To Sam Blount, meeting Julia is the best thing that has ever happened to him.
Working at the local college and unsuccessful in his previous relationships, he’d been feeling troubled about his approaching fortieth birthday, “a great beast of a birthday,” as he sees it, but being with Julia makes him feel young and hopeful. Julia Stilwell, a freshman trying to come to terms with a recent tragedy that has stripped her of her greatest talent, is flattered by Sam’s attention. But their relationship is tested by a shy young man with a secret, Marcus Broley, who is also infatuated with Julia.
Told in alternating points of view, The Preservationist is the riveting tale of Julia and Sam’s relationship, which begins to unravel as the threat of violence approaches and Julia becomes less and less sure whom she can trust.
Hmmm. I am left a bit confused by how I feel about The Preservationist. It was creepy and unsettling and sometimes nauseating and I definitely felt like looking behind me when I walked to my car across campus last night. It was a quick read and I had to race through the last few chapters to find out what happened. These are generally characteristics I enjoy in a thriller. However, another thing I like about thrillers is plot twists and mysteries and surprises and something about the plot of this book just felt so… obvious. Obvious to the point that I think maybe I was supposed to know who was untrustworthy from the beginning. But then, if I’m supposed to feel like something is off with a character, isn’t it better if it sort of creeps up on me the way it did in Gone Girl or The Dinner or The Haunting of Hill House rather than loudly blares the serial killer alert from the very beginning?
And since I can’t stop talking about multiple POVs, I ought to point out that Kramon uses multiple POVs here. It was sort of interestingly deployed as we get third person perspectives from Julia, Marcus, and Sam. And they all lie or hide things from the reader, which is sort of jarring in a multiple third-person POV situation because it starts to feel omniscient and then you realize that oh, wait, no, they’re lying to me (to themselves?) again. I will say that this book would not have been anything special without the multiple POVs and I actually liked its use here quite a bit.
I definitely enjoyed this book more than I did not enjoy it, but I feel like it was missing something that would bump it into the omgawesome bracket. I do look forward to seeing if Kramon writes any more thrillers (his debut was a coming of age story) because there is definite potential here.
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