30 May 2015

Books: The Rebirths of Tao By Wesley Chu (2015)

When Wesley Chu's first book in this series, The Lives of Tao, proved to be a huge success in early 2013, publisher Angry Robot released the second book, The Deaths of Tao, in the fall of that year instead of early 2014, meaning that it would take book three, The Rebirths of Tao, a whole year and half before seeing publication. I noted that in my review back then that a delay may mean moving on. Not because I did not like Chu or this series, but because I would probably forget all that happened in book two. 
Which proved to be true. But since I was not going to go back and re-read the previous two books (listen, l want to read a lot of books and re-reading anything means it has to be special) I just plodded along until the author got me somewhat caught up in the timeline. 
"Many years have passed since the events in The Deaths of Tao: the world is split into pro-Prophus and pro-Genjix factions, and is poised on the edge of a devastating new World War; the Prophus are hiding; and Roen has a family to take care of. A Genjix scientist who defects to the other side holds the key to preventing bloodshed on an almost unimaginable scale. With the might of the Genjix in active pursuit, Roen is the only person who can help him save the world, and the Quasing race, too. And you thought you were having a stressful day."

The concluding arc to this series is well handled and Chu -very good at pacing and creating a believable world- also has a way with character interaction and dialogue. Tan Roen was always a great character, but with added bonus of a time-jump (right about a decade) we get a Roen and Jill's 16 year-old son Cameron and Marco, a British fighter who seems to have had too many adventures with Roen over the years, and they are always bickering. This, of course, leads to some great conversations. We also get a sweet potential relationship with Cameron and the daughter of the Genjix scientist whom is defecting. There is some great interaction here between her, Cam and Tao (who was once in Roen's body, but now resides in Cameron. Long story. Read the other two books).

Another good aspect of the time-jump is to add the geo-political aspects that come into play now that the world knows of the aliens. It's a fun James Bondian style adventure with megalomaniacs trying to end the world (and while that aspect is not very original, all can be forgiven due to other positive things about the this book and the series as a whole). I'm unsure if this series could be called "urban fantasy", which seems to me a new sub-genre that includes the works of Jim Butcher's (Dresdin Files) and Tad Williams (Bobby Dollar). Part of me hates this, because it clearly means that to find new readers of science fiction and fantasy, authors can no longer write the traditional ways of fantasy -no magical worlds- that it has to be set in our own reality so to speak. That this is the only way today's readers can accept a fantasy world is that it has to be set in the present. Then again, there is some truth to the notion fantasy and science fiction became to formulaic in the late 80s and 90s that lead to this current trend (though I think TimPowers has been doing this for years). 

In the end, The Rebirths of Tao brings it all to a satisfying end and yet I know Chu is setting up for another round -which I read begins next year, a stand-alone trilogy that begins with The Rise of Io. In the meantime, Chu returns to the bookstores this July with Time Salvager

And as I've mentioned before, I love time travel stories. 

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