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Review: Colt O’Brien Grows Up by George M. Cole

The book, a sequel to Colt O’Brien Sees The Light centers around Colt O’Brien, a student who takes an internship as an IT helpdesk assistant as part of his college studies, and follows his career in IT and his personal life as he discovers more about life.

An unusual format is used as emails between Colt and his colleagues head up each section to lead into the next part of the tale. This is a nice touch and could have been used even more.

Having worked in IT development I found the helpdesk scenario and process is well described. I just wonder if it was worthy of an entire novel’s worth of petty squabbles over who uses UNIX and who uses Windows, with Gerry, the UNIX geek positioned in this tale as the “baddie”. YA readers would have to understand the platforms referred to, which are not explained when the story is set up; although the characters in the IT department were recognizable (if a little cliched) in their arrogance and lack of hygiene I wondered about the motivation of the author: did he write about this because he works in IT, or because he genuinely thought this book would give young people an education into how the business environment genuinely is? I don’t think this story would endear a young adult to the industry, which is explained frequently as a boring, relentless and thankless career route.

Colt seems impatient and rather snappy – he doesn’t seem to possess the sort of patience needed to attain a high level of IT knowledge and yet people keep giving him chances. I don’t know if I buy into him, or his rather erratic girlfriend Amy, who one minute is fiercely ambitious as a soccer player and the next she wants to get pregnant. Also there is their friend Bobby, a party animal who doesn’t study – he doesn’t really have a chance to adhere to any of the story. I found them all mildly taxing, given the opportunities being flung at their feet and how ungrateful they seem to be; not really role models for a young person undecided in life: I feel they consequently give up, not flourish.

The author has also given Colt a psychic ability to see the past and future in dreams, and he gets involved fleetingly with researching chakras and energy. To me this whole storyline didn’t balance with the other story about IT and I wondered why the book had turned this corner. Then, suddenly the whole story changes when Colt hits his spine on a table and is put into a coma, where a psychic, Elyce, tells his mother he is in an astral plane, and is allowed to try finding him in the other world. Then we are very swiftly back to IT…

Maybe those who read the first installment would enjoy this – it is a well written and formatted book. Unfortunately, the characterization, motivation and actual storyline seems rather confused: is this a book about IT and education, or is it about the psychic world? Maybe more should have been made of the magical aspects, or maybe more of the details of an IT career. Neither is concluded, and another mundane theme intervenes and loses both previous themes arduously set up for the majority of the book for a rather unrelated ending. However, Cole knows what he is doing with the social marketing and presentation quality of his text, and has garnered a following for these books, which shows what a commitment the writer has made to his work.

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www.georgemcole.com