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Publisher's Summary

Presumed dead in the tragedy of 9/11, Ryan Kolstad saw his missed job interview that morning as something other than a failure - he saw opportunity. Believing his family would be better off, he walked away.

Under the guise of a new identity, he's spent a decade punishing those he deems unworthy of the loving families they take for granted. Ryan suddenly finds himself questioning the lies and rules he's come to live by when he finds himself on the other side of judgement.

©2013, 2014 Kelli Owen (P)2017 Kelli Owen

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • R. Klein
  • Rocketville, Maryland - USA
  • 06-13-18

A Dead Man Walking

A short, but excellent story, filled with irony, and unusual twists that kept my interest throughout. The tale of a man who, on deciding what to do with his second chance at life, decides to make the world a better place - by ridding it of useless people like himself.

Wonderful character development is aptly aided by the excellent narration. The author provides great insight into the character of the main protagonist. I'd call him "our hero," but the term doesn't really fit. From the very start of the story, we get a sense of who he is through his own narration. But as the story goes on, we gain greater insight into who he becomes. I was impressed that the rationales for his actions are so well described throughout.

The complex interplay of characters is really terrific in the latter part of the book, as some role reversal of a stark and intimate nature starts to play out, lending the story a twist of fate that borders on the kind of science fiction I might associate with The Twilight Zone. Yet the coincidence behind it is completely plausible - and believable.

My mind was clicking away, trying to stay a step ahead in the story, and figure out where it was going. But the story unfolded in terrific ways that I didn't expect. It is thick with ironic twists, which come full circle by the end.

And in the end, we are faced with a situation of misplaced redemption, suggesting that although intentions may be the best, innate character can still rule.

I was given this audiobook free of charge by the author in exchange for my honest review

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Marcus
  • SHOEMAKERSVILLE, PA, United States
  • 06-11-18

Kelli makes even foreign concepts relatable

Becoming a fan of Ms Owen's works. This one was far less supernatural than a couple others, but still very interesting. Kelli is a master at developing characters and making you FEEL them.

Though I did enjoy this book, I also felt (as I did with another of Kelli's stories) that something was left on the table. She built our protagonist up to be this Angel of Death type figure -- even spent time developing his various targets, and then the book goes sideways and all of that is basically left on the cutting room floor for something that felt subpar and didn't get fully examined. She did a good job getting me interested in that story line, so much so that the eventual direction the story took left me wanting.

Still, it was an enjoyable short listen, and the narrator did an excellent job. Would recommend.

*The author provided me this audiobook free of charge in exchange for my honest review*

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

This one hit me hard

Quickly becoming a fan of Kelli Owen’s short stories. I really like how simple they are yet still full of great character development, exciting plots, and just good story telling all around. I don’t feel like the premise of this was anything new but the approach and outcome was not something I was expecting at all. Who hasn’t thought about faking their own death and what they would do with that anonymity? Having lived a life as a deadbeat what would you do with a clean slate to redeem yourself?
Ryan, a deadbeat father, has that opportunity and makes amends by fixing other people’s families. As a father I immediately detested Ryan, but as the story moves along he elevates himself slightly in my mind. Although completely unconventional I liked how he tried to redeem himself, even if he never did what he probably should have done. Just as the story reaches the climax and it seems like Ryan just might have figured out what he could have done with his second chance he doubles down on his path. I applaud his dedication but a little part of my heart broke.
I really liked everything about this story. I went from hating Ryan to accepting him to feeling sorry for him. I was all in on his path to redemption and then immediately saw what he couldn't and wanted it to end. This story just tugged at my emotions and that is what impresses me about Kelli’s writing. For such a short story, perfect length, I felt I got a lot out of it. Having heard this story, I will never fake my own death as the guilt I would feel is the guilt Ryan cannot. Definitely a story to revisit.
Michael Angelo did a great job. His voice really brought out the emotions of the characters which put me right in their shoes. I don’t think this book would have made such an impression on me without his voice.
I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • RJ
  • Cottage Grove, MN, United States
  • 06-20-18

Diabolical twists and turns!

The date is September 11, 2001 and Ryan Kolstad, self-proclaimed loafer and procrastinator, is presumed dead when the Twin Towers are attacked. He should have been at a job interview, but he was at the bar, which was his usual destination of choice. Hearing reports that survivor’s families would be compensated, he realizes that that his family would be better off without him. Upon this recognition, Ryan considers staging his own death. Contemplating what to do with his new life, Ryan feels obligated to help families taken for granted, as his was. With his course laid out he implements his vengeful plan, but in an ironic twist the tables are turned finding himself the victim. The story is short, but it is well written and quite interesting. This audiobook was given by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review via Audiobook Boom.