The Last Town on Earth by Thomas MullenRealistic 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...