Sunday, July 1, 2018

Book Review: Some Will Not Die

Book Review: 'Some Will Not Die' by Algis Budrys

2 / 5 Stars

'Some Will Not Die' (283 pp) was published by Dell in October 1979; the stirking cover art is by Maelo Cintron.

'Some' is an expansion of Budrys's first novel, 'False Night', published in 1954. The book's status as a fix-up may have much to do with its failings..............

The book's underlying premise is that in the near future a plague of unknown origin decimates most of the Earth's population. 

Among the empty streets and buildings of New York City, a young man named Matthew Garvin learns that humanity has sunk to the level of barbarism, and survival belongs to those willing to fight for it. Garvin eventually meets an older man named Gustav Berendtsen, and together the two form their own primitive government in Manhattan.

These early chapters are effective at portraying an abandoned New York City in the grip of anarchy, and the take-no-prisoners nature of the conflicts between the haves and have-nots.

Unfortunately, as 'Some' progresses, author Budrys focuses the narrative on the actions of the descendants of Garvin and Berendtsen and their efforts to expand the government created by their fathers; this expansion effort involves subjugating other groups in the Eastern U.S., and generates tensions among the Garvin and Berendtsen clans. 

Much of the narrative in these chapters is reliant on passages featuring lengthy conversations designed to address the deep political and moral questions raised by the cost of re-establishing civilization in a world that - in some quarters - does not relish the prospect of reviving the Old Order.

Confusing matters is a secondary, interwoven plotline, set further into the future, in which a team of militiamen wander the bleak, dangerous reaches of the Midwest, investigating the myth of a still-living Berendtsen.

The closing chapters of the book gradually lose cohesion and seem more like vignettes introduced for the purposes of lengthening the manuscript to a designated page count, rather than developments integral to the advancement of the story.

Summing up, like the other Budrys novels I have read (or attempted to read), 'Some Will Not Die' is yet another disappointing example of a worthwhile premise brought low by poor execution. I really can't recommend this novel to anyone save those who are devoted to Budrys's fiction.

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