REVIEW: Tipping Point by Michelle Cook
'A tale of loss, manipulation, and the search for the truth
What would you risk to turn back the tide?
Essie Glass might have beena 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 highly-respected local businessman - until Essie discovers he's a murderous conspirator who'd see the planet die for his fortune.
Wheb 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?'
Buy it here
This is a roller-coaster read. Like the best dystopian sci fi,
it combines highly, and sometimes wincingly, recognisable facets of our
lives now - environmental catastrophe, surveillance, an increasingly
right-wing brutal state
- and offers the reader the chance to play out these scenarios in the
company of Essie, the latest in a long and noble line of plucky yet not always likable
heroines, forever assailed by losses of one sort or another but who
demonstrates the sort of resilience we should all aspire
to. I think what I liked best about her was her unapologetic refusal to
be cowed. She is highly relatable.
Interestingly the story is written in first person present simple tense - a style I normally associate with screenplays - for the love of sweet Greta Thunberg, someone give Michelle Cook an option on this book! Cook's choice of tense gives the story an urgent, pell-mell, forward momentum, barely giving the reader time to assimilate what they've read before Essie is off on the next part of her mission.
There are very satisfying tropes here: compromised politicians on the make, business tycoons looking for the next corrupt deal and world domination, and a gaggle of highly principled eco-activists, embroiled in the hacktivism of the dark web and the dubious morals of the chatrooms, as what's left of society dodges the drones to find out exactly what the politicians want so badly.
Cleverly, Cook has set her story mainly in Worcester which makes a pleasant change from more London-centric stories. No one is quite what they seem in Tipping Point. The characters are, to the last woman and man, compromised in some way. The conspiracy theorists will be all over this but perhaps not in the way you might imagine, which is the novel's strength. Events on the world stage are elided, which means that the action, set firmly in the here and now of lives at the bottom of the heap, always feels real.
Michelle lives in Worcestershire, UK, with her husband Daniel, their two young children, and a cat called Lyra Belacqua. By day, she works for the NHS, a job which she has almost as much passion for as fiction.
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.