Audiobook Review: THE LIVES OF TAO by Wesley Chu

16243112The 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, providing wisdom beyond his years. These aliens have been here for millennia, influencing humanity via their hosts in a war under the surface of what most humans are aware of. Roen is an out of shape computer programmer when his alien, Tao, enters his body. The changes in his life as he gets in shape and meets a girl added a nice emotional touch to the story. Roen hates his job, has no self-confidence and no direction in life. Tao has been around for millennia and has learned from some great warriors like one of his hosts, Genghis Khan, as well as having created Tai Chi. This no doubt forces Roen to grow up fast or give up on his potential for greatness.

Roen’s struggle to embrace his potential and put the work in to achieve it was my favorite aspect of this story. In the midst of this scifi thriller is a story that many can relate with, the question of how to escape a career and lifestyle that does not fulfill and yet seems so impossible to break away from. Easing our experience through this tough, serious reality is the fantasy element of escaping through Roen’s super cool circumstance of symbiosis with a wise alien. And then on top of that you have the spy action as he moves up the ranks and goes toe-to-toe with some of the worst aliens on the planet.

The Lives of Tao exceeded my expectations. I didn’t know beforehand if this would be a good fit for my reading mood, but the combination of relatable and likable character in Roen with the deep but not overwhelming worldbuilding in the secret alien war and finally the cool spy action all made this one of my new favorite series. I hear it keeps getting better, so I’m excited for continuing on with The Deaths of Tao and The Rebirths of Tao. I enjoyed the audiobook narration so much, I’d really like to continue in that format. Some audiobooks have too many characters and prose that is unclear to follow, but the narration by Mikael Naramore added enough distinction to the voices to imprint the characters and kept the story going with excitement so that I didn’t daydream and lose my place. There were parts that were less exciting than the interest built in the beginning, but there were also some high tension conflict moments in the end that showed Mr. Chu knows where to hit his characters so you feel them hurt. So, there’s room for improvement, but as a debut novel in a series that I hear improves by leaps and bounds, Lives of Tao gets a strong recommendation for readers within and outside the genre.

*Note: Books One and Two are at a special price on Audible for $3.49. I’ve bought Book Two, The Deaths of Tao, so on we go!
Timothy C. Ward
Executive Producer

ScavengerTimothy C. Ward has been podcasting since 2010, first as AudioTim, and now with AISFP. His newest story, Scavenger: A Sand Diver Tale, is available on Kindle and Smashwords for $.99. His novel in progress, Order After Dark, is a Post-apocalyptic Fantasy set in the rift between Iowa and the Abyss. Sign up to his author newsletter for updates on new releases.

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About Timothy C. Ward

Timothy C. Ward is a former Executive Producer for AISFP. His debut novel, Scavenger: Evolution, blends Dune with Alien in a thriller where sand divers uncover death and evolution within America's buried fortresses. Sign up to his author newsletter for updates on new releases.

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