This appealingly absurd alternate reality will be of particular interest to those frustrated by the online world.
Akwesi Phillips’s The Seduction Challenge is a thrilling and satirical tale that follows a group of uncommon misfits through their modern-day quest to achieve fame and fortune, set in a strange and curiosity-generating world.
Otto, an unusually hairy Austrian with the strength of an ape, convinces Carl and his friends to join an underground movement known as “Rebirthism.” The international group promises to shed them of their loser statuses if they follow its anti-societal guidelines. Together they join forces to compete in the First European Seduction Challenge in hopes of winning one hundred thousand euros and the chance to be “reborn” into a master seducer. The challenge takes them through five European countries where they must face numerous challenges.
All of the diverse and interesting characters have defining characteristics that evolve as the story unfolds, and each contributes to the plot. The narrator, Carl, commits wholeheartedly to the Rebirth cause and transforms from an awkward boy into a more confident, if not arrogant, man. On the other hand, his best friend, JB, begins to find fault with the Rebirth lifestyle and breaks away from the group, favoring marriage to the seduction game. Supporting characters, like Vince and the seduction guru, Raymondo, provide necessary comic relief.
The novel, the first in Phillips’s Sadomas Universe series, is alluring for its eccentricities. It mixes the absurd with realism, creating a fantastic alternate universe. It creates intrigue by not revealing much behind the subplot surrounding Otto. He is a human/chimp mutant who is being hunted by a mysterious organization to make use of his rare genes. Somehow this group is connected to Rebirthism, but the story ends before the whole truth is revealed, leaving that for the next installment.
The Seduction Challenge follows a clear story line and does not wander into irrelevant subplots. The short chapters make it easy to read. The text maintains its absurdism throughout, from the book’s cover design to its reoccurring colorful imagery and symbolism. The tone is satirical, and does mean that characters use some politically incorrect language around women and LGBTQ characters.
The Seduction Challenge is a fantastical satire that will be of particular interest to young men who are frustrated by the online world. It is an appealingly absurd alternate reality.
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