Rainer Maria Rilke

"Live a while in these books, learn from them what seems to you worth learning, but above all love them. This love will be repaid you a thousand and a thousand times, and however your life may turn,-it will, I am certain of it, run through the fabric of your growth as one of the most important threads among all the threads of your experiences, disappointments, and joys."--Rainer Maia Rilke

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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Dashed Expectations: The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen

The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen

Realistic Fiction

Dash it all!

When I first read of this book, I could not wait to get it and read it.  I imagined myself spellbound, held captive by this fascinating period in American history.  I just knew I wouldn't be able to part with it and, after reading it, I would race to the library to continue reading about this fascinating subject.

The topic of the Spanish flu has fascinated since I wrote an article about it for our local paper, following a season of particularly virulent flu in our area.  I became fascinated with the topic and was shocked to learn how close this hit to my own family when my mother-in-law told me much of her own family had been taken as victims in the strain.  It isn't a topic that most people want to talk about and it was a topic that was very hard to research.  When I found a fiction book about it, I knew I would love it!

Rather what I got with this book was a big dose of World War I history with a smidgen of the flu thrown in.  The book is not poorly written or awful; it's just okay.  What makes my review so low is my dashed expectations after reading teasing trailers.  This is not a story of the flu--the flu epidemic isn't really discussed in detail until more than halfway in.  Rather this is a story about a lot of other things--socialist created utopian towns, labor and union violence, World War I draft and conscientious objector viewpoints, loyalists and patriots, German prejudice, etc., etc., etc.  There was so much going on in the book that it just became distracting and I started to care very little about what happened to any of them.  It isn't one tragedy but rather dozens of little backstories that didn't take me very far as a reader.  Most of the book felt like a dogpaddle in a flat pond--no real excitement.  This easily could be have a better book if the author had focused on one moment in time, one character, rather than a retelling of the whole scope of the era.

Dash it all!  I am still on the look for a good book about the Spanish flu...

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