07 December 2013

Books: The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu (2013)

“When out-of-shape IT technician Roen Tan 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…”

Tan is the heart of The Lives of Tao; he’s tubby, socially awkward to the nth degree, and unmotivated to change it. Roen, like many of us, is dissatisfied with being a cog in the machine that runs corporate America. But now that Tao is residing within him, the Chicagoian now sees an opportunity to change his destiny. 

But, as the saying goes, be careful what you wish for. Author Chu sort of forgoes the easy route of having Tan be a natural at his training. Instead, the young man gets beat up by all sorts people, including a senior citizen and a few women. His training takes up a good percentage of the book, even as Tao hands out the history of the ongoing civil war. There is a lot of humor here, as both Tao and Tan get off some great one-liners, but the author treats the women here –at times- by their looks. While the novel is geared toward men, I think women would get a bang out of it, but my be put-off somewhat by the fact that the women are defined first by their looks and then by their skill.

Also, the whole host thingy reminded me too much of the Trill on Star Trek, but nothing is new in science fiction. The books holds together fairly well for a debut and beyond a rushed ending, I enjoyed it.

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