In recent weeks I’ve reviewed two books that were published in 1960, and for this one I’ve bypassed the present day altogether and headed straight for 2035.
The future in Michelle Cook’s TIPPING POINT seems close enough to reach out and touch. Climate change is ravaging the Earth, protest is outlawed, the police can brutalise people with impunity and drones hover in the sky watching our every move.
Scary, isn’t it? And what makes it scary is that it feels like it’s almost upon us.
And in the midst of all this chaos we meet Essie, a sparky 19-year-old waitress who lost her entire family in a tragic accident two years previously. Essie is trying to negotiate her way through her personal grief as well as a country in meltdown, and then, one day, she makes a decision that changes the course of her life. She accompanies a friend, Maya, to a meeting.
In this future, that’s all it takes to get you put on a government watch-list, and that’s when things start to get nasty. But there’s more. Essie is being messaged online by a mysterious man who needs her help. He claims to be in possession of plans for a ‘prototype’ that could reverse climate change, saving billions of lives.
Essie is a deeply layered and likeable hero and it’s through her that we experience the descent into paranoia, kidnap, torture, murder and, even more terrifying, politics. The tension never lets up and the author doesn’t spare us when the knives come out. TIPPING POINT is a vital, bloody and compelling debut novel. But it’s also more than that. It’s a warning.