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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You need this book!
It's a perfectly formed piece of fiction and a joy to read. I stayed up till 5am to finish it because I couldn't bear to put it down.

This is the story of how a pizza loving, under-achieving slob (Roen) has his mind and body invaded by an ancient alien with an agenda (Tao). They're stuck with each other until Roen dies - and unless he puts in a lot of hard...
Published 15 months ago by L Robinson

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Lives of Tao - thousands of years of boredom?
This is a story that starts well, with an interesting (though not very novel) premise and the first few chapters did make me want to read more. Sadly the quality and interest dropped off, I think because the writing got rather lazy and very simple minded. Without the early tension between the leads, it became a rather rote "action" story - see bad guy, get...
Published 13 months ago by Steve R


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Lives of Tao - thousands of years of boredom?, 7 Jun 2013
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This review is from: The Lives of Tao (Kindle Edition)
This is a story that starts well, with an interesting (though not very novel) premise and the first few chapters did make me want to read more. Sadly the quality and interest dropped off, I think because the writing got rather lazy and very simple minded. Without the early tension between the leads, it became a rather rote "action" story - see bad guy, get chased by bad guy, fight with bad guy - with rather too much inconsistency - one minute unable to do anything, the next being unbeatable. It got rather tedious and though I read through to the end, this was again weak. I can't recommend this.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You need this book!, 2 May 2013
By 
L Robinson (Sunderland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Lives of Tao (Kindle Edition)
It's a perfectly formed piece of fiction and a joy to read. I stayed up till 5am to finish it because I couldn't bear to put it down.

This is the story of how a pizza loving, under-achieving slob (Roen) has his mind and body invaded by an ancient alien with an agenda (Tao). They're stuck with each other until Roen dies - and unless he puts in a lot of hard physical work, that's not likely to be very long at all. It's time for Roen to man up. He's not keen.

Tao is a major player in his faction's ongoing war against their erstwhile brother aliens. They can't survive the Earth's atmosphere outside of a host body and they can only move bodies if the old one dies. Jumping into Roen was an act of desperation on Tao's part but his inconvenient morals won't let him send a kill order just so that he can transfer out. The war is hotting up and his superiors need him back in the game ASAP. They don't much care who his host is as long as he is capable of getting the job done. They're pretty sure Roen isn't; and soon Tao is fighting on three fronts - the Genjix, his impatient bosses and his unwilling host.

Roen's life is changing whether he likes it or not. Could it turn out that he likes the new one better?

This book was funny, absorbing and inventive. I really hope there's a sequel in the pipeline.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Geekery, aliens, and hijinks, 20 May 2013
One of my favourite TV shows in recent years was Chuck. For those of you unfamiliar with the show: Chuck is about a regular geeky guy who one day wakes up to an email from his long estranged roommate from Stanford and opens it. Once he does a video starts playing and the next thing he knows he's lying on the floor of his bedroom with a huge headache. Little does he know he's downloaded a super computer into his brain and he is now wanted as a valuable asset for the CIA and other TLA's. Not only does the Intersect, the previously mentioned super computer, allow him access to amazing amounts of data, he also has sudden access to incredible fighting skills. The series is wildly entertaining and if you haven't checked it out, you really should. But how does this relate to Lives of Tao in any way, shape, or form? Because if anything, Lives of Tao's protagonist Roen, reminds me of Chuck a lot. Only instead of the Intersect, Roen is possessed by a symbiotic alien called Tao.

Of course, there are more differences than having an alien instead of a computer in his brain. Where Chuck sort of instantaneously has these new skills, we follow Roen during his quite extensive, if somewhat expedited training. I really enjoyed this aspect of the story, not just because it lent some veracity to the story - one doesn't go from overweight slob to fit super-agent overnight - but also because it gave Roen and Tao time to get to know one another and as a consequence so does the reader. This latter is quite important as the book is very much dependent on the chemistry between Roen and Tao. Roen is quite sympathetic; a thirty-something single guy, working a job that makes him miserable and pretty much going through the motions, he's quite ready for finding a new purpose in life. A purpose that arrives in the form of Tao and his species' civil war. Whatever happens to him, Roen stays believable; he doesn't come to his new life without challenging it, asking questions and having ethical and moral reservations. I really enjoyed the bond he develops with Tao and their banter, which is snappy, wry and sometimes rather cutting. Tao for his part feels surprisingly modern for all that he is millennia old-he's aged well. Tao's care for his hosts and especially his care for Roen is well-shown, not just through the narrative, but also through the small epigraphs at the start of each chapter, which share some of his history with previous hosts. There is a lot of depth to him and more history to uncover.

Tao and Roen don't move alone through the world. Roen has a roommate, the irrepressible Anthony and a girlfriend, Jill, who strengthened the Chuck link as his ex-girlfriend is Jill too. They are fun centres of normality for Roen in the crazy world he gets thrown into once he gets chosen by Tao. On the Prophus-Genjix side the cast is far larger and quite interesting. I liked the different levels of play going on there. On the one hand there are the power struggles of the human hosts to get themselves positioned better, on the other hand there are the ancient enmities and personal vendetta's that exist between the different aliens which influence the choices the different players make. Roen's human trainer Sonya, who helps Tao get him into shape was a wonderful character, along with the two senior Prophus agents Roen gets to know best, Stephen and Dylan.

Lives of Tao, Wesley Chu's debut novel, does what it says on the tin amazingly well; it is above all amazingly entertaining to read; it gives us geekery, aliens, and hijinks; and it gives a whole new spin on the gods-are-aliens theory that has been around for decades. That isn't to say there aren't any beauty flaws, because there definitely are, mostly in the shape of some debut author mistakes: clunky sentences, odd phrases, some strange plot leaps, and a convenient appearance of a character in an inconvenient place. However, I didn't really mind any of it, as the book was just so freaking fun to read. Lives of Tao might not make my 'Best of' list, but if I had a Most Entertaining Read category in my end of year posts, it would definitely come out in one of the top spots! If you're looking for a funny, entertaining, and exciting read, you can't go far wrong with Wesley Chu's Lives of Tao.

This book was provided for review by the publisher.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Entertaining Debut, 11 May 2013
By 
When out-of-shape IT technician Roen 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...

Any book that begins with a tense rooftop standoff swiftly followed by an unexpectedly dramatic escape has got to be worth a shot as far as I'm concerned. Spy type thrills and escapades are always a great deal of fun. The trickiest question though is how exactly do you make spies more exciting? Let's be honest, they are quite exciting already. The answer, which The Lives of Tao successfully confirms, is to add two groups of ancient feuding aliens into the mix.

I like Roen Tan. He's spent his life letting things just happen to him; reacting, but never being proactive. I think it's fair to say I found it pretty easy to relate. Meeting Tao has a profound effect on his life and anything suddenly seems possible. To paraphrase a very wise man* "The world you think you know is not real". Just imagine, you're living your life. Going about your business. You might even be a bit bored of the constant grind. Suddenly, your entire world-view is wrong and everything you thought you knew is fundamentally different. Working with Tao Roen is given the opportunity to become the best version of himself that he can be, sounds pretty damn tempting to me.

Tao has spent many generations working with his different human hosts. Over the years, these symbiotic relationships have left their mark and he has developed a fondness for humanity. There is a real bittersweet note to his character. He has outlived so many hosts, yet he remembers everything about every single one. Each chapter begins with a short flashback that features some of Tao's previous hosts. It's a nice little touch that helps better round out his character.

Wesley Chu has written a fun debut that acts as a perfect introduction to the struggle between the Prophus and the Genjix. We get to learn how these two groups have had a hand in human development from the very beginning. What excites me most about the premise of The Lives of Tao is the almost unending potential to develop into an on-going series. If the aliens have been around since before the dawn of man, then any time period imaginable is fair game to be included in future books, any historical figure for that matter as well. Just think, any event from the whole of human history could be included.

It would have been nice to learn a bit more about the Genjix, there are only a couple of chapters that deal exclusively with their viewpoint, but I suspect that this is something that will the explored in the next book. The Genjix relationship with their human hosts has an entirely different air, they are worshipped by their followers and hosts. The way their organisation works is more like a religion than the mutually beneficial agreement that the Prophus have with their hosts. To the Genejix, humanity is just a convenience to be exploited to their advantage.

As I mentioned before The Lives of Tao is bucket loads of fun, it's pure undiluted escapism. C'mon, who hasn't ever day-dreamed of escaping the rat race and becoming an international man/woman of mystery? The addition of an alien race guiding human development is just the icing on the cake. I really enjoyed this novel, it's top notch entertainment.

The Lives of Tao is published by Angry Robot Books and is available now. I suspect that it might just be the perfect summer read. The sequel, The Deaths of Tao, will be out later in the year. I will most definitely be checking that out as well when it arrives.

* It was Morpheus from The Matrix, but you get my point.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars differant but brilliant, 29 Aug 2013
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This review is from: The Lives of Tao (Kindle Edition)
Something abit a new
Something a bit differant
Anyone who coached Genghis Khan can't be all bad!!
oh and there's girls and guns and blowing stuff up!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this, 12 Aug 2013
By 
S. J. Hughes "imcpu2" (Portsmouth England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Lives of Tao (Kindle Edition)
New author for me, and one that I hope to read more of. This was an exciting book with twists and turns along the route. I liked the multi character characters. The story moved along at a fast pace, in fact the book was compelling enough to read in 2 sittings.
I will definitley look for the follow up.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How do i get my own alien up in my head?, 5 Aug 2013
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This review is from: The Lives of Tao (Tao 1) (Paperback)
This is an awesome book and having looked on the authors website am looking forward to the second book in the series! The story revolves around a war between a race of aliens fought on Earth through us humans. The aliens need us to survive and live within their human hosts. This is the story of a slob who gets his own alien Tao who is an important player in this war and has to turn his life around to help both the aliens and us humans to stop the threat of the Genjix (the baddies). Awesome action throughout, awesome thriller, and awesome everyday human dilemmas that we all face and how he faces upto them. Get this book and read it you wont be disappointed!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny, touching, exciting, 9 July 2013
This review is from: The Lives of Tao (Tao 1) (Paperback)
Ever day dreamed of quitting your dead end job? Of becoming a secret agent? James Bond even? I know I have.
That daydream/nightmare becomes a reality for Roen Tan, an overweight computer geek who has only jogged once in his life, and that wasn't by choice.
We join both Roen and Tao as their fates merge when they are forced, by unhappy circumstance, to co-exist. In the same head.
What follows is an at times hilarious, sad and philosophical thriller that has such an excellent pace to it that I read it in less than a day. Tao is a Quasing, part of an alien race that crash landed on our planet millions and millions of years ago, only to find that our atmosphere is toxic to them, forcing them to become, effectively, parasites living in other creature's consciousness. Their goal is to try and help civilization and technology advance, in order to try and get home. It's just there are differing views on how this is best achieved...
The secret history we get glimpses of is fascinating and really well thought out. Historical leaders and influential figures (Steve Jobs is one of them!) are exposed as being hosts for Quasing, with their methods and actions explained in such a way as to make complete sense.
The relationship between Roen and Tao is brilliant. I laughed out loud several times at their verbal sparring and felt a genuine bond grow between them. Roen's training, in terms of both his physical and mental readiness, was really well handled and we see trust grow and be broken, renewed and cemented. We endure hardships with them and see them learning more and more about each other. This was really the highlight of the book for me. I can't wait to read more about them.
The action sequences are kick-ass. Chu has a martial arts background and uses this to really good effect. To his credit, it didn't read like an instruction manual for martial arts, but it felt authentic and, at times, painful! Roen gets beaten up. A lot.
The only thing that was slightly off for me is that Roen became a little too good, too quick. He went from someone who struggled for so long, was rightly extremely nervous on his first armed mission to him suddenly leading a squad of soldiers a little too easily. Chu redeemed this by making him lead them badly, but still. And that's a very small complaint.
A Sci-Fi thriller this may be, but it has a lot of emotional depth to it. Death is a constant theme throughout and it was handled in a sensitive and realistic way. Roen struggles at times with his new reality and rather than make this a momentary weakness or something easily overcome, Chu takes the proper amount of time and thought over the problem. I loved to see that vulnerability and the strength it took to overcome.
So please, do go and read this book. I'm certain you'll tear through it and love it as much as I have. I, for one, can't wait to see what is to come.

[...]
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2.0 out of 5 stars Repetitive, 7 April 2014
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This review is from: The Lives of Tao (Kindle Edition)
After having finished reading all the Culture books I was searching for something new when I found a review of this book. It promised the book to be unusual, offered to make connections with real historical events and little known facts and sounded really interesting. After the first few pages however this book became repetitive and predictable, it also offered a blanket explanation for many historical events which made the plot boring. Could not finish, sorry.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant - loving it, 10 Mar 2014
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I finished this book and am onto the sequel. All I can say is that I loved this first book. The highlight is the internal dialogues taking place between the Quasing and their humans. The action unfolds at breakneck speed in this well-paced tale.
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