My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

ARC Review: The Punch Escrow by Tal. M. Klein

Please Note:  I received an advance reader's copy of this book as part of the Irish Banana Blog Tour promotion for this book.  This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
It's the year 2147. Advancements in nanotechnology have enabled us to control aging. We've genetically engineered mosquitoes to feast on carbon fumes instead of blood, ending air pollution. And teleportation has become the ideal mode of transportation, offered exclusively by International Transport—a secretive firm headquartered in New York City. Their slogan: Departure... Arrival... Delight!

Joel Byram, our smartass protagonist, is an everyday twenty-second century guy. He spends his days training artificial intelligence engines to act more human, jamming out to 1980's new wave—an extremely obscure genre, and trying to salvage his deteriorating marriage. Joel is pretty much an everyday guy with everyday problems—until he's accidentally duplicated while teleporting.

Now Joel must outsmart the shadowy organization that controls teleportation, outrun the religious sect out to destroy it, and find a way to get back to the woman he loves in a world that now has two of him.

The Punch Escrow, by Tal. M. Klein, is set in a future where technology has transformed the world.  Some of the innovations are predictable, such as everyone having chip implants and the widespread use of cyber-currency.  The most transformative technology of the new age is teleportation.  

The use of this technology, and it's moral implications is at the center of this novel.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and devoured it in a few days.  With plenty of imaginative world-building, action, and existential dilemmas, this an entertaining book that every fan of science fiction should read.

What I Liked:
While some of the uses for technology are ones I think most people will predict, others were delightful and fun.  Of course, there were the requisite driver-less cars, and Google Glass type interfaces.  I particularly enjoyed the 22nd century's way of solving air pollution!  I think this is why the book seems so believable to me.  Many of the innovations are things that I hope will actually occur in the future.  

I also like that the wise-cracking main character, Joel, takes time to humorously explain these technological breakthroughs, as well as the "history" of these inventions.

This is a fast-paced book with Joel, Joel², and their wife, Sylvia trying to find each other, and evade those who want to erase the evidence of the two Joels.  Besides the International Transport company trying to "clear" one of the Joels, there are also religious fanatics who want to capture the two Joels and display them as examples of the evils of teleportation. 

There are at least three storylines happening at once, but the author does an excellent job of keeping everything from getting too confusing.  Don't get me wrong, some of the plot IS confusing, but that is deliberate and helps the reader to understand how bewildered Joel, Joel², and Sylvia must feel.

Existential Angst:
There are several moral conundrums in this book which will make the reader think, and may be fun for a book club to discuss.  What if you get promoted to an amazing job, only to realize that your company is doing something horribly immoral?  Would you quit?  Now that you know their secret, would the company try to have you (or your loved ones) killed to keep you silent.

What would happen if you were suddenly replicated?  Who would be the "real" you?  If you were their spouse, how could you choose between them?

These were great dilemmas to ponder, and led to me thinking about progress versus purity.  Do we want genetically altered food that may keep costs down, and help us feed a growing population?  Or do we want to keep the food supply "pure"?  Do we want medical innovation that will allow people to live forever, or should people age naturally?

What I Was Mixed About:
My only criticism of the book (and it is a tiny one), was how the book ended.  I appreciated that the main story was resolved, but felt that there didn't need to be any cliffhangers.  If the author wants to create a sequel, there are many avenues for him to explore.  Let the characters have a moment of happiness, please.






Release Date:  July 25th, 2017

Publisher:  Geek & Sundry

Genre:  Science Fiction

Length:  319 pages

Source:  Irish Banana Blog Tour

Format:  E-Book

Recommendation:  A fun, action-packed look at the future.  Highly entertaining.  Read it before the inevitable movie is made.

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  1. Sounds great! Will add to TBR, thanks for the review :)

  2. Hmm, interesting. I wonder how I'll react to the discussion of GM food -- I'm very pro-GM food, when done using safe techniques like CRISPR which don't have other effects and not monopolised by a big company! I find it frustrating that people don't seem to realise that our food supply hasn't been "natural" for centuries, probably millenia -- we've been picking out mutants with the traits we want since we started farming. In the 20th century, for goodness sake, people exposed seeds to radiation in order to induce mutations, not knowing what those mutations would be! At least CRISPR is absolutely targeted and --

    Oh, I went off into a ramble. I'll stop now. XD Thanks for the review -- it sounds interesting!

    1. To be honest, the use of GM food is a given in this book's universe. They actually "print" food in replicators! But, along with this, actual food is not even available anymore in most places. I don't have a big problem with GM food. But I wish it wasn't tightly controlled by mostly one company (Monsanto). Any one corporation with such a large impact on the food supply makes me uncomfortable.


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