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The last town on earth : a novel
Thomas Mullen
Adult Fiction MULLEN

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From Publishers' Weekly:

It is the autumn of 1918 and a world war and an influenza epidemic rage outside the isolated utopian logging community of Commonwealth, Wash. In an eerily familiar climate of fear, rumor and patriotic hysteria, the town enacts a strict quarantine, posting guards at the only road into town. A weary soldier approaches the gate on foot and refuses to stop. Shots ring out, setting into motion a sequence of events that will bring the town face-to-face with some of the 20th-century's worst horrors. Mullen's ambitious debut is set against a plausibly sketched background, including events such the Everett Massacre (between vigilantes and the IWW), the political repression that accompanied the U.S. entry into WWI and the rise of the Wobblies. But what Mullen supplies in terms of historical context, he lacks in storytelling; though the novel is set in 1918, it was written in a post 9/11 world where fear of bird flu regularly makes headlines, and the allegory is heavy-handed (the protagonist townie, after all, is named Philip Worthy). The grim fascination of the narrative, however, will keep readers turning the pages. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Set in 1918, with World War I raging in Europe and a deadly flu epidemic spreading to and through America, this is the story of a town that decides to take its fate into its own hands. The committee members of the Washington town of Commonwealth decide to set up an armed outpost to prevent those infected with influenza from getting in. Young guards Graham, a mill worker, and Philip, the 16-year-old adopted son of the mill owner, reluctantly murder a soldier from a local fort who tries to force his way in. A few days later, a second soldier attempts to gain entry. Philip, alone this time, can't shoot the man, and the youth and soldier end up quarantined together. Yet despite the town's precautions, the plague arrives and wreaks graphically depicted havoc. Debut novelist Mullen patiently unfolds the plot, using historical facts as a springboard. His long and absorbing novel is a timely and sobering look back at a nation during a deadly war involving a human enemy far away, a disease at home, fear, and political and cultural forces. Recommended for all collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/06.]-Jim Coan, SUNY Coll. at Oneonta, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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