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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
A Toxic Ambition by Erik A. Otto is a dystopian science fiction novel that takes place in the bleak landscape of San Francisco. As a result of a radioactive event that resulted in a harsh, toxic environment, the sharp divide between the well-off and the less privileged has become even more pronounced. The elite has managed to sustain themselves by living within the secured enclosure of the domed Inworld, while the poor Outworlders are marginalized, and their lives are bound by the dictates of the wealthy. The only way to escape from this vicious system is for the Outworlders to participate in the deadly game of Ket, where participants are divided into two teams that must eliminate each other. With the use of Ket energy for pulse weapons, shielding, and anti-gravity assistance, the strategies are often complex. At the center of this inhumane dystopia are three young Outworlders. Tristan, Luisa, and Michaelis are struggling with their own bitter truths and will risk their lives to overcome the oppressive system.
If there is anything that Tristan, Luisa, and Michaelis have in common is that desperation serves as their motivation, and it heightens the story’s tension as you read along. A Toxic Ambition has taut pacing, and the motivations of the characters are well explored. Erik A. Otto’s Ket game scenes are teeming with pulse-pounding details so that you feel transported into the sidelines as a spectator, and you might even find yourself enjoying the blizzard strategy. The Ket games will strike you as a mix of Quidditch, Hunger Games, and Running Man, and complemented by its intriguing narrative, it will not disappoint fans of dystopian fiction.