Review: Life on the Preservation by Jack Skillingstead

June 26, 2013 3.5 stars, Book Review 8 ★★★½

Pabkins’ One Liner: Groundhog’s Day meets Alien Under the Dome.

Life on the Preservation

Inside the Seattle Preservation Dome it’s always the Fifth of October, the city caught in an endless time loop. “Reformed” graffiti artist Ian Palmer is the only one who knows the truth, and he is desperate to wake up the rest of the city before the alien Curator of this human museum erases Ian’s identity forever. Discover the reality bending SF of this new author in this astonishing story.Inside the Seattle Preservation Dome it’s always the Fifth of October, the city caught in an endless time loop. “Reformed” graffiti artist Ian Palmer is the only one who knows the truth, and he is desperate to wake up the rest of the city before the alien Curator of this human museum erases Ian’s identity forever. Outside the Dome the world lies in apocalyptic ruin. Small town teenager Kylie is one of the few survivors to escape both the initial shock wave and the effects of the poison rains that follow. Now she must make her way across the blasted lands pursued by a mad priest and menaced by skin-and-bone things that might once have been human. Her destination is the Preservation, and her mission is to destroy it. But once inside, she meets Ian, and together they discover that Preservation reality is even stranger than it already appears.


Life on the Preservation contains strong adult content and may not be appropriate for all readers.

Life on the Preservation wasn’t anything like I thought it would be. Now that is both true and not true in a sense. It was exactly what the book description said: One guy stuck in a domed city, while the outside world is mostly nothing but a post apocalyptic wasteland. That is what it was but that is not what the story was at it’s core. I think this was about self preservation and finding the reasons to keep going every day.

Fair warning there are a few sex scenes in Life on the Preservation, and statutory rape. Words are not minced when it comes to descriptions of sexual abuse. It’s by no means over the top but it isn’t glossed over either, so if you don’t want to read about this type of content then this may not be for you.

I was so confused early on because I didn’t know what character to really latch onto. The first 50 pages kept jumping back and forth from a handful of characters that I found it extremely difficult to connect. I was so annoyed! Finally about 150 in I figured I knew who the main players were. After that things started to make sense.

I do wish things were clearer early on about the two alien races. How he could have accomplished this I’m not sure but I just feel it could have been better done.

Things I liked:

– If you have ever watched Groundhog’s Day with Bill Murray – then that is what you can expect. Except there is none if the humor.

– The concept! I really like the whole trapped in a dome thing, We’ve seen it done before but this puts an entirely different twist on it. The word ‘Preservation’ in the title should give you a clue as to what the domed city is as compared to the rest of the outside world that is dying.

– The stark reality of various scenes and situations. Skillingstead doesn’t pull his punches. It was both refreshing and uncomfortable.

– This could be both something I did and did not like, it was just something that was: Ian and Kylie both have some fucked up pasts. While I sympathized with Ian, often I wanted to bitch slap Kylie for her dumbshit-itis moments. Though I have to admit there were a few times that I found her entertaining.

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“She thought: I love him. Like telling herself something and hoping she believed it.”

I get that it was probably the point for me to find her tiresome. But I’d it’s one thing I can’t stand it’s being constantly annoyed by a character. There was an extreme amount of character development and growth over the course of Life on the Preservation. I wouldn’t be lying though if I told you Kylie still continued to annoy me even all the way up to the last page.

I was unexpectedly surprised by how satisfied I was with the ending. Much of the reading experience was depressing but then all of a sudden at the end it was as if I was given a nice piece of cake to eat.


Life on the Preservation

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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8 Responses to “Review: Life on the Preservation by Jack Skillingstead”

  1. Annie

    Nice review. This gorgeous cover does not scream ‘rape’ so that’s a shocker. I’m not sure if I could cope with a humourless alien apocalypse – The Fifth Wave’s more my style! Also Kylie sounds like a pain in the ass and ‘fast’ changing characters sounds like they could have been better drawn. I might skip this one.
    Annie recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday: Burning Sky by Sherry ThomasMy Profile

  2. Jaime Lester

    Speaking of living in a dome, have you read Under the Dome by Stephen King? I was going to ask about the new show, but 10 month old. Dumbshit-itis is now my most favorite word, and I plan to find a way to work it into conversation at some point tomorrow! Down to the point of the comment, the book. Uh, well, I think that maybe you were on the “eh” or “meh” side of things with this book? I think that it is one that I would have to pass on. Though I do love me some Ground Hog’s Day, GHD needs humor. And I don’t know if I could handle a dumbshite, whiny, bitty of a character AND no humor in one book. May not be the book for me, my friend..

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Dumbshititis is a spectacular word! I feel like I see a case of it on a daily basis. It should be an official diagnosis! I would not put this on my recommend list unless you liked those elements and since you don’t, haha yeah not one for you!
      I haven’t read a lot of King, just the entire Dark Tower series. I hear there is that show, I’m sure I’ll watch it someday when it’s on streaming. Is it any good?

      • Jaime Lester

        I like King, but the only series that I have read and I ADORE is the Dark Tower series! Yeah, you are the coolest chick on the interweb! The pilot episode was decent. I think it has some potential. One of those “wait and see if they screw it up because of a case of Dumbshititis” situations, I reckon! 🙂 First time today….

        • Tabitha the Pabkins

          Haha thanks! I like being cool, someday I try to convince myself I’m hot, but eh, isn’t so effective! I’ll set it to dVR, and you can tell me if it’s worth spending valuable reading time watching instead of reading in a few weeks.

          • Jaime Lester

            I will tell you in a couple of weeks if you should try it out. And hotness is not me, either. I am nerd, through and through!