being yelled at and threatened by his neighbors during the flu epidemic. 6.) Author Information: “Thomas Mullen was born and raised in Rhode Island and graduated from Oberlin College. He has lived in Boston; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and now lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife. This book is his first novel” (Mullen 1). This information was quoted from the page behind the book cover.7.) My Opinion: I enjoyed this book very much. It has mystery, murder, conflict, fight scenes, secrets, and much more. This book was interesting, entertaining, exciting, and memorable. You are never bored while reading this book! There is always something unexpected thrown out there that keeps you reading. I would highly recommend this book to other readers because it is a fun, entertainment-filled book full of non-stop action and excitement!

  • Amanda
    2019-04-28 10:47

    I read _The Last Town on Earth_ for the BGSU Common Reading Experience Book Selection Committee. Well, actually I read it twice: first, a very quick skim and hated, then again very closely and realized it actually could be a pretty good CRE choice.In terms of exploring values, this book is perfect. Virtually all the main characters and some of the secondary characters are confronted by values choices at some point in this book, and the author writes the book in a clear enough way that even reader who weren't experienced at picking up on undertones could see how the characters' values were being challenged. From Philip to Graham to Mr. Worthy to Frank to Rebecca, each character struggles between what is right and what is wrong in terms of war time choices and choices regarding an epidemic. I've read many possible CRE books, but this one is by far the most direct about clearly exploring values.Also, _The Last Town on Earth_ is extremely interdisciplinary. Not only could I see academic in the humanities being able to connect to this book but also the hard sciences (there is a lot of medical references, which also explore the different values decisions people in the medical field face in times of need), the social sciences (based on how character interact with one another and themselves), historians (the 1918 setting makes this a perfect lead into discussions on World War 1), folks in business and business administration (there is a lot of discussion about running a mill, which could lead to discussion on entrepreneurship and doing "what's right" for a company), and many more. This book is a strong choice in order to satisfy almost all disciplines. I wonder, too, if it would be easy to get the author to visit and if he wouldn't cost too much because this book was published in 2006 and it's the author's first book...Does anyone know how this writer is with students? The one main drawback for me was the last part of this four-part book. I found Part 4 to be over-dramatic in way novels that are written intentionally for the purpose of striking a movie deal are. The author doesn't tie up the loose threads neatly, but some of the action is a little over the top and feels a bit "untrue" to the characters, especially Philip, the main character. Generally, I'm really skeptical of endings to novels anyways, but this one really fuels my skepticism's fire, which was one reason why I hated the book so much on my first read. After a closer read, though, I really feel that this book merits the CRE's serious consideration. It is a easy read--few "big" words and really strong images and scenes that most readers can easily visual and understand--in addition to it being values-based, interdisciplinary, and contemporary. I really believe it would be a great CRE choice.

  • Graceann
    2019-04-28 10:09

    During the waning days of World War I, a strange flu is spreading throughout the country, and the town of Commonwealth decides to close its borders. Nobody can get in and nobody can leave, until the contagion has passed. Then a starving soldier stumbles up to the border and begs for food and shelter, forcing the sentries to make decisions that will cause unforeseen tremors. At the centre of this maelstrom is Philip Worthy, who has an interesting backstory of his own, but is now working at the timber mill in the office, and is best friends with a young man who has seen more of the ugliness that the world can offer.Over the course of the 400 or so pages, we are introduced to several of the more colourful characters in the town, and Mullen does an excellent job of helping us understand their backstories and motivations. Sometimes, it's difficult to do more than give us a "cardboard cutout" of a person, but The Last Town on Earth doesn't fall into that category. By the end, I cared about even the most minor of the characters, and wondered about what would happen to them after my time with the novel ended. I can offer no higher praise than that.I only give four stars rather than five because, despite a rather stunning start, I had a hard time being drawn into the story. It took me about 100 pages to become invested in Commonwealth's plight, and I did almost put the book down. I'm glad I didn't.

  • Lynne
    2019-05-20 06:14

    Set amongst the 1918 flu pandemic, the trail end of the first world war, and the violence of the emerging labor movement, this book tells the tale of the fictional Northwestern town of Commonwealth which attempts to keep itself healthy by creating a reverse quarantine meant to keep out people with the deadly flu and protect the town. This is an intriguing story with interesting themes and definitely a page-turner at the end. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy Thomas Mullen's writing style. He should be writing non-fiction, especially since the historical non-fiction "author's note" at the end of the book was the most well written chapter in the book and had nothing to do with the story. His style is "boxy" and emotionally detached and for those reasons he should have left out the love story which was fairly gratuitous anyway. Nevertheless, despite the odd writing, the story carries itself and certainly lead me to ponder the predicament the town was in, the morality of the decisions made, and to imagine what may occur should a pandemic flu return. Worth the read, certainly interesting.

  • Djrmel
    2019-04-20 09:46

    A very good historical fiction that includes the 1918 Influenza epidemic, World War I disenters, and the tie between Socialism and unionization in the early 20th century. The story takes place in a logging town established on the principle that sharing the profits with everyone makes everyone profitable. When the "Spanish" flu breaks out in near by towns, the inhabitants agree that they will quarantine themselves until it passes by. Phillip, the adopted son of the owner of the mill is on guard when a starving soldier tries to enter the town, and when he finds himself unable to kill the soldier, the inhabitants true feelings about isolationism come to the surface. There's also the threat from a near by town that questions why so many able bodied lumberjacks managed to avoid going to war when their own sons are being killed in Europe. It's a good read about an event and political opinion that doesn't get a lot of attention, and the main characters have deep backstories that the author uses well to explain their feelings about their current situation.

  • Mary
    2019-04-30 12:09

    All I can say is, "Wow." Not only was this book amazingly well written, concsious of human depth, and amazing in breadth and scope, it was a good read. THe thing I found most interesting about it was the question of how far both you the reader, and the characters within the book are willing to go to save your own life, and the lives of those around you. (At this point continue only if you have already read the book or are not planning on reading it. SPOILER ALERT!) When the town first quarantined itself I was okay with it, I was even okay when Graham shot the soldier, I was still okay when Philip let Frank Summers in. But it got to be too much when they chained Frank up. That's when my acquiescence snapped and I knew that this was crossing the line. It is amazing to see when that reaction happens to which characters and for what reasons. And it is equally puzzling and trying to try to determine what that decision means about yourself. I definitely think this book should be on an AP Reading list, although its newness probably cancels it out of a classic category.

  • Blair
    2019-05-09 09:46

    I remember learning about WWI in history class and it being classified as a classic struggle between good and evil. Much like WWII really was. They fail to mention that while America was drafting it's young men for slaughter overseas the remaining population was being wiped out by the Spanish flu. This is a great book that brings to question patriotism in times of crisis. Much like today. I could see a lot of mirrored ideologies and beliefs with present day conflicts. Is it right to send off our men and women for a war that we should not be involved in? While there are more then enough problems here at home? I also like the personal conflict between the characters revolving around whether the decision to shut the town off from the rest of civilization was the right move. This book is more then just a story based on a historical sidenote, it is a stirring synopsis of what lengths a person will go to in order to protect what they love and belief in.