Book Review – The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu (2013)

The Lives of Tao
by Wesley Chu
Release Date: April 30, 2013
Publisher: Angry Robot Books

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It is now official: I have read the best book of 2013 thus far. It is THE LIVES OF TAO, and it will blow your socks off. Don’t be confused by the title; this is not an Oriental philosophy book, nor is it even a story about reincarnation. This is a wildly inventive tale that will have you in suspense one second and then rolling on the floor with laughter the next. Whatever book you’re reading now, put it down and go grab a copy of this one…you will thank me later.

If you are not familiar with THE LIVES OF TAO, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Angry Robot Books:

When out-of-shape IT technician Roen woke up and started hearing voices in his head, he naturally assumed he was losing it.

He wasn’t.

He now 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. Now 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.

Meanwhile, Roen is having to train to be the ultimate secret agent. Like that’s going to end up well…

Wesley Chu is a man of many talents. Aside from acting (check out his imdb page here), he is also a self-proclaimed Death Star Electrician. I would assume that position does not pay too well, as the previous two Death Stars were tragically destroyed. It seems that Chu has turned to writing as his next creative outlet.

THE LIVES OF TAO is brilliant in both concept and execution. I was completely immersed in the story from the very first page and never once lost interest. This is one of those tales that latches on to you and does not let go.

The book is written very well and flows with an easy pace. This smooth prose is what lets the reader completely fall into the book, and thus the enjoyment factor is way high. It is also where many of the quirky and humorous parts of the story come into play.

Chu does an excellent job of injecting both hard-fueled action and light-hearted comedy into the story. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Peter Parker-esque main character mature from a pitiful, soulless dork into a competent (and lethal) human being. This journey is what drives the book and ultimately leads us to like him.

THE LIVES OF TAO is an absolute win for me and I *highly* recommend giving this one a look. It is very clever with fun/deadly characters and a high-paced plot. Be ready to drop your social life for a few days, though…you will definitely want to use your free time finishing this one up!

MSB

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