The Lives of Tao (Review)

The Lives of Tao (Review)

kay, so the idea here is that an alien ship crashed here millions of years ago. The aliens are gaseous creatures who cannot live long in our air but can enter into living things (but once they do, they are stuck until death). They cannot really directly control those creatures but can speak to them using the magic of italic fonts. And with the rise of humans, now they have a chance to shape our race to their liking, to influence us to greater heights (and along the way, to build them a starship to return home).

Kinda odd, right?

But I’m going to say it works. It turns out that the aliens have had a rift in their ranks – one side wants to force human innovation through war, the others wish to guide them through peace. And this difference has exploded into a secret battle across the globe, with hosts fighting hosts and the aliens hopping from cooling corpse to unsuspecting host. The creature of the title, Tao, has just had to leave his host (who just died a gruesome death) and had to find a new host with the clock running. Out of options, he picks Roen Tan, an out of shape man-boy computer geek who has no confidence or backbone. Tao has no choice but to slowly train Roen up, making him the warrior fit to carry the great Tao about.

And here’s the thing – it’s funny and entertaining and interesting. There is no montage that makes Roen a warrior – that’s the point of the book. The battles are exciting, the characters engaging, and the situation interesting. Really, the conversations between worldly Tao and millennial Roen are very funny sometimes.

Possibly my only quibble (don’t I always have one) are the tactics the two organizations employ. It seems like they tend to react a little “unprofessionally”. The reasons they do things are often more emotional than logical. Some of their missions seem cobbled together, often on-the-fly. Hosts and aliens alike tend to operate on angry rage – good for the story, but sometimes “cartoony”. It’s like watching a James Bond movie – you know that spies aren’t really like that. But it’s action and gloating villains and secret bases and action squads. But fun. Worth a look.

So if I were your alien residing in your brain, I’d tell you to buy this book!