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Publisher's Summary

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 22nd century guy. He spends his days training artificial-intelligence engines to act more human, jamming out to 1980s 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.

©2017 Tal M. Klein (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Narrator Matthew Mercer is perfectly cast as smart-ass Joel Byram. One can almost see Joel's facial expressions as he navigates a world in which he's been duplicated in a teleportation accident. This futuristic story is made Monty Python-like by Mercer's outstanding voicings. His version of the synthesized voice of the 171-year-old founder of a religious cult is beautifully mechanical. His rendering of the two Levantine spies' accents is marvelous. And his depiction of the transformation of a hardworking science guy into full-fledged mad scientist is spot-on. Many characters, many voices - one terrific performance." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Story

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Wonderful narrator

Enjoyable book with a nice voice for the narrator. Interesting story if you're looking for a fresh sci-fi

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Everything is amazing

I originally bought this book just because it was read by Matt Mercer and he did not disappoint. However once I listened to the first hour I realised just how awesome the world in this book is. There is so much in the short 8 hours

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Plot got teleported

What did you like best about The Punch Escrow? What did you like least?

I don't quite know what happened here. About a third of the way through I was enjoying this - nice idea for a story, plenty to explore and then it just stopped being intriguing. I started to find the protagonist annoying. The book mentions Choose Your Own Adventure, if this was one, I would have made many different choices.

Has The Punch Escrow put you off other books in this genre?

No, in fact I have thoroughly enjoyed other books exploring this theme

Was The Punch Escrow worth the listening time?

Worth it? That's hard. I did speed it up to 1.5x to get it finished...

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Just awful

Everything stereotypically wrong with science fiction is used to assemble this trash. It is just exposition briefly interrupted by plot. The characters, in their infinitesimal moments of characterization, are banal ciphers existing only so some cunt can world build in an incredibly infantile manner. It's the future and A.I's are children so you can just lie to them to achieve your ends... Thrilling. All three monotheisms united to form their own theocratic state? No; that's never going to happen. The only reason it gets a one is because I can't give it a zero.
And just to reiterate because it's important and would have informed my purchase, it is just unnatural exposition dumps provided by cardboard.

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 25-09-2017

Great Premise, terrible execution

What would have made The Punch Escrow better?

A less dumb/pompous protagonist. The protagonist is hard to like.

What was most disappointing about Tal M. Klein’s story?

Too many $5 adjectives. Klein over describes everything. Simple scenes drag on for minutes because Klien has to describe everything in excruciating, unnecessary detail.

What about Matthew Mercer’s performance did you like?

Great voicework. All the characters are distinctive. There were intermittent dead air spots that made me think my player had stopped.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

I really wanted to like it. Time Travel/ teleportation stories are my thing, but I just couldn't get past the presentation of this one.

Any additional comments?

I don't know if Audible sorts higher rated reviews to the top of the page but I probably wouldn't have bought this if I had read some of the 2 &3 star reviews lower down that pointed out all the things that annoyed me about this story.

179 of 188 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • alexkazam
  • 07-09-2017

Terrible execution of an interesting idea.

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

No. The dialogue is exhaustively repetitive. The narration is way too informal and simplistic. Obviously the point is that a normal guy gets caught up in a high tech sci fi storyline - but he is obviously an intelligent person so his stupidity and rumination on details that are really not important are boring. The characters are not well developed. The potential climaxes or thrills this book could have are bogged down by terrible dialogue and characters.

His wife's character should have been one of the most interesting - but the author fails to elaborate on her backstory as much as he should have (as her actions create the course of the entire book). The "bad guys" in the book are just simplistic tropes. In the middle of action scenes that could be exciting, the author goes on random tangents that are entirely unhelpful and distracting.

The premise of the book is so interesting, but the execution is just terrible.

If you liked Dark Matter or the Martian do not listen/read this book. It will severely disappoint.

What does Matthew Mercer bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He gets the sarcasm the main character has, which is probably the only interesting part of the main character. So the book would have been even worse had that characteristic not been drawn out.

Was The Punch Escrow worth the listening time?

No. The characters were one dimensional. It was unpredictable but in an unintelligible way. The action scenes could have been so much better but were bogged down by unnecessary detail and possible the worst analogies/metaphors/similes I have ever listened to.

I cannot tell you how many times I rolled my eyes.

Any additional comments?

The only reason I listened to the whole book is to see if it would ever get better and it didn't. I am holding back rolling my eyes as I am writing this review. Literally I audibly sighed out of exasperation and rolled my eyes so much while listening to this I am sure other commuters were concerned for my well being.

45 of 47 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • P. Brody
  • 18-09-2017

Difficult To Suspend Disbelief

A nice story but so riddled with logical errors that it becomes difficult to suspend my disbelief.

46 of 49 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Brian
  • 02-10-2017

Some Original Ideas for a Sci-Fi Thriller

The Punch Escrow is about teleportation and the good and bad that it has brought the world. The good is that you no longer have to wait in traffic or really wait to go anywhere.  The bad....? Well, read more and find out what you think.

It feels kind of weird to say this, but I've never read more of a solid 4-star book in my life.  It definitely kept my attention and was interesting through parts, but there were other parts that either confused me or weren't written in an easy to follow way.  Now, I'm not expecting it to be a YA book or anything, but it seems like Klein wrote some parts to be purposefully confusing.

Klein is a talented author developing a bustling world far into the future that he was able to make feel "reasonably close" by making his protagonist a fan of the 1980's.  Being born in the 80's and enjoying all things 80's culture, the references (both chapter titles and numerous others inside the book) made me smile and also helped to 'ground' the book in my opinion.

I loved the world that Klein created and I felt like it was believable.  The actual story was good too but had a few holes.  I understood what I was supposed to feel, but I couldn't bring myself to feel the way that I think I was supposed to.  I have a feeling if this book really makes you feel that way you would absolutely love it.  But, because I felt okay about most things that were happening, it lost a little for me.

Overall it was an enjoyable Technothriller that I see is being made into a movie.  I will see the movie just to see how much of the book they are able to get into the screenplay.

I was given a free copy of this book which has not affected my review in any way. If you enjoyed my review please vote for it! If you'd like to see more like this you can check out BriansBookBlog DOT com.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Stephen in Ontario
  • 21-09-2017

Hard to Finish

I sped throgh the second half at 2x speed. The protagonists were shocked and horrified by supposed ethical dilemmas which shouldn’t have been shocking or horrifying to people in their day and age.

Good narration, but the story and characters were frustratingly dumb.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lomeraniel
  • 05-10-2017

Sci-fi that makes you think

It is the year 2147, and the safest way of transportation is teletransporting. There are some religious fanatics trying to boycott this since they believe teletransportation is killing people. Joel Byron works training AI's to make them more 'human'. His marriage is in danger, so Joel and his wife plan a trip to Costa Rica. During the teletransportation there is a terrorist attack and something fails when it is Joel's turn, resulting in him remaining in the the departing room... but there is also a copy of himself that appeared in Costa Rica. After the incident, the transport company is trying to kill Joel, but why? And is this related to his wife's job, since she is working for the transport company?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! This is one of those sci-fi books that makes you think and will stay with you for a while after it is finished. What is it that makes us human? Is cloning or duplicating a way of creating human beings or just an aberration? These and other related questions popped in my head while listening to this book, after seeing the implications involved in the teletransporting proposed by Klein.

The book is written in first person, from the point of view of Joel, the one who stayed at NY, and the one who first realizes that he is being chased by the transport company. It is written as a memoir, in which he relates what happens to him and where he puzzles together the events affecting the other characters. Apart from Joel, the characters are not fully developed, but as he is talking to us, it is easy to connect to him and understand his actions and motivations. Due to his job, which I found amazing, he will try to trick some AI's in his way to try to save his wife and reach his doppelganger.

The narration was very well done, and I especially enjoyed Matthew Mercer's singingof Karma Chamaleon, so much that I found myself singing along at the top of my lungs. Mercer really became Joel Byron and delivered impressive character interpretations. He gave different voices, accents, and styles to all the characters in the book. I had a small issue though, with one of the characters and his wife Costa Rica, since both sounded quite similar to me (same accent and similar tone). Since the husband's voice was supposed to be electronic, a subtle sound effect would have helped here. For the rest it was a top notch narration, with a spotless audio production.

I genuinely loved this book, the ideas behind, and its execution. I think the innumerable hypothesis that sci-fi makes possible are a great way of exploring, experimenting, and make us think t of the box. Whenever a book makes me think twice I consider it a success.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Tal M. Klein. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

22 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • SANTIAGO
  • 23-09-2017

Shallow treatment of teleportation

What would have made The Punch Escrow better?

A deeper discussion on the issues that result from teleportation as they describe it. Basically, the book is an action novel with teleportation as the background theme. The characters learn about "the secret behind teleportation", which should make them not teleport ever again... but they do! Also, characters kept discussing who is the original one, when none of them are! is it just that the character is supposed to be dumb?

Would you ever listen to anything by Tal M. Klein again?

Hard to say "never". But I'll think about it twice next time :)

Which scene was your favorite?

Coming out of the Punch Escrow for first time. The novel was getting super interesting at that point, and then it's all downhill from there

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

disappointment

35 of 39 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Aneil
  • 01-08-2017

The future is fast.

Excellent book, and worth it even if you've already read/listened to Dark Matter, which covers very similar issues and themes. The main protagonist was compelling, as are some of the antagonists. Future technology is written about in a convincing, and relevant, non-intrusive way. Whereas Dark Matter was uniformly dark, however, this had its moments of levity, although they were still too few in number. Sylvia's character, however, was drawn too shallowly, and unnecessarily so. I look forward to this author's next book! (This is for the Audible version.)

17 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 07-08-2017

pleasantly surprised

Matthew Mercer is one of my favorite voice actors so even though this isn't my typical genre to be reading I figured I'd give it a try. I was extremely pleasantly surprised with the way it's written and would definitely recommend this story to anyone.

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kindle Customer
  • 02-08-2017

Blown away by this book

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. I like science fiction books that are grounded in semi-reality. This is one of those.. It's futuristic, but not so far fetched that it's not believable.

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

Characters are believable and likable, keeps your reading just to see what happens next.

Which character – as performed by Matthew Mercer – was your favorite?

Matthew's reading is awesome. I've listened to audio books that just don't fit the character, but his reading is spot-on

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes. I was planning on listening to an hour of it when I started reading it, but ended up listening to the first 16 chapters in one setting!

Any additional comments?

A refreshing book by a new author that I had never heard of before. Will definately be looking out for more books by Tal Klein.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jordan
  • 30-07-2017

New and improved

What a fantastic story.

Suspense and thrills abound and fantastically performed by one of my favourite voice artists.
Thanks Tam and Matt for making this come to life.
Great stuff

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kim
  • 30-07-2017

outstanding!

enthralling story from start to finish, matthew mercers narration really brings it to life

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Nicholas Richardson
  • 10-06-2018

entertaining

entertaining story made even better by Matt Mercers performance. looking forward to seeing the movie adaptation

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • David Lavin
  • 30-04-2018

Amazing book with an amazing vocal artist!

Fun book to listen to with an amazing voice artist bring it to life! .

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Kate
  • 13-02-2018

Matthew Mercer's performance is a tour de force

Matthew Mercer's performance is a tour de force, hope to hear more of his work in the future.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Thomas V. Saly
  • 13-02-2018

Amazing story could not stop

Just loved every second of it, not only was the writing great but Matthew Mercer brings great life into the character. It is a very interesting view on a possible future

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Hannah
  • 28-09-2017

Amazing!

This book was amazing will definitely listen again! The narrator was so amazing too! The voices he made for each character made it so brilliant! Well done! Hope there is more!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Mr. Howard J. Bateman
  • 19-09-2017

Excellent narration, great concept.

Narrator was excellent I hope he does more in the future. Story felt a little rushed in the middle with some bloating but overall it is well worth a listen. Kept me hooked till the end.