Cliffhanger (Moot Point Productions, 2021)
By Michael R. French
YA/Sci Fi/Political Thriller
Nostradamus, a 16th century self-proclaimed “prophet” with a batting average of about .500, predicts that in 2048:
“a string of political assassinations would push the world toward chaos, godlessness, and possible extinction. People would be imprisoned by their own fears, and their helplessness would allow others to strip them of their humanity.”
That’s the basic premise for this fast-paced political thriller. The action revolves around a tooth-and-nail race for student body president at Hawthorn High, a struggling school in a struggling town in Nowheresville, Indiana.
Star athlete and uber popular Matthew Navarro seems like a shoo-in. Until his ruthless campaign manager, Nathan, plants a story about another Team Matthew member. When Nathan scapegoats Britain “Brit” Kitridge as the person responsible for a TM email server hack, Brit does something totally out of character: she throws her hat into the ring.
Introverted and bookish, Brit is a political neophyte. Matthew is a campaign veteran and perennial winner. Team Matthew is also a well-oiled machine rolling in dough. Brit’s running her campaign on a shoestring. Her campaign slogan is “No More Secrets.” She soon discovers that Team Matthew has plenty. Like who’s funding his race, and why?
With the help of her high school history teacher and former Washington, D.C. insider, Mr. Wilson, Brit starts sniffing around. She gets tips from some mysterious anonymous notes left in her locker. The deeper Brit digs, the harder the opposition – and the school principal – leans on her to drop out. Someone doesn’t like her digging. Someone wants to shut Brit up. Permanently. Why?
Cliffhanger can be read on more than one level. You can read it as a sci fi/futuristic YA novel. Or you can read it as something more mature. Like political commentary. Or maybe next week’s headlines.
In the Author’s Note, author Michael R. French explains that Cliffhanger is a rewrite of a previously published novel:
“Both novels include political themes. The characters represent their own points of view, not mine. I hope readers judge my storytelling through the same lens of neutrality.”
He further explains that Cliffhanger is “an existential thriller.” It unfolds in 2030, when America, “badly crippled by its debt-burdened economy, is no longer a world leader.” Viruses devastate cities and institutions and are “matched by a power to create lasting paranoia and anxiety.”
This book is So. Darn. Clever. Each chapter winds down dangling just enough bait to lure you into turning the next page and chasing “Then what?”
I read it cover-to-cover in one sitting. You might want to hold on tight for this one. It’s a heckuva ride!
About the Author
Michael R. French is a national best-selling author and graduate of Stanford University and Northwestern University. He is a businessman and author who divides his time between Santa Barbara, California, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is an avid high-altitude mountain trekker, world traveler to developing countries, and is a collector of first editions of twentieth-century fiction.
He has published twenty-two books, including fiction, young adult fiction, biographies, and art criticism. His novel, Abingdon’s, was a bestseller and a Literary Guild Alternate Selection. His young adult novel, Pursuit, was awarded the California Young Reader Medal.
You can discover more about Michael’s work on his web site.
Cliffhanger is available to purchase now on Amazon.com.
This review is part of a blog tour hosted by WOW! Women On Writing.