Review: The Lives of Tao

TheLivesOfTao-144dpiBy Wesley Chu

Angry Robot, out now

An out of shape desk jockey is the only hope in a millennia-long war…

Wesley Chu’s sci-fi spy novel is hugely entertaining: by turns amusing, thrilling, and surprising, it begins with the sort of pre-credits sequence that Bond audiences have grown up, and then pulls the rug out from under the reader.

The Quasing have to be inside a living organism in order to survive – and the only one that Tao can choose is… Roen Tan. Who is about as far from Daniel Craig’s 007 as James Corden (who for some reason I kept mentally envisaging in the role of Roen). He doesn’t want to be caught up in this; he certainly doesn’t want to undergo the rigorous training; and he definitely doesn’t want to get killed.

We learnt that the hosts adjust to the Quasing inside them (and see it with some other characters as well), and vice versa, and it’s the way in which the two form a true symbiosis that underpins the book. Yes, we’re in Man from UNCLE territory, with secret wars going on between factions that the rest of the world don’t know about; it’s a conspiracy theorist’s wet dream in terms of a fresh explanation for world events (things happen exactly as in ours, but not for the same reasons). But although Chu recognises that he’s created a heightened reality, it’s one that readers can relate to.

Hopefully this is the first of a series – it would be interesting to see the situation from the perspective of some of the other hosts, particularly in light of the change to the status quo at the end of the book.

Verdict: Note to James Patterson fans: this is how to write a sci-fi page turner. 8/10

Paul Simpson

Click here to order The Lives of Tao from Amazon.co.uk

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