Review

The Follower

by Jason Starr

No
one is writing books quite like Jason Starr. His latest novel is
labeled a “thriller,” and yes, it is most definitely
that --- I was actually afraid to read the last several pages, for
what they might reveal --- but like his other books, Starr’s
narratives handily slice in and out of life, shattering character
and plot stereotypes to an unsettling degree. The reader never
knows what is going to happen, or how it will happen. Starr,
however, does quite a bit more in THE FOLLOWER than turn an
expectation or two upside down.

The book defies convention from the git-go. Starr begins things
slowly, almost agonizingly so, setting up his main characters and a
few secondary ones with a minimum of flash before he begins to
tantalizingly disrobe their psyches. The main story ebbs and flows
around Katie Porter and Peter Wells. Porter is from a small New
England town, an administrative assistant fresh out of college
living in Manhattan and working for a financial PR agency. But her
life, as she is rapidly discovering, is neither as exciting nor as
fulfilling as she thought it would be. Wells is a few years older
than Porter, from the same small town, and also living in
Manhattan. He is in love with her and has their life together
planned out to the last nuance; he sets up a chance meeting, starts
finding reasons to run into her, and slowly begins interjecting
himself into her life.

No one is going to stop Porter’s Peter Pan boyfriend (least
of all Andy Barnett), who seems as bent on seducing everyone who
moves (provided they meet his careful and exacting standards) as he
is on convincing Porter to offer him the marble peach. Porter,
however, is not exactly blameless. Indeed, it would be tough to
pick a winner in a three-way bet among Porter, Barnett and a
bassinet to pick the shallowest of the group. Porter’s and
Barnett’s friends, with the exception of Porter’s
roommate, aren’t much better. Wells, on the other hand, is by
no means shallow. He is actually quite deep, a yawning, dangerous,
dark chasm that is patiently waiting to swallow Porter and anyone
who gets in his way.

Starr would have created a riveting tale just sticking to his basic
plot, letting it unfurl and displaying what happens. But he takes
different vignettes in THE FOLLOWER and examines each from the
perspective of the participants, by showing how different each
person’s version of the same truth becomes. This method is
particularly effective after the first extended outing between
Wells and Porter; as the reader learns of the events first through
Wells’s eyes and then through Porter’s, it becomes more
than obvious that the book will either have a horrifying ending or
result in horrors without end. Or both.

In the space of just a few novels, Starr seems on the verge of
creating a genre unto himself, and THE FOLLOWER is one more, very
important reason why.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011

The Follower
by Jason Starr

  • Publication Date: August 7, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN-10: 0312359748
  • ISBN-13: 9780312359744