One problem with moving is you run out of time to do any reading. That’s been the case for me in the last couple of weeks, I’ve spent all of my time packing and none of my time with my nose in a book.
Not too long ago, I reviewed Wesley Chu’s first book in the Tao series and enjoyed it. There are two more books in the series that explore the adventures of Roen Tan, this one taking place several years after the conclusion of the last. As Roen becomes more seasoned in the alien war, how has being a host to an alien entity affected is life? That’s what this book explores. So let’s take a look at The Deaths of Tao and see if Chu can keep up the pace.
Several years after the end of the first book in the series, Roen and his alien partner Tao have left his wife and child and become more invested and involved in the war. His ex-wife hates him, his son is a virtual stranger and Roen has become very jaded with the entire Prophus war. But when the Gengix start using genetically altered hosts that are superior in every way to humans, will this tilt the balance of the war?
In this book, Chu starts to explore the idea that maybe the aliens aren’t such a good thing for humanity, or more specifically, for their hosts. When your entire life is co-opted by an alien presence in your brain and you’re stuck with them for the rest of your life, that doesn’t leave you much of an opportunity to live anything resembling a normal existence. It makes me wonder what would happen if a high-level Prophus or Gengix got into a human that simply refused to take part in the war. The Gengix, of course, would just kill him, but what about the Prophus? Would Tao just force his host to commit suicide so he could find a more accommodation host?
And what of the Adonis program? They acknowledge that these genetically perfect bodies have problems, especially their overactive egos, but are they really that superior to people like Roen and Jill? Raised from birth to be the perfect vessels, it would certainly allow Gengix to move from body to body much more rapidly and get them up and running almost instantly, is this a game changer in the war?
The character of Roen has changed dramatically between the first book and this one. While he has become much more confident and competent, he is also much more jaded, he’s tired of the constant fighting. As much as he’d love to go home to his wife and son, he knows fate has dealt him a different hand and he’s on the losing side. Once you get to the last 40 pages though, things pick up and we get a huge cliffhanger that leads into the third book that I think anyone who has enjoyed the read so far will really enjoy.
It isn’t perfect, there are some clunky scenes, some pretty obvious plots and some pretty convenient set pieces, requiring Roen to be in exactly the right place at exactly the right time, but overall, I can overlook those minor weaknesses for the strength of the overall narrative. Now I’m looking forward to the third book in the series and hopefully, that will be just as strong as this one, maybe even stronger.