My Rating: 7/10
In Tropical Punch, S.C. Jensen introduces us to Bubbles Marlowe, HoloCity's cyborg ex-detective and titular hero of the series, Bubbles in Space. Bubbles isn't particularly fond of her new job as a private investigator, but when she stumbles upon a gruesome crime scene that connects to her past, she can't ignore the urge to dig deeper. As she delves into a world filled with strippers, drugs, and headless corpses, Bubbles discovers that sometimes the truth is better left buried.
The writing in Tropical Punch is well-done, with the protagonist, Bubbles, being a well-developed and relatable character. The cyberpunk setting is vivid and easy to picture, which is aided by the book's colorful cover art. The plot is engaging and fast-paced, although some elements did feel a bit contrived, such as Bubbles winning a lottery to go to space. Despite small bothers like that, I generally enjoyed the entire plot and the mystery that unfolded.
That said, some of the mystery reveals in Tropical Punch felt a bit rushed or under-explained, as the main character would blurt out conclusions without the reader being privy to her thought process. This made some resolutions feel like lucky guesses rather than satisfying conclusions.
The climax of the story was also somewhat messy and chaotic, leaving me somewhat unsatisfied. Without spoiling anything, a new plot element was introduced that felt sudden and unexpected, but then was resolved too quickly for my taste. The final showdown is filled with action that I had some difficulty following, and the story concludes with an exposition-heavy explanation tying up loose ends.
Despite these critiques, Tropical Punch is an enjoyable read that will likely appeal to fans of mystery who like a dash of humor in their stories—I haven't mentioned the talking pig yet, have I? There's a talking pig named Ham, and he's great. The plot maintains a good pace, and the characters—Bubbles as well as the supporting cast—were fun to read. There were a few missteps, but overall, I'd still recommend the book. For the competition, I give it a 7/10.
/* Note: This review reflects only my personal opinion of the book, not the opinion of the entire Team Sciencefiction.news */