Verdict: In its exuberance, THE PRESERVATIONISTS feels like a bit of Kerouac, but with a lot more detail and localized conservatism. As part of this process, the author paints an illustrative and moving portrait of millennial vexation and teenage angst.
Daniel is poised to begin his life in the world after graduating from high school when his mother mysteriously passes away in the middle of night, leaving him and his twin brother to fend for themselves. An artistically inclined kid who ruminates and dreams absentmindedly when walking around the woods near his house, Daniel shares little in common with his brother, and the two often spar over trivialities in their now displaced existence. Unable to find work in his somewhat depressed hometown, Daniel strikes out on his own, landing a job at a farm several miles away. The farm work is difficult and imposing, and the woman who runs the place is a self-described disciplinarian, who ends up being much kinder than she appears at first glance.
Daniel’s life begins to perk up dramatically when he meets Amelia, a freckled local beauty who invites him for a saunter in the nearby woods. Daniel becomes crestfallen upon learning that the girl he just fell in love with just wants to be his friend. And so it is: Daniel is a hapless, artistically inclined, sensitive, and romantic boy who seldom attains the life that he wants. Like all coming-of-age stories of this ilk, it’s not a lot of fun to go through, but one that is interesting to reflect on from a reader’s distance.
Author Jason Daniels narrates his tale with amazing flare and deftness. He’s got a clever knack of turning a whole episode, such as a rather uneventful train trip through the countryside, into a dynamic enterprise, as the characters immerse themselves into their varying biographical highlights. Another thing Daniels does well is describing the places his characters inhabit with a precision and detail that seems to have been abandoned in the modern age of novel writing, detailing every aspect of the rooms or scene in which Daniel, the protagonist, finds himself.
In its exuberance, THE PRESERVATIONISTS feels like a bit of Kerouac, but with a lot more detail and localized conservatism (ie among other examples, Kerouac liked smoking weed; Daniel sticks to beer). As part of this process, the author paints an illustrative and moving portrait of millennial vexation and teenage angst.
~MP Gunderson for IndieReader