The Last Town on Earth in it of itself is an interesting read because unlike most historical fictions, the author does not drag the story with too many details, but captivates its reader with re occurring themes such as the irrational behaviors during a crisis, the American reluctance to enter World War I, the attitude towards war – which keeps the plot from fading away.
Thomas Mullen brings the setting of his first novel in a mill town called Commonwealth in the remote northern forests of Washington, which was founded on progressive and socialistic ideals. Come autumn of 1918, the deadly Spanish Influenza engulfs the globe in the last few months of World War I. To protect itself from the outbreak, the town comes together and votes for a quarantine, in which no one is allowed to enter the town and no one who leaves, is allowed to return until the infection has settled.
The once upstanding city – a symbol of freedom and security – suddenly becomes a prison. Over time, the citizens divide into the guards and the guarded, and outward physical health comes to seem more like a sign of inward moral corruption. Mullen
gives this concept a more vivid form in one of the opening scenes. An outsider dressed in what appears to be the dirty uniform of a soldier advanced towards the entryway to the quarantined town. Two civilian guards raise their rifles, and ordered him to stop, but when one guard fires and the other doesn’t, a remarkable series of plot twists is set into motion. Soon enough, a second stranger will appear, starving, begging, and Philip, the guard who didn’t fire, will face him alone. By the time the influenza breaches
Commonwealth, the other guard, Graham, a married man who “feared his own coldness”, has let oblation transform his heart.
Their engagements take place in a detailed historical context. “Four-minute men” leap into action to pitch war bonds; a gold star flag is suspended from the window of a