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The Lives of Tao

(Tao #1)

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  8,367 ratings  ·  1,060 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 28th 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)

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Average rating 3.74  · 
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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
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
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
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
May 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: aliens, 2014, 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
Feb 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebook, syfy, fiction, 2013
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
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
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
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
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 conspira
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
Apr 18, 2022 rated it liked it
Wesley Chu's first book popped on the scene to widespread acclaim about a decade ago and I can see why. While this is technically science fiction-- it does involve aliens after all-- it reads more along the line of an urban fantasy/thriller novel. In any case, it is fun, lite and pretty snarky at times.

Millions of years ago an alien spacecraft crashed on Earth; remember the 'extinction event' asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs? Well, that was the alien crash! The aliens cannot survive 'in t
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
“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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
Kara 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
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
Sep 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-trl, sci-fi
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 aliens are responsib
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
Oleksandr Zholud
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
This is a SF thriller about a great war between two groups of aliens, who can inhabit human bodies and who are behind much of the mankind history.

The story starts as an action thriller, when some super-spy guy Edward with a voice in his head infiltrates some kind of high security building. His initial killing of two guards without remorse and even with panache put me off (for right now I don’t enjoy violence for violence’s sake). However, the super-spy in ambushed, betrayed and forced to commit
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.
3.5 stars Super fun, light sci-fi easy reading I enjoyed it.
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
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. ...more
Jan 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book feels like the 2nd or 3rd draft of a NaNoWriMo novel. It feels like Chu had a concept he was really excited about, but did not want to put in the time and effort to edit into something good. The writing is completely atrocious.

Here I think you need an example. This is just describing the character dreading doing a difficult task: "Summoning what seemed an unnecessarily exorbitant amount of strength to finish turning the handle, he finally went inside and closed the door behind him" (31
Dec 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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Wesley Chu is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of twelve published novels, including the Tao, Io, and Time Salvager series. He was the 2015 winner of the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. His debut, The Lives of Tao, won the American Library Association's Alex Award, and was a finalist for the Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Science Fiction. He is the coauthor of the Eldest Curses serie ...more

Other books in the series

Tao (3 books)
  • The Deaths of Tao (Tao, #2)
  • The Rebirths of Tao (Tao, #3)

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“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.”
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