The Lives of Tao and The Deaths of Tao by Wesley Chu: A Double Review

When out-of-shape IT technician Roen wakes up and starts hearing voices in his head, he naturally assumes he’s losing it.

He isn’t

As of last night, he has a passenger in his brain – an ancient alien life-form called Tao, whose race crash-landed on Earth before the first fish crawled out of the oceans. Over the millennia his people have trained human heroes to be great leaders, to advance our species at a rate far beyond what it would have achieved on its own. Split into two opposing factions – the peace-loving, but under-represented Prophus, and the savage, powerful Genjix – the aliens have been in a state of civil war for centuries. Both sides are searching for a way off-planet… And the Genjix will sacrifice the entire human race, if that’s what it takes.

So now Roen must train to be a hero worthy of his unwanted companion. Like that’s going to end up well…

What if, every act of history, science and mans greatest discoveries were all done by extra terrestrial biological entities that use humans (and animals) as hosts.
I know, right?

Mind. Blown!

The story begins right in the midst of the action. A covert operation has gone awry and a Prophus agent has died leaving his Quasing (the infamous Tao) to find a new host.
Enter Roen Tan, the overweight, lazy, I.T technician.
Jason Bourne, he is not.
One of Tao’s hosts was Gengis Khan (remember him)? So there is no better extra-terrestrial to train Roen.
The story is fast paced and full of tense moments, that have you clinging to the book in case you drop it in a moment of shock. Everything about the Quasing is explained in detail, but not in a dreaded info-dump kind of way, for example the story of Tao’s life is gently fed into the beginning of each chapter.
I have to admit I didn’t particularly like the character of Roen to begin with, but before long I certainly warmed to him. This I think is helped with the growing bond that happens between Tao and Roen.
Chu, has filled this story with a lot of humorous interactions, sometimes at the most precarious of times but done so in a way to make the reader really care about what is going to happen next.
Combining a sci-fi with a spy thriller (or I suppose spy-fi), done to a very high standard, and also intertwining historical events that shaped the world Wesley Chu certainly has created something really special. And after finishing the book one starts to think “What if?” This I feel, is one important aspect of great SF, and one that The Lives Of Tao, certainly lives up too, (I reckon Simon Cowell is a host for a Genjix Quasing).

I highly recommend The Lives Of Tao, and wish I read it sooner, (Then again, my Quasing told me to say that.)
9/10

The Deaths Of Tao by Wesley Chu

The Prophus and the Genjix have now both found a way off-planet. The Genjix method will take less time – about 30 years’ less time – but will mean the ultimate destruction of mankind in the process.

They think it a small price to pay to get home

Book 2 is an adrenaline filled, mile a minute full of twists and turns, and plenty of laughs. It takes place a few years after The Lives Of Tao, and the Genjix have left no stone unturned, and are in firm control of the board and all the pieces.
Tao and Roen are going it alone and chasing up their own theories much to the Keeper’s displeasure. They are hiding out in an abandoned missile-silo (very cool). Eventually Roen and Tao find themselves back in the throes of the Prophus- whose resources are somewhat lacking to say the least. And of course, chaos ensues all around the Prophus agents.

In The Deaths Of Tao, the perspective of Jill is a really welcome addition and does not slow the story down. Jill and her Quasing (who shall remain nameless because spoilers), have a very love/hate relationship and the reader will see that they have some very funny interactions. You could almost compare Jill’s Quasing to a disapproving mother/father.
Again Chu features some more geek references, some of which are absolutely brilliant, (the Star Wars quote by Tao and Roens reaction to this is bloody brilliant).
Chu has not sacrificed the laughs, that’s for certain.

The main antagonist (Enzo, the Adonis Vessel) and his Quasing, Zoras, who together are equally terrifying.
What makes this worse is that Enzo, although worshipping his alien-overlords, almost feels himself to be more superior than them and is somewhat dangerously unpredictable and ruthless towards the Prophus.

The Deaths Of Tao heightens the drama and the reader can feel the tension glowing from the pages. Some characters from book 1, return and there is a few surprises in store for the reader, and also a few shocks.
Wesley Chu obviously is a host for a Quasing of superior power, fans of book one will not be disappointed, his ability to not only craft an intelligent sci-fi but include historical features, humour and tie it up neatly into a mile a minute spy thriller, the fellow is certainly rather talented.
I look forward to book three, which I’m sure Wesley Chu will have something spectacular in store for us.

9/10

The Lives Of Tao and The Deaths Of Tao by Wesley Chu are out now from Angry Robot (www.angryrobotbooks.com) to find more about Wesley Chu, log onto his website http://www.ChuForThought.com and he can be found on Twitter at twitter.com/wes_chu

Thankyou to Angry Robot for providing me with both of these novels.

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