Review: The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu

June 3, 2013 4 stars, Book Review 12 ★★★★

Pabkins’ One Liner: Every slob needs to be inhabited by an alien if it will get them into shape!


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 Prophus, and the savage, powerful Genjix – the aliens have been in a state of civil war for centuries. Both sides are searching for a way off-planet, and the Genjix will sacrifice the entire human race, if that’s what it takes.

Meanwhile, Roen is having to train to be the ultimate secret agent. Like that’s going to end up well…

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 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 own ends. Hey it could happen, and Wesley Chu does a really awesome job of sucking you in and giving you the goods in a laugh out loud kinda way.

Every nerd probably has some visions grandeur. Seeing themselves (ourselves haha) as the characters read about or watched in action flicks. Sitting back reading a comic or playing an online role playing video games thinking yeah I’m just that bad ass. But Roen Tan really is just a fat, lazy slob of a loser, being a nerd isn’t bad but Roen hasn’t ever taken pride in himself and that is how Tao finds him…in a sad sorry state. They are quite the crazy pair these two. If Tao had his own body I imagine together they would look like Jasper and Horace from 101 Dalmations. My favorite scene in The Lives of Tao is when Roen is first encouraged by Tao to defend himself. It was intense and hilarious.

“Nearly a minute into their standoff, after a lot of bravado on both sides, something in Roen snapped. With a burst of momentary courage and the high pitched roar of a raging mouse, he swung the broken bottles above his head and charged.” – pg 52

But not only was it funny it really made me think. Take a real good look at your life and I think so many people just live through each day rather than living their lives. This smacks you in the face with that knowledge and forces you to wonder if there is a little bit of Roen Tan in yourself. It’s great how Chu does this a few times with stark reality that I’m sure many of us can relate to but even more frequently with comedy.

“This is all I’ll amount to. This is my stapler. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My stapler is my best…” It is not even really yours. If you quit your job, they keep the stapler.” – pg 125

Roen goes from an overweight loser with no self esteem to an international man of mystery. Of course he had a lot of help along the way but I think that is also what made his character so great.

“How is that for James Bond-like? This message will self-destruct in ten… “Shut up, Tao. And that’s Inspector Gadget anyway.” – pg 108

Did I want to smack the shit out of him quite a few times? Hell Yes! – that was the point though. You feel his character development and growth in an intimate way due to the way the story is narrated by both Roen and Tao.

Though the beginning was a little slow because of the part that I like to call “let’s get this fatty in shape” portion – it read quite a bit slower than the remainder of the book. Luckily the comedic content helped blister it along such that I didn’t mind the pace at all. It was a great showing for a debut book and one that I will definitely recommend to my nerd cohorts.


The Lives of Tao

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• This advanced reader copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. Please note that this post also contains affiliate links. To view our full Blog Policy, click here.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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12 Responses to “Review: The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu”

  1. Alicia

    WOW, I love this new perspective to history idea!! It’ll be quite interesting to reconsider, maybe we really were minions of aliens and somehow crashed into Earth xD Roen and Tao are such interesting characters, really looking forward to reading about them!

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Yeah I loved their interaction. Their dialogue was so well done. I can’t imagine how I would react to all of a sudden hearing a voice in my head…oh wait yeah…I’d want to commit myself. – only if the voice didn’t sound like MY voice. I talk to myself all the time. tee hee. Enjoy!!

  2. kimbacaffeinate

    Funny, thought provoking and he made you randy? I love the sound of this. Sometimes I think I hear my inner cover whore, coffee addict and bookaholic. They all have their own unique personality. Great review!

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      haha! I don’t know about Randy – but I definitely enjoyed it. I wonder how well I’d handle the alien inhabiting my body bit. bah to never be ALONE again could you imagine that? I think I’d go insane!

  3. Nina @ Death Books and Tea

    Oh this sounds hilariously awesome. I love it when sci-fi comes with a good dose of realness to it too. And I love getting close to characters as they develop. Definitely looks like something I should get hold of soon. Thanks for the review!

  4. Ratri Anugrah

    Oh no! I’m one of the people who just live through each day. I guess I should read this book!! Didn’t win it on goodreads’ giveaway 🙁