Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Fiction | Secrets & Lies in a Thrilling Sophomore Novel

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Several months ago, I was sent Justin Kramon’s newest book, The Preservationist, after reading and loving his debut novel, Finny. If you’ve read Finny, let me just say…this follow-up is not similar in style and theme! Kramon has gone dark with his sophomore novel. The Preservationist is all thriller, where you don’t know who’s good, who’s bad, who you can trust, and who’s hiding something.

The perspective of this one varies from chapter to chapter, a characteristic I really enjoy in novels. There are three main characters—Sam, Julia, and Marcus—and as the story is told, their lives intersect and relationships are formed. 
The voice we hear most often is that of Sam—a quiet guy working as a cook in the dining hall of the local college. He’s approaching his 40th birthday, but he’s young-looking and enjoys his work atmosphere surrounded by energetic youth. Kramon seems to write him as one with a bit of arrested development; it’s surprising to find out how old he is, because he’s constantly questioning his life and past relationships as would someone typically much younger. 
If we hear Sam’s voice most often, it’s Julia that is most often the focus. She’s a freshman at the college and immediately grabs Sam’s attention; she’s the one that could make up for all those failed relationships of his past. He’s smitten with her, and she shows interest too, but Julia is a bit scarred from a tragedy in her own past that she’s having trouble coming to terms with.
Then we have Marcus, another guy smitten with Julia. They share several classes and a love of music, but Marcus also his own secrets, so as you can see, we’re never really sure who to trust. Especially when violence breaks out on campus with girls disappearing.
I didn’t dislike The Preservationist, but it is definitely not what I was expecting!! “Thriller” might actually be the wrong descriptor for it; my heart was pounding like I was watching a horror movie… and I do not like horror movies, because they are scary and it gets they stay in my head and then I can’t sleep and become mistrustful of people! 
So in regards to this, Kramon did an excellent job of scaring the crap out of me. [Do not read late at night nor when you are home alone!] Until the climactic ending, I really never knew who to trust and who to fear. So props to you sir, for your excellent creepy writing, but now I’m going to go watch cartoons and the Disney Channel.


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