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Books > Literature & Fiction > United States > Humor > B00A1M5EG2
  1. The Lives of Tao
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  2. The Lives of Tao

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    Customer Ratings (242 reviews)
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Additional Information

Goodreads Choice 2013 Finalist - Science Fiction

Winner of the Alex Award for the American Library Association's 2014 Youth Media Awards

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...

File UnderScience Fiction [ The Tug of War | I Was Genghis | Diary of a Slob | Spy vs Spy ]

From the Paperback edition.

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Wesley Chu
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

I will give you a quick run down of what it is about (with no spoilers) below. First, I want to say what was the most enjoyable for me were the characters. I liked them. I rooted for Roen. I cared! There is a lot to say about that feeling when it comes to Sci-fi, it is at times overlooked. Someone being badass is great but if they aren't real, well, then why do I care? I loved the relationships, the vulnerability and the human experience explored. It might feature aliens, but it has quite a bit of human experience in its heart.

Science fiction is a genre that is liable to take you just about anywhere. The Lives of Tao is very unique. Before the evolution of man an alien form became stranded on Earth. They found a way to 'inhabit' animals and eventually man. When they inhabited a human they were able to communicate with it. Think of it like another personality, a guiding voice with intellect, experience and advanced technology capabilities. Throughout history these... Read more
I really liked the overall concept, it was very fresh and unique. I especially liked how the Quasings' conflict on our planet were interwoven with different historical events.

I had a problem, though, with the characterization of the protagonist, Roen. I understand that he's supposed to be imperfect so the reader can relate to him better, but his buffoonery is so over-dramatized that it's just a distraction. I'm not expecting a Jack Reacher as a main character, but don't give me a Curly Howard, either. It makes it harder to believe, in such a short time, that he could overcome more skilled and experienced Genjix adversaries such as Marc and Sean in hand-to-hand combat, even with Tao helping him.

Warning: some spoilers below.

There seems to be a conflicting characterization of the Genjix. On one hand, we're supposed to believe that they are very technically advanced, and that they have centuries of experience with warfare. Yet despite a superior... Read more
Rating 4.5 stars rounded to 5.
An excellent James Bond-ish spin on a familiar Science Fiction trope. What if aliens possessed humans, but were forced to try to influence the humans behavior instead of directly controlling them?

I really liked this book and found it well written, well edited, engaging, entertaining and, at times, funny. The story follows Tao, an alien who has inhabited thousands of humans, as he is unfortunately stuck in an overweight computer programmer with huge self image problems named Roen. Since the aliens are at war, Tao must whip Roen into shape, making him into a super spy and then go on missions to protect assets and attack the enemy. At first, Roen thinks this is really cool, but later learns the down side and has existential questions about what they are doing.

The themes throughout are subtle enough that some readers might not catch them. Both Roen and Tan trouble over the idea of killing for the greater good. Does the end... Read more
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