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The Preservationist

3.41  ·  Rating details ·  287 ratings  ·  99 reviews
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 w
Hardcover, 284 pages
Published October 10th 2013 by Pegasus Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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3.41  · 
Rating details
 ·  287 ratings  ·  99 reviews

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Aug 08, 2013 rated it did not like it
Is Julia a robot, or is she just following a script? Julia doesn't show ANY emotions whatsoever! I know when she is upset because the author is telling me she is, not showing me.

Julia lives in another world where nothing gets through to her. The mystery was okay, but I couldn't enjoy it because ALL the characters are empty, monotonous, insipid, bland and so on.

Let me try to slow down and explain why I found this book and writing weird.

#1. Julia and Marcus: I thought they were adults, but half w
Sep 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a classic psychological thriller, but with the twist that you get to see into the minds of all the characters, not just the victim or a detective. I enjoyed getting the different perspectives, and the way the characters deepened over time in the book. Sam ("the preservationist") was probably the most interesting to me. He's a quirky character, with a distinctive life philosophy, and different from anyone I've ever read about. By the end of the book, I felt like I knew him personally. Jul ...more
Jan 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
Julia is a student at Stradler College when she meets Sam, a 40-year old man who works at the student union snack bar. Meanwhile, Julia is already dating Marcus, a fellow student in her music theory class. She quickly becomes enamored with Sam and tells Marcus the situation. What follows is a series of harrassment between Marcus and Sam, including threats and text messages. Strange things are also happening around Julia's dorm, with her roommate's boyfriend searching the room and a dead cat on t ...more
Carrie Ardoin
Oct 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: tour, i-own-this
While I thought this book started off interestingly enough, it took quite some time for it to engage me again after the beginning. I actually almost gave up on reading it a couple of times.

There are only three main characters in the book: college freshman Julia, her would-be paramour Marcus, and the guy she actually ends up hooking up with, Sam. I'll tell you first and foremost the thing that bothered me about Sam: he's 39 years old and he works in a college diner. Not only does NO ONE think thi
Sep 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Suspenseful. Compulsively readable. Stunningly written. A must read.
Reeka (BoundbyWords)
As seen on my blog:

The Preservationist was a disturbing portrayal of how extreme desperation could lead to false trust. The characters were one-tiered, but held enough baggage for you to become invested in their lives, and the situations they got themselves into. Justin Kramon must have been an American Psycho fan, because there were some noted quirks that mirrored the actions of our good ol' Mr. Bateman.

I caught on, quite early in the book, to the intents and purposes of a certain m
Gina Hart
Sep 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I could not put this thriller down! The characters are so thoughtfully developed; they stay with you long after you've finished the novel. Each character reveals deep dimension with unexpected aspects that let you know you're reading something fresh. Kramon populates an imperfect world with imperfect characters that force the reader to expect more than the usual. He writes a thriller for the modern age complete with heart pounding google searches and desperate text messages...definitely this gen ...more
Oct 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 rela ...more
Jan 06, 2014 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I read it in one day, basically one sitting that was interrupted by doing laundry. I didn't even use a bookmark. If you've read his other novel, this is nothing like it. Once I laughed aloud and my husband said "Isn't that book kind of murdery?" And I responded, "Yeah, but kind of funny, too."

I couldn't put it down. I stayed up until midnight to finish it. I wish I had stretched it out longer because it was that good. The perfect book to read while I'm still in the middle of A
Sep 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was one of those books where I put it down thinking, "Wow, that was SO GOOD!" I loved the way it moved between the different characters. You really get to know them and they are all crazy but interesting and have alot of sides to them. I wasn't sure at first what kind of story it would be, because at first it seemed like a love story. But then you find out more about Julia's past and Sam and it changes. I stayed up reading until 4 o'clock and the end was AMAZING! I definately would watch th ...more
Jan 08, 2014 added it
Julia really needed to read The Gift of Fear.
Oct 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Preservationist: Justin Kramon

Images can be created to suit whatever situations we face and all too often we can adjust these images the same way a photographer adjusts the lens in his/her camera before taking a picture and that final image appears within that camera’s lens. Julia Stilwell created a image for those she met in college as a quiet, shy and guarded young woman trying to cope with a tragedy in her life yet never letting her guard down or allowing others to get too close. Reflect
Jun 09, 2014 rated it did not like it
Let me preface my review by saying that I do NOT like “thriller” books, or TV shows for that matter. But distaste would be a generous way to describe my feelings toward this novel.

Because I work in a library where there is a Preservation Department, I expected The Preservationist to be about someone who spent his or her days repairing paintings, attaching new spines to tattered books, and painstakingly restoring damaged maps and other artifacts. Not so. As we learn several chapters into the book
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great storyline

Enjoyed this book very much. Great characters. Quite scary at times!!! . Believable.
Recommended if you enjoy a good thriller.
Jan 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book very quickly introduces the reader to the three main characters -- Julia, Sam, and Marcus -- and it becomes clear immediately that all three are dealing with myriad issues that range from dealing with tragedy and the varied emotions - including massive amounts of guilt and self-hatred - and reactions that have resulted, to the disturbing and even nefarious. You know from the get-go that one of these people will be the so-called villain of the piece, and it's possible to figure out who ...more
Jul 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2014
I read "The Preservationist" because I LOVED "Finny" (Kramon's debut novel), but the author's second book was *so* not my thing.

To be fair, the book probably doesn't deserve a low rating. It's not poorly-written. There are a lot of things about it that were very well done. The characters are convincingly-drawn. Julia's defense mechanism quick wit and her father's false cheerfulness in the face of tragedy just about broke my heart. His unconditional love for her was exactly what it should have be
Jun 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Actual Rating: 3.5/5 stars

A review copy was provided for an honest review. The Preservationist is an unusual psychological thriller suffused with intrigue. It opens with the central character Julia Stilwell's POV and from there takes off in a dark direction. At a moderate pace it introduces three characters alternating perspectives and twines their lives together. It's unexpectedly engrossing and suspenseful. It engaged me from the first few chapters, curiosity will promptly incite readers for
Aug 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tlc-book-tours, arc
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 i
Jan 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: am-i-thrilled
There's a line Marcus says toward the end of the book "I'm such a goddamn waste" when his rental car is caught in a snowdrift on his way to rescue Julia.

This is kind of how I felt about the book. It was a waste. A waste of my time and the poor trees converted into paper on which the words were printed on.

It was an easy, fast read - one saving grace; there were some beautiful descriptions and phrases, second saving grace but alas, not enough to save this novel, which felt more of a novella.

I felt
nomadreader (Carrie D-L)
(originally published at

The basics: Julia, a first-year student at a small Pennsylvania College, is recovering from tragedy. Sam, a loner who works at the college and harbors a fascination with Julia, is struggling to come to terms with turning forty. Marcus, a fellow first-year student, seems to have secrets of his own, as well as a fascination with Julia.

My thoughts: Everybody seemed to rave about Finny, Justin Kramon's debut novel I somehow never got around
Laurie Treacy
Oct 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
(From a blog tour stop: The Preservationist by Justin Kramon is one of those sneaky psychological thrillers--the type with simple language which is far from simple and 'quiet' characters with huge secrets trying to lead quiet, simple lives. Julia, 18, is a college freshman adjusting to a new way of life after suffering a family tragedy and the loss of her brother. She meets fellow student Marcus and she likes his 'quiet' ways, but she is also drawn to th ...more
Stephanie Ward
3.5 Stars

'The Preservationist' is a gripping psychological thriller that tells the story of Julia as she attempts to create a normal life as a freshman at college. Things seem to be working out well and she's even dating a cute guy named Marcus. Then there's Sam, the cute guy who works at the campus snack bar. Julia and Sam begin to form a friendship and their relationship quickly escalates into something more serious. All the major characters in the book - Julia, Marcus, and Sam - are keeping s
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
The Preservationist by Justin Kramon is a psychological thriller due to be released on October 10, 2013. Julia Stilwell, a freshman at Pennsylvania’s Stradler College, recently experienced a family tragedy that she is trying to keep secret. She is still struggling with the emotional ramifications of this major event when she meets Marcus Broley, a fellow student who seems genuinely interested in her. When 39 year old Sam Blount also shows an interest in her and secretly arranges a way for them t ...more
Nov 18, 2013 rated it really liked it

The Preservationist was not what I was expecting. I was expecting a young girl meets older guy with a guy on the side type book. Nothing to out of the ordinary and just your average college story.

I got none of that. This was about a college girl and 2 guys but, not so much in the gushy romance way. Julia is the girl and I have to say that I think she was void of real emotion. She made silly decisions where a rational person wouldn't have made. She is kind of messed up from grieving over her bro
Nov 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
It's fall, and new students have arrived on campuses across the nation, each ready to start a new chapter in their life. This is a time for making new friends, for learning to make your own decisions about how you'll spend your time and studies, for finding a new group and attempting to fit in, maybe for a new love.

Julia, Sam and Marcus have all arrived at the college town, each bringing with them hopes and dreams as well as the baggage of their past lives. Each is a bit introverted, preferrin
Barbara Mitchell
Nov 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes I wonder why I continue to read psychological thrillers. I nearly had a heart attack reading this one. When I know a character has a mental disorder so no one can predict what he or she might do next, it just scares the heck out of me. In this expertly crafted thriller, I couldn't even decide which of my suspects was the threat for sure until late in the book.

The heroine is Julia Stilwell, a freshman at Stradler College in Pennsylvania. She's a bit of a loner and certainly not like the
Nov 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Preservationist
Justin Kramon


This is a totally absorbing seemingly innocent tale of Sam, Julia and Marcus and the frightening things that happen to all of them!

My thoughts after reading this book...

This book turned out to be nothing like I thought it would be. I thought it would be calm, pretty, quirky and perhaps just a teensy bit on the dysfunctional side. It turned out to be utterly absorbing and unsettling and so good I could not stop reading it. It starts out so innocentl
Megan Strang
Sep 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Julia Stilwell is a college freshman grieving the loss of her brother, the fallout from which her family is still struggling to overcome. She’s also acclimating to a new school, lifestyle, and two mysterious suitors.

Sam Blount and Marcus Broley are vying for Julia's affection. Each seem like nice enough men -- but each have their quirks.

The novel alternates between these three narrators. It moves at a quick clip, from Julia and Marcus’ first date, to Sam’s pursuit and Julia’s wavering interest
Laura Kay Bolin
Aug 02, 2013 rated it really liked it

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 t
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Something Old, So...: October 2013 - The Preservationist by Justin Kramon 3 14 Oct 18, 2013 10:11PM  

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Justin Kramon is the author of the novel Finny, published by Random House in July, 2010.

A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he has published stories in Glimmer Train, Story Quarterly, Boulevard, Fence, TriQuarterly, and others. He has received honors from the Michener-Copernicus Society of America, Best American Short Stories, the Hawthornden International Writers’ Fellowship, and the Boglia