Some Will Not Die Paperback – Jun 12 1980
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Heroes are seen by many people in many ways. This novel shows the hero from the view of someone who knew him and didn't know he was meeting a hero. It's an important work.
It's also a lot of fun to read.
It begins conventionally enough (following a prologue set some years later) with a super-plague, possibly developed by one of the competing parties of the Cold War, tearing through the U.S. and presumably, the rest of the world. The reader follows the path of Matt Garvin, a young survivor who strives to make a life for himself in an emptied on Manhattan. As the book progresses, the reader is offered glimpses of various stages of Matt and his family's life, alternating with the plot line from the prologue. Unfortunately, this approach in a fairly short novel leads to a pronounced lack of character development and plot twists that seem almost random. Moreover, there is only the vaguest connection between the prologue and the main body of the text, which makes for jarring transitions.
To his credit, Budrys does introduce some interesting theories regarding the development of civilization and the allocation of labor, but they are rarely well integrated into the plot, and therefore come across more like lecturing than story telling. Finally, the conclusions of both sections are so overwrought as to be almost laughable.
Ultimately, this isn't a terrible book, but it's not a very good one either. The character development is weak, and breaks off just when it is getting interesting. In addition, there is no unifying theme to the work, and finally, the book is riddled with typos. If you are a big fan of post-apocalyptic fiction, it may be worth reading if for no other reason than its premise is largely believable, which is rare in a genre riddled with absurdity. If you are indifferent to post-apocalyptic fiction, I would pass on "Some Will Not Die" as it doesn't have anything to offer when removed from the context of the genre.
Budrys has written only a few books, because he is very selective about the topics he chooses. Each book makes a statement that he felt to be important and worthwhile - and this one is no exception. Some Will Not Die is very well written, although poorly edited, and shows clear signs that the author was well acquainted with the grim realities of military life. Perhaps because it was assembled from independently-written sections, it adopts a flashback format that leaves a rather disjointed impression. Nevertheless, it is a book you will surely remember - both for its action and its ideas.