Book Review: The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu (#LoTaoLT)
Genre: Science Fiction, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Angry Robot
Publication Date: April 2013
Narrator: Mikael Naramore
Author Info: www.chuforthought.com
Wendy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
I had so much fun livetweeting my read that I did it again with Wesley Chu at #LoTaoLT and lots of fun. I’m certain The Lives of Tao is a little peek in to Chu’s mind and I would definitely like to raid his movie collection and compare notes on the Terminator saga one day…
The prologue introduces us to Edward, host to the alien named Tao. They have an amusing relationship that we soon learn goes well beyond mere parasite and host. Their friendship is very real and, in a surprising turn of events for so early in the book, I found myself already caring for Tao.
Following the events of the prologue, Tao ends up in a new host, Roen Tan, who is not exactly the ideal soldier for the Quasings’ great big, millennia old war between their factions, the Genjix and the Prophus. Roen lacks confidence, ambition, and physical skills, therefore Tao and his companions have a big task ahead of them in training Roen.
While Roen does play a huge part in the story as Tao’s host, this book is called the Lives of Tao. But Chu does a great job of letting Tao have some of the focus, with each chapter opening with Tao describing his time with some of his past hosts. This insight into some of history’s great heroes and villains is moving, and it is integral to the overall story of the Quasings and their war on earth. I loved the way Chu worked in our history, sometimes in depth, other times in passing comments — but it becomes clear that the Quasings have had their hands in every major event in our history. It also becomes clear that there really are no good guys in this.
The first half of the story involves Tao getting Roen in shape and teaching him the ins and outs of survival as an agent of the Prophus, with the help of another agent, Sonya. I really liked the natural progression of Roen’s preparations, that comes complete with his disgruntled lack of appreciation for the process. Chu doesn’t immediately — or ever turn Roen into a super agent who can suddenly kick ass. He survives some of his missions by luck and by the skills and sacrifices of others. And when it comes to the final showdown, he doesn’t magically overcome. Despite the whole concept of aliens on our planet, Chu keeps this story and all the characters very real and down to earth.
Thanks to WhisperSync, I both read and listened to this and enjoyed both options. Mikael Naramore’s narration was great, with special love for his enigmatic Tao.