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The Lives of Tao

(Tao #1)

by
3.75  ·  Rating details ·  7,383 ratings  ·  948 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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Veach Glines If you do not have any care for bad grammar, poor editing, cliches, and plot holes -- or you can overlook them on every page -- then you will not hate…moreIf you do not have any care for bad grammar, poor editing, cliches, and plot holes -- or you can overlook them on every page -- then you will not hate this homophobic and misogynistic author.

Here is a way to determine if this is a good book for you:

Do you like the Transformers movies? Can't wait to see the next one? This is a book you will enjoy.(less)

Community Reviews

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3.75  · 
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 ·  7,383 ratings  ·  948 reviews


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seak
Nov 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
...more
unknown
Jul 19, 2013 rated it liked it
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
...more
Dan Schwent
Mar 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Kemper
May 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014, aliens, spy-vs-spy
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
...more
Brad Foley
Jul 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Brandon
Feb 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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
...more
Experiment BL626
May 26, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Rob
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
...more
Bradley
May 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
Is this a wholly urban fantasy? Or is it a light sci-fi adventure? Is it Office Space meets Star Trek Trills? Is it a self-fulfillment fantasy for overweight and undermotivated readers who dream of getting the ultimate lifestyle overhaul into becoming the ultimate ninja?

Yes. Yes, it is.

And for any of you that aren't already hooked into reading the first of this trilogy? The writing is crisp and clear and it flows like ice down a mountain. We've got some pretty decent fight scenes, an obligatory
...more
Veronique
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, stars-4-0
“Should he plead the insanity defense or the alien-told-me-to-do-it defense?”

The adjective most people seem to use for this book is ‘fun’ and indeed, it is! Chu mixes a coming-of-age story with comedy, espionage and scifi, and the result is pure enjoyment.

Yes, the pace is very fast with plenty of action scenes and thrilling moments, but ultimately the core of the novel is the brilliant relationship between Tao and Roen. The banter was hilarious but that apart, each personality came across so n
...more
Trin
Jan 02, 2016 rated it did not like it
Sexist garbage. Not only is this book a textbook example of semi-competent male hero/hyper-competent female sidekick, Chu takes things a notch further by suggesting that women are literally interchangeable. Chu's worthless male "hero" is in an improbable love triangle with two skilled women, and Chu actually solves this problem by (view spoiler). Because of the wonders of science fiction, I guess.

So congrats, dude! You've achieved a
...more
Richard Derus
Apr 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Paul
Aug 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Simply put its a great Scifi book.
Concept is well worked and well thought out. PArt Body snatchers but with the host and human having to work together. The historical implications are both interesting and fun.
The setup is nicely done, with Tao going from being inside an Elite forces style soldier to a lazy slob.
The pacing of the story is brilliant , plenty of edge of the seat action and doesn't get bogged down even when pace is slowed for sections.
And what really marks it out is there is a great
...more
Myke Cole
May 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I only ever blurb books that are so good, I wish I'd written them.

I blurbed this one.
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
...more
Dara
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
...more
Eric Allen
Aug 05, 2015 rated it did not like it
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
Todeskun
Jul 17, 2013 rated it did not like it
I picked up this book because of the author's "Big Idea" post on Scalzi's blog. I don't think I've ever been so disappointed. To begin with, I found the main characters incredibly unsympathetic. Roen Tan is a passive, whining character who never really engages with anything. His constant litany of "why me?" is grating at best, off-putting at worst. Tao is smug, obnoxious, arrogant and condescending. He claims to be fighting for the sake of humanity, but his treatment of Roen makes it seem like h ...more
Kat  Hooper
May 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Originally posted at FanLit: http://www.fantasyliterature.com/revi...

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
...more
Tabitha
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
...more
Andy
Sep 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, 2014-trl
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
...more
Ben Babcock
There was this show, Chuck, on NBC back in the day. It began as the story of a computer technician at a “Buy More” who receives an email from a former college roommate. The email uploads the Intersect, a CIA/NSA supercomputer, into his brain. So the CIA and NSA send two agents, Sarah Walker and John Casey, to be Chuck’s handlers, to watch over him and keep him safe until the new Intersect is built and Chuck can be “decommissioned.” But if Chuck isn’t prepared for life as a spy, Sarah and Casey a ...more
mich
3.5 stars Super fun, light sci-fi easy reading I enjoyed it.
Paul
Dec 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2014
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
...more
Alex Ristea
Nov 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Nikki
Aug 14, 2013 rated it liked it
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
...more
Robyn
Jan 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
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.
Zayne
Jan 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This was one fun, epic joyride. I loved every second of this book. After just finishing the The Malazan Book of the Fallen series , this was like a breath of fresh air. As opposed to the gritty, dark, and very dramatic themes of the Malazan series, this was laugh-out-loud funny and heartwarming.

I was immediately entranced with this book after just a few pages. Roen is just an average joe, a programmer (like me!), out-of-shape, and living a dull life, and suddenly he's thrown into an ancient ali
...more
Jon
Wesley Chu nominated for John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2012 or 2013).

The Lives of Tao surprised me and kept me reading almost non-stop. I only took a break to attend a star party hosted by my astronomy club at a proposed site for a new observatory. Lots of action, some good witty sarcasm and even a good emotional connection between me and the protagonist and his unusual predicament(s). And for once, the IT ge
...more
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1,196 followers
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

Other books in the series

Tao (4 books)
  • The Deaths of Tao (Tao, #2)
  • The Rebirths of Tao (Tao, #3)
  • The Days of Tao (Tao #3.5)
“You made your own bed, and now curse others for putting you there.” 26 likes
“Look to your right... It is the path back home. If you choose, you can take it. It is safe, easy, and comfortable. You do not have to work out or fight or do anything else you do not want to...

Or you can keep moving forward. I will not lie to you. I cannot predict what may become of you. It will require a lot of training, hard work, study, and danger. But in the very end, you will know strength. I swear it. You might just become someone who will make a difference in the world.”
22 likes
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