Book Review: Core Punch by Pauline Baird Jones

The time and place

New Orleans, some time in our future

The suspension of disbelief

New Orleans was pretty much wiped out by Hurricane Chen fifty years before the story. I would put money on that actually happening, though. The bulk of the city was lifted into the air so that it’s divided into New Orleans Old and New Orleans New (or dirtside). Some very humanoid aliens come to earth every so often. The aliens have nanites and AI technology, but Earth does not. Instead we have skimmers, which seem to be flying cars.

The quick summary

Dzholh “Joe” Ban!drn, a Garradian, and Violet Baker, NOPD are sent to retrieve some people who haven’t evacuated NOO when there’s a Category 5 hurricane bearing down on them. They go between bands of the storm, but bad data throws them into the heart of it with equipment in poor condition. Our heroes attempt to survive the storm and an evil trying to sabotage them.

My squees

The cover, which Jones made herself!. I’m used to people who look a little vacant or suffering indigestion against a background of the galaxy. This uses a literal interpretation of a metaphor- the eye of the storm, and that amps up the cool and danger simultaneously.

Even in the future, police departments need to make do with a shoestring budget, and that proves important to the plot. Also, the method to the deaths got more ghoulish as I thought about it harder. The paranoia is woven in so that I, reading it, got more paranoid about everyone and everything in the book conspiring against Joe and his companion.

My grumbles

This book chronicles action admist forces of nature. I had trouble figuring out the spatial and physical mechanics of what was going on at any given time. The piloting the skimmer and other navigation sections left me feeling lost and quite aware I was reading fiction. This may be worse because I have no geographical knowledge of New Orleans. I don’t know how this would work for others, because my spatial reasoning is abysmal. If you can visualize yourself in the environment, you’ll have much better luck.

I’m not sure what’s alien about Joe besides his having purple skin and a nanite integrated in his head. I think I missed the memo on the attractiveness of near-human/early Star Trek aliens. The tongue-in-cheek terms tended to grate on me. Some of them I grew fond of, but I never got accustomed to the word crapeau in lieu of other swear words.

Read if you

  • Are fond of disaster scenarios
  • Like a light mystery
  • Enjoy stories set in New Orleans

Skip if you

  • Already have paranoid delusions about things trying to destroy Earth
  • Get lost in mazes all the time and have terrible spatial reasoning

Disclosure and final thoughts

I won this book in a raffle. As a token of my appreciation for the author’s generosity to the community, I wrote a review. I’d put the heat level at sweet for those curious.

Author site:

Other resources: Amazon / iBooks / B&N / Kobo / Google Play

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