Tipping Point by Michelle Cook

I had had Tipping Point, the debut novel, by Michelle Cook in my To Be Read pile for a long time and had heard lots of good things about this novel. Eventually, I could bear it no longer and I shuffled my pile so that I could make up my own opinion.

The Blurb

Essie Glass might have been a typical eighteen-year-old – had life not dealt her an early blow. Struggling to come to terms with the loss of her family in a terrorist attack, and left with nothing, Essie’s not kidding herself about her world. She wants change, and she’ll be honest about it, whatever the cost. From behind her keyboard, that is…

After all, this is England, 2035. Earth’s climate continues its accelerating collapse. A powerful elite controls the disaster-weary population with propaganda, intimidation, and constant surveillance.

By all appearances, Alex Langford is a respected local businessman – until Essie discovers that he’s a murderous conspirator who’d see the planet die for his fortune.

When their paths collide, Essie must decide: how much is she really willing to pay for her honesty?

Her choices, and the events she sets in motion, pit her against both enemies and supposed friends as she risks more than just her life to thwart them.

Will she succeed in revealing the truth? And will she survive?

The Review

Tipping Point is set in England, fifteen years into the future, and has as its backdrop a severe climate change scenario. It is a gripping, dystopian thriller but the message has never felt more relevant and important. The main protagonist, Essie, is a young woman who has suffered a family tragedy and finds herself drawn into an environmentalist group who are determined to work to save the world they believe is at Tipping Point where the ecosystem is about to transition to a new state, never to return to how it used to be. 

Their activities start well but things soon unwind. The repercussions of the groups’s actions have a destructive effect and although Essie tries to continue with her life, she cannot escape. Then, her best friend goes missing after a mission that goes wrong and Essie realises the the establishment is dangerous. Friendship and trust become everything to Essie as her mission unfolds, but there is also a lovely thread of romance too. This provides an uplifting contrast to the tense and, often violent action. When you think things cannot get worse, they do and the story takes a turn that pushes Essie right to the edge.

But there is hope amongst the grief. The bleak visual landscape is broken up with lovely sensual descriptions of ‘lemony parma violet towels’ and a vicarage which smells of vanilla. Still, this author does not shy away from difficult themes including grief and domestic violence. At the same time she questions what it means to survive and stand up for what you believe in.

I found this novel gripping and gruelling in equal measure. It is well-written, thought-provoking and original and would make for lively discussions in a book group. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend Tipping Point by Michelle Cook.

The Author

Michelle Cook writes thrillers and dystopian fiction. She lives in the UK with her husband, their two young children, and a cat called Lyra Belacqua.

Her first joyful steps into creative writing were at the age of ten, when the teacher read out her short story in class. A slapstick tale of two talking kangaroos breaking out of a zoo, the work was sadly lost to history. Still, Michelle never forgot the buzz of others enjoying her words.

More recently, she has had several flash pieces published, was long-listed for the Cambridge 2020 prize for flash fiction, and placed first in the February 2020 Writers’ Forum competition with her short story The Truth About Cherry House.

Tipping Point is her debut novel.

Val Penny

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