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Title: The Lives of Tao
Series: The Lives of Tao #1
Author: Wesley Chu
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Format: Digital Edition
Tao is an alien. An amorphous creature that along with a whole ship of his kind, crashed on Earth 1 bajillion years ago. They cannot long live in our atmosphere but have found that if they inhabit a terrestial life form, it protects them. And they can communicate with and in some cases control, their host. Tao has been in symbiosis with some of the greatest characters in human history, as the aliens want humans to advance enough so they can build them a spaceship to get the aliens back home.
Some hundreds of years ago the aliens split along lines of domination and mutualism in regards to humans. The Gengix want to dominate humans and force them into endless wars to produce better and better tech, hence getting the Gengix home quicker. The Prophus, of whom Tao is part, want humans to advance peacefully so the Prophus leave the planet in better condition than they found it when they all leave.
Tao’s latest host was killed and Tao had to inhabit Roen Tan, a lazy, fat, apathetic and generall all around useless piece of humanity. But Tao, a high ranking Prophus, doesn’t let Roen stay that way. With help from other Prophus members and humans working for the Prophus, Roen is turned into a decent fighting machine. Which is good, because the Gengix end up kidnapping his girlfriend and training mentor and he has to lead a group of special forces to rescue them both and find out just what the Gengix are up to.
If you had had me read Time Salvager and this back to back, I would have sworn they were written by different people. Glad I didn’t give up on Chu after TS was such a phracking load of debacle’ness.
Now, with that being said, I still didn’t care for Roen Tan for the entirety of the book. His attitudes were everything I’ve ever despised, namely, that selfish apathy that is impermeable to any and all reason and takes the path of least resistance every single time. He got better by the end but was still thick as mud sometimes and had me shaking my head. It was obviously deliberate on Chu’s part and I can roll with it, but it is something to be aware of. It is also something that had better not be in the next 3 books or I’ll dnf. One book I can handle, not an entire series.
For some reason I was under the impression that this was going to be funny and comedic. Not so much really. A few quips here and there were really about it. It was dealing with humanity as a whole being used by an alien race for their own ends and some of the horrific things the aliens had caused, like the bubonic plague, Chernobyl, World War I and II, the atomic bomb, etc. Death and Destruction on a scale that is almost unimaginable.
The split of the aliens into factions between the Gengix and the Prophus, I’m not sure why Chu chose to do that except to show that all life is approximately the same the universe over, ie, corrupt and terrible? I repudiate that, but on theological not philosphical grounds.
I was reminded a couple of times of the tv show Chuck. While Tao doesn’t magically allow Roen to become a super karate expert like the Intersect did for Chuck, the whole idea of having a wealth of knowledge in one’s head was almost the same.
The badguys were pretty good badguys. The Gengix and their human hosts were wonderfully despicable and the only thing I love better than a bad badguy is a good goodguy. Since I didn’t get that, I had to settle for the first half of the equation.
I guess why I’m giving this 4stars is that I stayed up past midnight to finish this because I wanted to see how things worked out. That says a lot to me when a book can hook me like that. Hopefully the next 3 in the series can keep that hook in.