The Lives of Tao (The Lives of Tao #1) ★★★★☆

livesoftao (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Lives of Tao
Series: The Lives of Tao #1
Author: Wesley Chu
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 464
Format: Digital Edition



Tao is an alien. An amorphous creature that along with a whole ship of his kind, crashed on Earth 1 bajillion years ago. They cannot long live in our atmosphere but have found that if they inhabit a terrestial life form, it protects them. And they can communicate with and in some cases control, their host. Tao has been in symbiosis with some of the greatest characters in human history, as the aliens want humans to advance enough so they can build them a spaceship to get the aliens back home.

Some hundreds of years ago the aliens split along lines of domination and mutualism in regards to humans. The Gengix want to dominate humans and force them into endless wars to produce better and better tech, hence getting the Gengix home quicker. The Prophus, of whom Tao is part, want humans to advance peacefully so the Prophus leave the planet in better condition than they found it when they all leave.

Tao’s latest host was killed and Tao had to inhabit Roen Tan, a lazy, fat, apathetic and generall all around useless piece of humanity. But Tao, a high ranking Prophus, doesn’t let Roen stay that way. With help from other Prophus members and humans working for the Prophus, Roen is turned into a decent fighting machine. Which is good, because the Gengix end up kidnapping his girlfriend and training mentor and he has to lead a group of special forces to rescue them both and find out just what the Gengix are up to.


My Thoughts:

If you had had me read Time Salvager and this back to back, I would have sworn they were written by different people. Glad I didn’t give up on Chu after TS was such a phracking load of debacle’ness.

Now, with that being said, I still didn’t care for Roen Tan for the entirety of the book. His attitudes were everything I’ve ever despised, namely, that selfish apathy that is impermeable to any and all reason and takes the path of least resistance every single time. He got better by the end but was still thick as mud sometimes and had me shaking my head. It was obviously deliberate on Chu’s part and I can roll with it, but it is something to be aware of. It is also something that had better not be in the next 3 books or I’ll dnf. One book I can handle, not an entire series.

For some reason I was under the impression that this was going to be funny and comedic. Not so much really. A few quips here and there were really about it. It was dealing with humanity as a whole being used by an alien race for their own ends and some of the horrific things the aliens had caused, like the bubonic plague, Chernobyl, World War I and II, the atomic bomb, etc. Death and Destruction on a scale that is almost unimaginable.

The split of the aliens into factions between the Gengix and the Prophus, I’m not sure why Chu chose to do that except to show that all life is approximately the same the universe over, ie, corrupt and terrible? I repudiate that, but on theological not philosphical grounds.

I was reminded a couple of times of the tv show Chuck. While Tao doesn’t magically allow Roen to become a super karate expert like the Intersect did for Chuck, the whole idea of having a wealth of knowledge in one’s head was almost the same.

The badguys were pretty good badguys. The Gengix and their human hosts were wonderfully despicable and the only thing I love better than a bad badguy is a good goodguy. Since I didn’t get that, I had to settle for the first half of the equation.

I guess why I’m giving this 4stars is that I stayed up past midnight to finish this because I wanted to see how things worked out. That says a lot to me when a book can hook me like that. Hopefully the next 3 in the series can keep that hook in.



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43 thoughts on “The Lives of Tao (The Lives of Tao #1) ★★★★☆

    1. Nope, nothing like that. Gengis was actually one of the people possessed by Tao 🙂
      I think the author explains the words based on the aliens language, or something.

      I enjoyed it and I’m really hoping the next 3 books keep my enjoyment up.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m not going to say you’ll like Roen in book #2 any more than you did, but he develops. And then by 3…well.

    Anyway, glad to see you rated it as highly as you did. Even if our reasons for liking it are pretty different.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They certainly are different, aren’t they?
      Even though it was you who brought them to my attention.

      I guess I’ll have to wait and see if I can stand more Roen or not. I’m thinking positive thoughts, positive thoughts, positive thoughts……

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad you liked this! Tao is my favorite work by Chu too, even though I actually helped beta read Time Salvager. I just prefer his action/spy thriller and humor, I guess. Oh, and if you continue with this series, you might even spot yours truly making a cameo in the third book 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah ha! So YOU’RE to blame for Time Salvager, eh?

      I shall keep an eye out for a Mogsy lookalike in the tao series. Of course, unless Chu CALLS the character Mogsy, or slyly refers to a Book Sanctum, I might not see it.

      And speaking of names. Just how DID you come up with the monniker Mogsy? Do you have a post about it on your site?


      1. He actually tuckerized me using my real name. Just keep your eye out for the vapid school nurse 😉

        And Mogsy was actually derived from my game blog, which I had before my book blog. My site was called “MMO Gamer Chick” which got shorted to MMOGC and so people started called me Mogsy and it stuck.

        Liked by 3 people

          1. Wes and I follow each other on Twitter and for a while we were actually on google hangouts talking a lot and I helped him beta read a few things. He tends to do the tuckerization thing with a lot of his beta readers, so he threw in that as a surprise for me 🙂

            Liked by 2 people

    1. 😀
      For me, that would be code for “It looks interesting but realistically speaking I’ll never read it”

      I’m reserving judgement until I’m more invested in the series. Time Salvager really hurt Chu’s like’ability with me and I just don’t know if this will be enough to come back from that.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think you’re code breaker may need some greasing. If I weren’t considering it, I wouldn’t put it on the list. I really do have a shortish list of books that I do dip into for exploring books that otherwise aren’t my usual fare. It keeps things interesting.

        Also, I love the cover… 🙂 And lovely covers have a great deal to answer for in my reading life.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ha. One of the reasons I tend to be so blunt online. No code breaking needed 😀 Because yeah, I tend to mis-read others pretty bad most of the time.

          I believe I saw this series first reviewed on Irresponsible Reader’s and the cover really caught my eye too.

          Liked by 1 person

            1. I actually found that extremely hard to deal with. The mind is the last bastion of privacy in my opinion and here were aliens making a mockery of that.

              Of course, compared to what else the aliens have done, that’s not very high on the list of things to complain about though, lol!

              Liked by 1 person

    1. Sigh, me too. I used to be able to stay up until 2am and then get up at 6am and be ok. Now, doing that would probably make )me sick 🙂

      Getting more mature is definitely NOT for the weak 😉


  3. This actually sounds like a pretty interesting premise, even if it’s not as funny as I’ve been expecting it to be. Maybe I’ll give it a go … 🙂
    (No kidding about getting older not being for the weak – I fall asleep while reading now … and I haven’t quite hit my forties yet. Doomed!!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, at least I have the excuse that I’m 40! Hahahaa.

      I think I put off reading this for so long because I thought it would be humorous and I have such a prickly relationship with modern books that try to be funny. If I’d known it wasn’t humor I might have dived in sooner.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I didn’t think books 2 and 3 were as funny as the first one, but you will probably like Roen more.

    I bought Time Salvagers right when it came out – and had Chu sign it – but I still haven’t read it. I’m guessing I won’t like it as much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. See, this wasn’t “funny” at all, so I don’t see how the rest can be “less” funny. I simply don’t understand why everyone uses that word in conjunction with this book. I know my humor is out in left field, but still.

      I hope I like Roen more. I wanted to cheese grate him at the beginning of the book 🙂

      I’d have to go read my review of Time Salvager again to remind myself of why I didn’t like it. I hope you enjoy it once you get around to it though.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. After the disappointment that was Time Salvager, I was wary of approaching another Wesley Chu work, even though everyone agreed that the Tao series is different – as in *better*. But now that I’ve read your review – and since your point of view on Time Salvager is similar to mine – I will give this one a chance. And thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve been curious about this series but haven’t heard much about it before. Pretty glad to hear that it was a pretty good first book for you. I wonder if you’ll maintain the quality, or even get better for you. And for it to keep you awake past midnight? Definitely says a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

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