Give me magic, gadgets, monsters, zombies, everything that seems impossible, and throw in some tough chicks with swords. That's the stuff.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Review: The Lives of Tao

The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu

I crave fun books almost as much as I crave coffee every morning (and I can't function without my java, so that is saying something). When a book makes me escape the real world, laugh, thrill at the fantastic situations, leads me on a whirlwind chase and at the end, leaves me wanting more, why that is just gold.

Chu's Tao is fun. Lots and lots and lots of fun. There's also snarky aliens, kickass action, a secret history and an endearing lead character.

Definitely on my summer reads rec list - it's like a spy movie mashed with an alien flick and you don't have to spring for overpriced popcorn.

We start with a James Bond-ish character with a twist - the dashing spy is also inhabited by an alien, Tao. Things happen and soon Tao is in the body of Roen, an overweight office drone who whines about his life but does nothing to change it. Tao, who had inhabited Genghis Khan and Lafayette among many others, has a mission to bring Roen up to speed and prepare him for the war he is now fighting - a war with other body possessing aliens for the fate of humanity.

I really loved the world with it's secret history of alien, Quasling, influence. It's not all Invasion of the Body Snatchers, though. While the Quaslings can influence their hosts and share their millions of years of experience, they can't actually make them do much. Just as humanity has been greatly influenced by the Quaslings, they in turn have been changed by their human hosts. Tao has to get Roen to agree to this new life. It adds another dimension and I really enjoyed the interaction between Quasling and unprepared host. When you really think about the Quaslings influence on the world and the resulting war between the two factions, you are left with a lot of grey areas. Roen has to navigate those moral dilemmas. I like that.

The book spans a long period of time, so Roen's transformation is more believable. He doesn't become an ass-kicker overnight. He has a lot of learning to do.

I believe I mentioned snark - Tao has that in spades. Roen does all right, but Tao does have a few million years on him.

Funny and bittersweet too, The Lives of Tao left me wanting more.

[received a review copy]