There was a time, not that long ago, when I had lots of time to read, so much so that I was doing a book review every single week, but that was before the dark times, before the… wait a minute. Well, before I ran out of time and, let’s be honest, ran out of the huge backlog of books that I had piling up. I ran across this book while listening to a writing podcast and it sounded like an interesting concept so I grabbed it and the two sequels.
As it turns out, it was indeed an interesting concept, so let’s take a look at Wesley Chu’s The lives of Tao.There’s a war going on, a secret war that has waged for millions of years. It’s going on right under our noses, but humans, by and large, don’t know about it because the aliens must live within human hosts or they will die. Overweight IT tech Roen Tan discovers that one such alien, Tao, has taken up residence in his brain and very much needs his help to fight the war, but Roen isn’t much of a doer, he’s more of a lazy slob with no ambition. Unfortunately for Roen, Tao is stuck in his brain until Roen dies and that’s not high on Roen’s to-do list. Can Tao whip Roen into shape and make him an important player in the fight between the Prophus and the Genjix?
This is really a great concept, even though it starts slow, it certainly picks up as time goes on. Now I understand why it happens, virtually all of the tale is told from Roen’s POV so we can get the back-and-forth dialogue between him and Tao, but that leaves all of the other characters a bit underdeveloped. Even characters like Sonya, and especially Jill, never get particularly well fleshed out. Roen didn’t even know Sonya’s last name until the end of the book and Jill was just a framework all the way through. You got flashes, but nothing particularly concrete about any character other than Roen. This being the first book in a series, I hope this will be addressed better as we go on.
Perhaps the only concept that I didn’t particularly like is the fact that humanity is playing second fiddle in their own evolution. I’m cool with the Quasings being involved, but it plays far too much like humans aren’t that important to the mix, except as meat sacks. I would have been much happier to see more of an equal distribution.
I’m very much looking forward to getting into the next book in the series. This is a ton of action in a modern day setting and there’s enough going on behind the scenes to make it interesting to see how it all turns out. The Lives of Tao is a little bit James Bond spy novel, a little bit political thriller, just a little Rocky Balboa, with some alien intrigue peppered in. I can’t wait to read more.