Welcome to this month's Indie Spotlight, a little feature where we take a look at some of the best, new indie releases out there in the big, booky universe and give them a bit of love.
This month we dive into the excellent debut from award-winning short-story author Michelle Cook: Tipping Point.
Full disclosure: I participated in a Beta read for this book and knew how good it was a long time ago, and am delighted it's finally on the shelves.
And what a fantastic debut.
Tipping Point is an eco-thriller set in a semi-dystopian near-future, where government oppression, misinformation, and corruption have become normal features of everyday life against a backdrop of a climate disaster.
The story follows Essie Glass, a young woman living in 2035 England in the middle of a never-ending heatwave, economic ruin, and a war on terror. After an attack leaves Essie without her family, she lives a life riddled with trauma, grief, and a burning need to lash out at the establishment which turned her their death's death into a propaganda for war.
This world feels very lived-in and broken down, as Essie navigates hot, hazy days scraping a small living in a diner/speakeasy, while civilisation seems to slowly crumble around her in the shadow of a shady government and the oppressive Unity organisation.
Yet the story never feels sensationalised, and very much like the life of the main character, Essie Glass, it feels like it could easily become a reality.
When Essie is given the chance to rebel, and joins an anti-establishment activist group, initially interested in making symbolic stands against the government, things quickly escalate into more desperate, violent, and dangerous territories. To say more would be too spoiler-ish - but things quickly become a matter of life and death for Essie and her new friends.
Despite the plot’s high-stakes of corporate espionage, murder, and government conspiracies, Tipping Point is a surprisingly character-driven story.
Essie Glass is an excellent window into this sadistic world, who grows from broken survivor, to activist, to the target of a nefarious campaign of terror in gripping fashion.
The book’s biggest strength is how well Essie’s paranoia, desperation, and determination in facing such powerful enemies are developed and presented, fully planting the reader in her shoes and never letting you look away from pages that demand to be turned.
Tipping Point is a completely immersive tale of survival, with memorable characters, claustrophobic action, a truly monstrous villain, and an ongoing mystery that unfolds in surprising and gut-punching ways.
A book for our times and a really great read.
You can find out more about Michelle Cook's work here.
And you can get your copy of Tipping Point (which I suggest you very much do) on Amazon.