Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Review - Justin Cohen's "Quest Inc."

Join me today on the blog tour review of Justin Cohen's novel, Quest Inc. 

The World’s #1 Personal Development Agency . . . has to prove it.

What if you brought together five top personal development experts—equipped with virtually everything we know about unleashing human potential—and gave them some lives to change? Could they really coach anyone to lose fifty pounds, fix a broken relationship, or get rich? What would they do for a homeless person, or a pro-golfer trailing at the back of her league? How about taking the racism out of a racist, or turning a hellish employee into a ray of sunshine?

Welcome to Quest, Inc. They say they can change your life. Now, as they’re followed by an investigative journalist from one of the world’s leading news publications, they have to prove it—or be damned as charlatans.

Based on real life peak performance and transformational strategies, you’ll see the highs and lows everyone faces on the road to self-realization—especially the experts. Get ready for breakthrough . . . or breakdown.

My Review:

I was very intrigued by the premise of this novel, how experts in their various fields come together to create a company focused on helping people get their lives on track – but they’ve all got skeletons in their own closets.  Years before, they’d all worked together for the President’s Living Well Campaign – now the results are in.

They’re not good.

After a suicide attempt by one of the former campaign teammates, the others all gather round to assist him in getting back on his feet.  This is the catalyst for the creation of Quest Inc.

Robert Rivera – body builder, fitness and nutrition
Dr. Carter King – psychotherapist, relationships and general transformation
Mickey Prodi – real estate tycoon, personal finance and vocation
Dr. Jay Lazarus – therapist, emotional state management
Alexia Redmond – bestselling author of “Make Yourself Over”, image and body language

Enter the antagonist – Victoria Holt, reporter, sent to unmask the self-help experts as frauds and charlatans, people who can’t even manage their own lives, much less help others.  Her challenge?  Help a homeless woman get off the streets and become a productive member of society.  Just one problem – Laura doesn’t want to.

The most intriguing client stories I found were those of Frank and George. 

Frank comes to Quest for help to overcome a lifelong, deeply ingrained aversion to blacks – and finds himself in Dr. Carter’s office, a lovely woman of African-American decent.  But Frank is determined to put his racism behind him, and Dr. Carter soon discovers the heartbreaking reason why.

George is a man of many diversions, namely booze and women.  He’s destroyed his business, his marriage, and the relationship with his two sons.  There’s got to be a road leading away from destruction, a way to communicate to his sons to avoid the mistakes he’s made.  Time is running out, but will they listen?

As I said, the premise of this novel was very intriguing and several client stories had potential, namely the two mentioned above.  However, as a fellow writer and prolific reader, the execution fell flat, primarily due to continual point-of-view problems.

The book is written from an omniscient point-of-view, making it difficult to ever get in the characters’ minds.  This creates a sense of psychic distance – you rarely feel what the characters are supposed to be feeling and thinking.  There is more telling rather than showing of their lives, which adds to the disconnection and makes them feel very one-dimensional.  Then when there is a scene that starts out with a character point-of-view, the POV shifts constantly within the scene from one character to another and back to omniscient, once again increasing the psychic distance and making the reader feel like they’re in a juggling act.

There were also too many clients introduced without enough development about said clients and their back stories.  It was almost as if most clients were thrown in to make it look like the business was thriving, not for any real purpose in propelling the story forward.  What would have helped, since it appears a series is planned, would be to have had the focus on four main clients in this first novel.  This would have allowed opportunity for more depth development to all of the clients and also have left room for more development of the self-help experts.

Just before the halfway point in the novel, it seemed as if several characters finally found their voice.  But unfortunately that was broken shortly thereafter with the introduction of another new character or situation.

The ending did surprise me and sets up for the next book in the series.  I also enjoyed the moments when both Robert and Carter let their guards down and shared with their respective audiences about their own shortcomings, that even the experts have doubts and struggles in their own personal lives.  They’re human.

And that, dear readers, was a real positive.

Justin Cohen's Bio:

Justin Cohen is the author of four books and seven audio books.  He produced and hosted a television talk show in which he interviewed some of the world's top experts on success.  As a leading authority on personal development, with an honors degree in Psychology, Justin speaks, trains, and writes in the fields of motivation, sales, service and leadership.  Having spoken professionally for nearly fourteen years, Justin has presented in twelve different countries, and in virtually every industry, to an average of ten thousand people annually.

Visit Justin through his website at http://www.justinpresents.com/

You can purchase Quest Inc. via print or electronic reader at the links below.

In print for $9.99
On Kindle for $2.99


  1. A book with a very interesting premise. Excellent job on the review -- point of view problems can really knock a reader out of the story.

    To me, it sounds like a good book to sample before I decide whether I want to read the entire thing. I'll check it out.

  2. D A, thanks for the in-depth review of Justin's book. We appreciate your taking the time to read it.

  3. With his background in psychology, it sounds like the author has brought a lot of issues to the forefront that mainstream psychologists might not want the lay person to know about. The book could create quite buzz in the field.

  4. D A a big thank you for your insightful review. I know I was taking a risk with the omniscient POV. I was inspired by Grey's Anatomy and the TV Drama format that's why there is lots of dialogue and less of the interiority that we'd see in regular novels. From the Tribute Books tour I can see that some people love the structure but there are those like you who don't. I'm now split between continuing with this format or trying something new. One could write a book like this from the 1st person (one of the main coaches) and focus each story on a client. There would certainly be more intimacy but one would lose the multiple perspectives and rapid fire pace. It's a tough call but I'd certainly be receptive to any one's thoughts on this particularly those who have read the book. Thank you again.

    1. That's the great thing about reading AND writing - subjectivity. I want to thank you for allowing me to be a stop on your tour and for the opportunity to read Quest Inc. My best wishes for your writing success and with your upcoming sequel!