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the lives of tao – wesley chu

The Lives Of Tao

I received this as an ARC, but due to some family issues, I haven’t been able to get in as much reading time as usual lately, so it did actually get published on 30th April (but that’s great as it means that it’s already available to buy now!)

Roen Tan is your normal twenty-something Average Joe. He shares a flat with his friend (who has just become a Doctor, so lording it over him), hates his tedious office job, wishes he could have more success with women and is sure that it’s down to him being not just short, but overweight and lacking confidence. However, instead of doing anything about it, he (like millions of others) just complains and seeks solace in more junk food.

He soon gets the break that he needs though, but with far more consequences than he could have even started dreaming of!

Somewhere nearby, secret agent Edward Blair is betrayed and compromised.  He sacrifices himself as a means of saving Tao, who has existed inside him for years.  Tao is a Quasing, an alien who can only survive on earth within another lifeform, is unable to exist outside of a host for more than a couple of minutes, and once joined, is unable to exit the host until it has died.

Upon his release following Edward’s death, Tao is forced to seek refuge in Roen Tan’s body – not the highly trained soldier that he would have chosen to co-exist with, although not a challenge that he is unfamiliar with.

The Quasing have been on Earth since the Jurassic period when their ship crashed. In their effort to find a way home, they have been inhabiting creatures to survive, eventually choosing humans over other species.  At some stage, the Quasing split into two factions, Prophus and Genjix that have ended up warring for thousands of years in their race to find a way back to their own planet.  Both sides have spent much of their time in hosts that have become powerful or noteworthy – which is understandable, if you had a highly-evolved alien mentoring you, you’d probably make a mark on history, wouldn’t you?

With their war at a critical point, and Tao a crucial part of the war – does Tao have time to train Roen Tan for his new role?  Will Roen have to give up every aspect of his life?  Can he just ignore Tao’s voice in his head? Would he rather just carry on with his boring existence?

I loved this book. Roen Tan is such an ordinary, average kind of guy. All the normal complaints and pretty sedentary lifestyle.  Never realising that he always has had it within him to do something about it – with the right motivation.

Tao is like a hugely committed personal trainer and motivational speaker.  Tao tells Roen his history, giving different insights into some of the better-known figures that he has co-existed with.  But it’s not just about trying to retell history with a different slant, it’s more about one man’s journey to finding himself.  It’s a little like a reversal of The Host by Stephanie Meyers (which my 13 year old dragged me to see the film) but without all the insufferable teenage angst!

There are comic moments, there are tender moments and there are moments where I wondered what I would do if I had an alien inside me, and moments where I wished I did as it might push me into doing stuff!

The climax was especially strong, and somewhat unexpected. And it has left me wanting more Roen & Tao.

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