The Preservationist: A Novel

The Preservationist: A Novel

by Justin Kramon


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The Preservationist: A Novel by Justin Kramon

An irresistible psychological thriller about a love triangle on a college campus that will leave readers guessing until the very endTo Sam Blount, meeting Julia is the best thing that has ever happened to him. Unsuccessful in his previous relationships, he is 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781605984803
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Publication date: 10/10/2013
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Justin Kramon, author of Finny, is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has published stories in Glimmer Train, Story Quarterly, Boulevard, Fence, TriQuarterly, and Alaska Quarterly review. He has received honors from the Michener-Copernicus Society of America, Best American Short Stories, the Hawthornden international Writers’ Fellowship, and the Bogliasco Foundation. He lives in Philadelphia.


The Baltimore-born author Justin Kramon's supporting characters are so quirky and funny, you'd swear they were drawn from real life. There's the landfill operator who shows a visitor a photograph of a hatchet-faced woman in her 60s and then complains that no one understands the burden of having a pretty wife. And there's the big-bellied, bearded lodge owner who's secretly addicted to online shopping. The landfill operator and lodge owner provide comic relief in "The Preservationist," a psychological thriller in which the three main characters explore different ways to cope with loss. The novel is a classic romantic triangle that alternates the point of view between Julia, a troubled college freshman, and Marcus and Sam, her two increasingly untrustworthy suitors.You're a thirty-something guy. Why do both of your books have teenage girls as their main characters? Basically, I'm a young woman in disguise. I'm lightly joking, but I've always been drawn to books by women and about women. People talk about male writers as being interested in politics, war and global issues. When people refer to women's fiction — and I don't believe in that label — they're talking about books dealing with relationships, psychology and family, which is the stuff I'm interested in.What inspired you to write "The Preservationist"? I started "The Preservationist" in 2011 during a year when I was reading a lot of thrillers. I had lost a couple of people that year, and I began experiencing a kind of grayness and flatness while I was reading the domestic fiction that I had loved for a long time. These thrillers kind of opened me back up to reading fiction. It's funny — if you're having a hard time in your life, you'd think you'd want to read not-dark stuff. You'd think you'd want to escape. But one way people cope with darkness is to move toward darkness. It speaks to one reason thrillers have maintained their popularity for such a long time. So I thought I'd write a book about what it's like for a young woman dealing with family issues and loss.Was it difficult to channel a teenage girl's voice? The way I deal with life is to angle it through a character to get some perspective rather than being confessional. There are some advantages to writing in the voice of someone who is a little bit different from you. In real life, your face is right against the canvas. Going back and forth between different characters allows you to get some of the distance you can't get in the real world. When you're a little different from the character, if you share a few traits, it's like having a backyard that's adjacent to someone else's yard. There's a border that you can touch. When you think about how someone else's experience intersects with yours, that common ground is the landscape of fiction.George Eliot said that the purpose of fiction is to expand sympathy. Books don't save the world, but ideas can make you more human.

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The Preservationist: A Novel 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
nfmgirl More than 1 year ago
Julia is a freshman in college. She is coming out of an unimaginable year in which she lost her brother, and her life is finally beginning to feel normal once again. Then she meets two men. One man, Marcus, is a young man she met in class. He's cute and seems sweet, and she is comfortable talking with him, bantering lightheartedly. The second man is an older man she met at a cafe on campus, and she feels a shared sympathy with him, as he seems to understand her pain over losing her brother. Sam is intense and almost ingratiatingly easy to get along with. Julia makes her choice between these two men, but then begins to wonder whether she made the right choice. Both men accuse the other of dishonesty and dangerous behavior. At the same time, there are rapes occurring on campus, and both men appear as possible suspects. Could either of them be guilty of such a thing? And then there is a third man thrown into the mix, just to confuse things further. Before you know it, Julia is being consumed with paranoia, trusting no one. She no longer can trust her own judgements, and doubts her own decisions. And then she finds herself in real danger, and doesn't know which way to turn. I think this story was really character-driven. It flits through alternating perspectives, and you are always inside of the head of one of the characters, seeing things through their eyes. You are fed little bits of the story, and it builds slowly. And even though you are in the heads of the characters, you still aren't sure what the truth really is. This is one of those stories that I feel seems to have a moral or lesson to be learned from it, but I'm not really sure what it is. What is to be learned from all of this? I don't know. How NOT to be? Where poor judgement will get you? How foolish the young can be? Perhaps it isn't intended to have a moral to the story, but it has that feeling. The story felt a little choppy at times. There were some things that sort of left off unfinished or vague or simply alluded to. But overall it had a good flow. My final word: This book was very easy to read, and the characters were pretty well developed. I found myself on the edge of my seat for much of it, not sure where it was going to go. There were so many suspicious characters introduced that you just weren’t sure “whodunit”. It was enjoyable, yet left me with a frustratingly disappointed feeling that I can't quite put a finger on. Although I was left with the feeling that the story was somewhat...insubstantial, I found it overall to be a worthwhile read, and I would give the author another go-around.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings CREEPY!  This book was high on the creepy factor, especially thinking about my college years and how many times I put my trust in someone that I hadn't known for a long time.  Julia is a freshman who has come to school with some emotional baggage that she is still dealing with; she must try to concentrate and put herself first.  Marcus is another student who falls quickly for Julia, but is beat out by a man (Sam) who works at the local snack bar who is definitely a fan of coeds.   There were a few moments were I physically cringed and had to put the down for a minute to collect myself - not for the faint of heart.  I was glad to hear the stories from all angles - Julia, Marcus and Sam each have moments where they narrate the story and the reader is given each of their perspectives.  The one that creeped me out the most was Sam - he was nuts.  I enjoyed when Julia was narrating, maybe it is because I am a female that went to a small school, but I liked reading from her point of view the most.
Delphimo More than 1 year ago
The Preservationist thunders as a compelling first novel. The shift in voices reminds me of Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury. The setting seems a little obscure, I know the book starts during fall and the big climax happens close to Christmas and in Pennsylvania. The characters are not numerous, therefore the villain can easily be one of three men: Drew, Sam, or Marcus. Kramon spends many pages focusing on Sam and his strange habits and his miserable life, but then Marcus seems to carry a secret about a girl named Tree, and Drew is caught searching Julia's belongings. Which man is the rapist? The other point in the story is how parents handle the loss of a child. Julia's brother is killed in a car accident, and her parents seem to forget her existence. Kramon’s characterization of Julia is not as strong as that of Sam. Julia is not a sympathetic victim. I enjoyed this book and would recommend to other readers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a lover of thrillers-especially fond of Mr. Kramons, ability to create in detail and in my mind what each scene truly looks and feels like. I know exactly what the cafeteria, the driveway to the cabin and the cabin look like-down to the fabric and furniture. To me, this is a talent not all writer possess-but Justin Kramon does. I felt the same experience when I read Finny. Bravo Justin! The Preservationist kept my creep meter working - I didn't want to put the book down! Susan S.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
anovelreview_blogspot_com More than 1 year ago
I'm not one who reads many thrillers, but Justin Kramon's new book THE PRESERVATIONIST really sounded good. The novel definitely starts off with a creepy feeling factor. Julia is just starting off a relationship with Marcus and Marcus seems a little...different. Then she kinda has a thing with Sam, also seems a little creepy! The guy is almost forty and likes being around young college kids. As I first began reading, I really didn't feel any connection to the characters. They seemed flat for awhile. However, as the relationship between Sam and Julia really began to develop Julia begins to open up. She feels safe with him and really begins to share, this seemed to help me to understand her more. Just as their relationship begins to blossom, Julia is hit with a shocking revelation. Everything becomes complicated. A threat takes over the college. And Marcus reappears trying to destroy their relationship. Overall the story itself isn't shocking (though I was taken back by the ending). With that being said, I still found THE PRESERVATIONIST to be enthralling! With each chapter I was further transported into a dark world where someone was always watching. At the end of most chapters, I would stop and  catch my breath, as my heart was racing. I could hardly put the book down! I am highly recommending THE PRESERVATIONIST!
sneps More than 1 year ago
Excellent Psychological Thriller!! I read this book in one very long road trip-17 hours to be exact. Driving from Houston, Tx to a small town in Tennessee…down dark roads, with not much traffic on the way, made for a very scary read!!! This is the perfect book to read, with Halloween fast approaching. However, it can really be read any time throughout the year….just be prepared for some goose bumps along the way! The story centers around Julia and her relationships with two men: Marcus and Sam. I loved that the storyteller alternated between characters, which gave me a bird’s eye view into their mind and ways they reasoned their behavior/actions. Each have their own secrets, their own issues, and their own reasons for doing what they do. Julia could be any young college student, dealing with grief, and feeling quite alone. Sam reminded me of Norman Bates…even with his warped mother issues, although nothing incestuous. Marcus is the typical college student, however he also is dealing with grief. When their worlds collide, the storyline moves quite rapidly. I loved the feeling of being on the edge of my seat, not knowing what was going to happen next, and trying to figure out how Julia decides which man to give her heart to….or does she??? This is a very creepy, chilling read that shows the making of a serial killer (who is that?), and how one attempts to escape the clutches of a mad man. Being isolated, Julia finds herself making decisions based on persuasion, rather than instinct, and she finds herself in quite a difficult situation. I loved the book from the beginning to end, and found myself watching the gas station clerks a little more closely, when we’d stop en route to Tennessee! The ending made me cringe. The very last sentence…while some may get warm and fuzzy feelings. I felt the opposite. I’m not sure if that is what the author wanted from the readers, but knowing that a lie was told had me thinking if the cycle would continue in some weird, subconscious way. Either way- it left me thinking…. What I learned: Trust your instinct and never, ever stay in a cabin on a lonely road!! I absolutely loved this book! If you love psychological thrillers, mysteries, and want a great read-then pick up this book! It’s a fantastic story!!-Books in the Burbs
JerseyGirlBookReviews More than 1 year ago
The Preservationist is a heart pounding dark psychological thriller that keeps the reader sitting on the edge of their seats. Set in Pennsylvania, author Justin Kramon weaves a riveting tale that follows the intricate love triangle between Julia Stilwell, Sam Blount, and Marcus Broley. Told in alternating points of view, the readers follows the blossoming relationship between eighteen year old college freshman Julia Stilwell and thirty-nine college snack bar employee Sam Blount, and how the relationship starts to unravel when college student Marcus Broley becomes infatuated with Julia and wants her for himself. This fast paced edgy tale has enough suspenseful twists and turns that keeps the reader on their toes as they try to guess what would happen next. Julia, Sam and Marcus each have issues and dark secrets in their lives that makes their intertwined relationships intriguing as the tension builds and obsession, deception and trust becomes an issue. You can't help but get caught up in this chilling story of obsession as the tangled web that these three people weave becomes destructive. The suspense is palpable and keeps the reader turning the pages until the satisfying yet very twisted ending. The Preservationist has all the elements that psychological thriller fans crave. Author Justin Kramon provides the reader with an intriguing dark tale that takes the reader on one hell of a heart pounding roller coaster ride.
MissBethBC More than 1 year ago
Yes, I lost a perfectly good night's sleep in my quest to read The Preservationist.  This was the surprise read of my year.  I was expecting this to be a love story between archaeologists.    Who else "preserves" things?    I must be narrow minded, thinking like that, huh?   There are different types of preservationists and I well know that now! Words I can describe this read with include captivating, dark, haunting and sad.  The Preservationist is a very well written book.   The characters are very well developed and believable.   Written in differing voices with each chapter, the book "preserved" revelation of who could be trusted until late into the book. For those who enjoy a good psychological thriller, this book is a must read.