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The Lives of Tao (Tao #1)

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  4,062 ratings  ·  613 reviews
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 Pr ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 460 pages
Published April 30th 2013 by Angry Robot
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Timothy Jenson Great book, if you like action adventure with an alien twist, or if you ever wish you had a real make believe friend.
The Republic of Thieves by Scott LynchA Memory of Light by Robert JordanEmperor of Thorns by Mark  LawrenceThe Daylight War by Peter V. BrettThe Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Can't Wait Sci-Fi/Fantasy of 2013
106th out of 618 books — 3,244 voters
Snow Crash by Neal StephensonThe Martian Chronicles by Ray BradburyConsider Phlebas by Iain M. BanksPandora's Star by Peter F. HamiltonFahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Sword and Laser Sci-Fi list
95th out of 519 books — 1,130 voters

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Community Reviews

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EDIT: Here's my interview with the author.

The Past:

Thousands if not millions of years ago aliens crashed to earth and wanted nothing more than to return. To make that happen, it became necessary to encourage technology growth in any way possible and when homo sapiens came around, they were the horse the Quasing (wraith-like aliens who can inhabit living bodies) bet on to make their return home a reality.

The Present:

Split into two warring factions, the Prophus and the Genjix, the Quasing use hum
Dan Schwent
When secret agent Edward Blair is betrayed and killed, Tao, the alien symbiont that lives within him, must find a suitable host to continue the centuries long war between his faction, The Prophus, and their archenemies, the Genjix. Too bad he winds up inside overweight IT worker Roen Tan instead. Can Tao whip Roen into shape before the Genjix find him?

When Angry Robot offered an ARC of this book in their weekly newsletter, I jumped at the chance to request one. Two alien factions waging war agai
The Lives of Tao has all the exuberance of a passion project banged out in a rush during National Novel Writing Month. All of the polish too, unfortunately.

It's a really fun book, don't get me wrong. For the most part, I enjoyed reading it. A good story. But not very good, you know? I love the premise -- that bodiless aliens crash-landed on Earth millennia ago, and discovered that while the climate was inhospitable to their gaseous forms, they could inhabit the animal life populating the planet
If you’re an overweight slob with a job you hate then maybe you just need to be inhabited by an ancient alien entity who can teach you some discipline and help you get your life in order. But before you sign up be aware that you’ll be picking a side in a centuries old war among the aliens to decide the fate of humanity, and you’ll have a very good chance of getting killed in the process. So maybe you want to take another look at that new diet after all?

This was entertaining but felt relatively l
Before you and I existed – in fact, before most people existed – our planet was inhabited by a group of aliens. Unable to exist on our planet in their natural form, the alien race, or Quasing, merged with the bodies of wayward creatures. As time went on, a divide was slowly created between two burgeoning sects, the aggressive Genjix and the peaceful, human-sympathetic Prophus. Both sides want to leave Earth and return to their home planet but they both have different ideas in how to go about it. ...more
Brad Foley
In the end, I think The Lives of Tao is worth reading, if you like secret-agent-y, teenage chosen-one, wet-dream martial arts action adventure. But only barely. It's kind of like a bland mash-up of "Kung-Fu Panda" and "Bodysnatchers". Like "Chuck", without the witty dialogue, or "Karate Kid" with Tony Robbins instead of Mr Miyagi.

The first big problem is the quality of the writing, which ranges from barely serviceable to ungrammatic and painful. A single example: "The fact that she enjoyed sport
Executive Summary: A fun present day sci-fi story that will cause you to never look at history the same way again.

Full Review
I had never heard of this series or Wesley Chu until Sword & Laser did an interview with him back in April. Not long after, the first two books of this series were on sale so I added them to the ever increasing pile. Recently, I was looking for something to read. A few people recommended this as a good light read and I'm happy to agree.

Aliens are among us. The conspi
Kevin Hearne
This book made me smile often and laugh out loud a few times. There's often great banter betwixt Tao and his new host, Roen.

The premise—that the great figures of history actually played host to aliens—is a tiny bit seductive and whispers to our insecurities. What if those people weren't REALLY great, you know, BECAUSE ALIENS? That would mean, perhaps, that the rest of us don't truly suck by comparison. It's just that most of us don't get taken over by an otherworldly parasite. :) Equally possib
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 4* of five

This isn't a perfect book. It's a first novel. But you know what? First novels this good come along rarely, and first novelists as classy and funny and smart as Chu deserve our support.

I bought my paperback copies of this book because I wanted to read 'em. But I bought my Kindle copy of the book purely to support the career of a writer who deserves my dollars and my eyeblinks.

At $1.99 for US Kindle users, you can afford to take a chance if you haven't read his books, and throw
Experiment BL626
That awkward moment when you enjoyed the book but hated the hero and wished he would drop dead, preferably within the first chapter he was introduced. OMFG, the whiny dipshit was insufferable. I understand characters need to have flaws or else they’re not believable, but at some point there is such a thing as too many flaws to the point that it is UNBELIEVABLE that the character is still ALIVE. Roen was the classic definition of TSTL. TSTL, I say!

“OMG. Gun shoots and kills people. OMG. This alie
Mogsy (MMOGC)
Alien stories are always a fun ride, especially when 1) the aliens are unconventional, and 2) their relationship with humankind goes beyond the typical invade them/uplift them dichotomy. Alien stories are even more interesting when they're mixed up in a spy thriller. That being said, the latter isn't usually my cup of tea, but I have to appreciate The Lives of Tao for not taking itself too seriously and for being just quirky enough to win me over.

I'm also as fond of unconventional heroes as I am
Myke Cole
I only ever blurb books that are so good, I wish I'd written them.

I blurbed this one.
Zachary Jernigan
OBJECTIVE RATING (my best stab at looking at the book's merits, regardless of whether or not I enjoyed it all that much): 4.5

PERSONAL RATING (how much the book "worked" for me personally): 4

A delightfully fun read, made more delightfully fun because I can picture the author himself acting out an early scene. Why can I picture this? BECAUSE I LITERALLY SAW HIM READ IT. IN PERSON. NAKED.

Be jealous. Be very, very jealous.

The naked part might not be true.

But naked or not, Wesley Chu is hawt, every
There's a lot to like about The Lives of Tao. Interesting premise (aliens inhabit humans and shaped history), realistic characters, and a fun story. Wesley Chu has a knack for humor and focused storytelling. It may be early in the year but I have a feeling this will be in my top-5 favorite books of 2015.

The Lives of Tao follows Roen as he becomes an unwilling host to the alien Tao. They learn about each other and Roen changes dramatically from the opening chapters to who his is at the epilogue.
Emma Sea
I do not understand why this book has such good reviews. It's not hideous or anything, but the writing and characterizations are so flat. Actually, I think that's probably deliberate. I think possibly Roen, our MC, might be the male version of Bella Swan: completely vapid, with a few simple shorthand trait notations to hook us into the story with.

Apparently this is "pulse-pounding, laugh-out-loud funny." Huh. I didn't get very far into the book, but I think maybe the humour is supposed to come f
Tabitha (Pabkins)
Every slob needs to be inhabited by an alien if it will get them into shape!

The Lives of Tao brings a whole new perspective to the history of the world. We know only what the history books tell us, but its all crap! We are really a species guided and manipulated by a race of aliens who crash landed on our planet millennia ago and they are bent on using us and the Earth’s to get the hell off this rock. One alien race, two factions but both vying for the upper hand and using us to further their ow
Kat  Hooper
Originally posted at FanLit:

Before the first animals showed up on Earth, immortal incorporeal aliens crash-landed on our planet. They’ve been trying to get back to their own planet ever since. Their strategy has been to promote the intellectual and technological development of the most promising animal species they could find — humans. They do this by inhabiting certain promising humans and guiding their thoughts and actions. They knew it would take thous
Eric Allen
I have a rule that if a book cannot interest and engage me within 4 chapters, it's probably not going to, and I stop reading and find something else that can get my attention in 4 chapters. Any book that I 4 chapter rule gets 1 star by default. In my book 1 star means virtually unreadable, and a book that can't grab my attention within 4 whole chapters is virtually unreadable to me. You've got 4 chapters to make me care about your story. It's not hard. I have a book collection that numbers in th ...more
Roen Tan is a bit of a loser. He is stuck in a dead end job working in IT, has a weight problem because of a love of TV dinners and really isn't going anywhere with his life. Secret agent material? Hardly.

Tao is a Quasing, an ancient alien who have lived on this planet for millions of years, and who inhabit the native species of the planet whilst they are alive. The Quasings have split into to factions, Prophus who Tao is a member of , and the savage, powerful Genjix. They both have the same ai
The Lives of Tao is basically a spy thriller with aliens, some wise-cracking, a fairly colourless romance, and the whiny boy has to be made into a warrior trope. It's fun to read, but I think it's best not to think too deeply about it. It's well-paced, and despite the main character's whining, it's never a chore to read. The pacing kept me from thinking too much about issues of morality and if either side of this war could really be considered unequivocally the good guys.

Now that I've finished
Enjoyed the opening premise & exchanges between aliens & humans which was as advertised very humorous, solid 4 stars.

The aliens are great with their own brand of humour & excellent one-liners as they know their hosts better than they actually do PLUS they’ve been around longer than humanity & so to speak been around the block, although they oft tell their hosts they wished they'd gone with the Neanderthals & not the Cro-Magnon’s..... you find as the story goes along that the
Alex Ristea
This is a fun and honest book.

It's hard to believe that this is a debut novel, because Wes writes with a confidence well ahead of his career.

One of the better parts has to be how it's a secret agent book that doesn't glamourize the industry at all. Here we have a protagonist who vomits and has to retreat from active duty when he first kills someone. A hero whose first missions are boring reconnaissance—which make up 99% of intelligence work anyway.

But my favourite part is the history that's thr
Michael Underwood
A rip-roaring rollercoaster ride. Roen is a fantastic reluctant hero who learns discipline, courage, and even leadership as he is thrust into a war he never even knew existed.

Chu's secret histories are possibly my favorite part of this novel, imagining a cold war between two alien factions fighting for control over human history.

Strong action, solid comedy, and great high-energy storytelling.

This was an extremely fun debut and I enjoyed reading about the transformation of a complete underdog into a protagonist worth rooting for. Wesley Chu marks himself with this comical and highly entertaining debut which MIB meets The Karate Kid and with a dollop of quirkiness. More to come in full FBC review in April...
This book is just plain fun. I have some quibbles with world-building/plot (why didn't they just move Roen to Europe?, etc) but they fade away in the face of the page-turning Chu generates. I'm eager to spend more time with Tao.
Timothy Ward
Reviewed at Adventures in SciFi Publishing

The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu has been out and praised by readers for the past year, winning the ALA Alex Award in 2014 and being a Goodreads Finalist for Best Science Fiction in 2013. Many have compared The Lives of Tao to the TV show Chuck because it is also a light hearted tale of an unlikely hero given super spy powers. Where The Lives of Tao is different is our main character Roen is given his new “powers” via an alien entity that enters his body,
I had so much fun livetweeting my read that I did it again with Wesley Chu at #LoTaoLT and lots of fun. I'm certain The Lives of Tao is a little peek in to Chu's mind and I would definitely like to raid his movie collection and compare notes on the Terminator saga one day...

The prologue introduces us to Edward, host to the alien named Tao. They have an amusing relationship that we soon learn goes well beyond mere parasite and host. Their friendship is very real and, in a surprising turn of event
The Lives of Tao, is Wesley Chu’s first novel, and as an author, I kind of hate him a little bit for that. I picked up and started reading the book because I had met Wesley a while back, and he seemed like a pretty cool person. I finished reading it because it’s such a fun read.

Tao is basically a symbiotic life form, one who requires a human or animal host to survive on Earth. His people crash landed on our planet ages ago, and are now at war. Tao and the Prophus want to peacefully encourage hum
As a long time reader of both science fiction and fantasy I often find myself weary of books that cross genres. Call me old fashion but I enjoy my aliens and spaceships safely in space and my orcs and swords safely in the woods. When it comes to crossovers or genre mashes I’ve been burned, books that either poorly mixes them or just end up ruining what’s best of both genres. One of the best crossovers has been the Split Infinity series by Peirs Anthony and in that book there was a fantasy world ...more
Katrina Lantz
A couple's review:

Afterglow by Bill:

Using the combination of action from a James Bond movie and the dialogue of an Adam Sandler movie, Lives of Tao is one of the most unique spy books you will ever read in your life. The book tells the story of a man named Roen who never thought much of his life until an alien named Tao takes over his body after Tao's previous host dies during a mission. The rest of the book shows the conflict between Roen and the voice in his head (Tao) who gives him the direct
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Wesley Chu’s best friend is Michael Jordan, assuming that best friend status is earned by a shared television commercial. If not, then his best friend is his dog Eva who he can often be seen riding like a trusty steed through the windy streets of Chicago.

Unfortunately, Chu’s goals of using Hanes underwear commercials to launch a lucrative career following in Marky Mark’s footsteps came to naught.
More about Wesley Chu...

Other Books in the Series

Tao (3 books)
  • The Deaths of Tao (Tao, #2)
  • The Rebirths of Tao (Tao, #3)
The Deaths of Tao (Tao, #2) Time Salvager (Time Salvager #1) The Rebirths of Tao (Tao, #3) Time Siege (Time Salvager #2) Foundations and Advances in Data Mining

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“You made your own bed, and now curse others for putting you there.” 16 likes
“Besides, criminal masterminds are people too. They need groceries and cable like the rest of us.” 7 likes
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