Hellen Back

  • by Vicki Lee Zell
  • Narrated by Tricia DiSandro
  • 10 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Jennifer Luck is finally getting away from her crazy-ass mother and that attic room. She is off to Kale University where even darker secrets lie in wait. Finding herself wrapped tight in a nightmare she cannot escape from, Jennifer enters a hell on earth she never knew existed. What is happening to the students at Kale? What darkness hangs in the balance inside Kale House?
When Kat and Allison, Jennifer's two close friends suddenly up and vanish, unanswered questions arise. Dean Hammer is hiding something and it is only a matter of time before Jennifer discovers the truth behind the disappearances of so many young women. The real question which haunts Jennifer Luck, is Hellen Back involved? What darkness can't hide, Kale University can hide. Tag along on a journey of self-discovery as a young woman who has had nothing but heartache finds herself. What does life have to offer when your life is hanging in the balance? Who will save your soul when your time is up?

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Never hooked me

This book never hooked me. The story had promise but half way through I was still waiting for anything interesting to happen. The characters are hard to relate to. The jumps between the kidnapping in the beginning and the past are somewhat jarring. The whole thing just didn't work for me.

The narrator did a good job. I didn't care for some of her voices though.

This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review.
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- Nomi "I like a wide range of genres. Favorites include Horror, SciFi, Fantasy, Thriller, LGBT, classics and history."

Sadly, no redeeming qualities.

First, it needs to be said that I received this audiobook for free in exchange for a fair review. The fact that I promised to write a review is the only reason I kept listening.

Let's start with the story. It's somewhat promising. Girl from really odd family gets sent off to an odder school that she thinks she chose for herself. Once there, she finds that things aren't what they seem. Nice premise right? Perhaps in another author's hands.

We start off with the protaganists life at the school, but clumsily jump backward to her life at home several times before moving the plot forward. It's very confusing, and the narrator's reading style doesn't help the situation.

For me, there was no real interest in the story or where it was going until shortly after the 2 hour mark. At that point the author drops something in that clicks with one of her clumsy flashbacks to draw out a little intrigue. I perked up, thinking this story was going places! Sadly, it did not. More of the same for hours on end with no real progress.

Our heroine is annoying, dislikable, and frankly, quite dumb. The author writes in several moments when she "swallows a courage pill" to do something, except she really does nothing in the end. She blunders into situations with no idea on how to proceed and usually ends up getting the short end of the stick. Zero intelligence. Zero likability.

Likewise, the characters surrounding our protagonist are boring, 1-dimensional, and with the similar voices the narrator uses, they sound enough alike to be the same (they certainly don't really have any distinguishing characteristics).

The author certainly spends a lot of time on repetetive description of the surroundings though. See how long it takes to get sick of hearing "the dim-lit hall" or "the castle-like mansion".

Speaking of the narrator... Sometimes a good narrator can save a bad story. Others, a bad narrator can ruin a good story. Sadly, in this case, the narrator was equally matched to the storyteller. As the characters in this story are just about all female (heck, only one male even gets a name, the other is constantly referred to as "him"), that's generally all we get to hear from the narrator. Those voices boil down to airily haughty or idiotically whiney. There's really no in-between.

The narrator also completely fails at getting tone across. There are scenes that should clearly (by the author's own description) be read in a specific way that the narrator just reads in her usual over-dramatic and/or whiney style. It makes following the story even harder than it already is. She also has an annoying habit of "ending" a sentence partway through with her tone, only to continue the sentence a pause or two later. It completely throws off the flow.

Back to the plot -- it did have promise after-all -- it suffers heavily due to the writer. As I mentioned, we get treated to exposition of the same repetitive actions the protagonist takes (as well as long drawn out inner monologues), but when it comes time to move the story along? Nope, forget about any real clever development there. Those crucial moments, when an event in the story should devliver an A-HA! moment are completely absent. In their place, the author simply lays out the details. Curious what's going on here? Well, let me explain. "Oh. OK, thanks".

At this point, there's really no need to continue listening. As I said however, I was beholden. Should you make it past the "revelations" in the tale, you'll, sadly, be rewarded with an ending that makes you want to throw things (sadly, it's an audiobook, so you can't throw it unless you wish to damage your device) -- and THEN want to throw things AGAIN! I don't want to spoil it for those who do wish to give the story a full listen, but I'll just say that the one redeeming factor is that it just might help explain why the story sucked.

Sadly, this book was so bad that I likely would not have made it far enough to leave a real review. Since I did, hopefully some of what I said will help VLZ further develop her craft. I don't think I'd listen to anything else from this author (not even for free), though I do hope she improves if she intends to continue writing.
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- Marcus "Willy Wonka of it"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-30-2016
  • Publisher: VLZBOOKS