The Deaths of Tao (Tao, #2)
Booklist Starred Review Shelf Awareness Starred ReviewThe sequel to The Lives of Tao.The Prophus and the Genjix are at war. For centuries they have sought a way off-planet, guiding humanity’s social and technological development to the stage where space travel is possible. The end is now in sight, and both factions have plans to leave the Earth, but the Genjix method will mean the destruction of the human race.That’s a price they’re willing to pay.It’s up to Roen and Tao to save the world. Oh, dear…File Under: Science Fiction [ Manning Up | A Long Journey | Bye-Bye Mankind | Personal Space ]

The Deaths of Tao (Tao, #2) Details

TitleThe Deaths of Tao (Tao, #2)
Author
FormatMass Market Paperback
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 29th, 2013
PublisherAngry Robot Books
ISBN0857663321
ISBN-139780857663320
Number of pages462 pages
Rating
GenreScience Fiction, Fiction, Fantasy, Aliens

The Deaths of Tao (Tao, #2) Review

  • Dan Schwent
    September 5, 2013
    It's a few years after the events of The Lives of Tao and things have gone down hill. Roen and Jill have married, had a child, and separated. The war between the Prophus and the Genjix is reaching it's final moments and things don't look good for the Prophus. Can Roen and the rest of the Prophus stop the Genjix's plan to turn Earth into a duplicate of their homeworld, destroying humanity in the process?I got this ARC from Netgalley. Thank you, Netgalley!War is a hell of a thing, especially when It's a few years after the events of The Lives of Tao and things have gone down hill. Roen and Jill have married, had a child, and separated. The war between the Prophus and the Genjix is reaching it's final moments and things don't look good for the Prophus. Can Roen and the rest of the Prophus stop the Genjix's plan to turn Earth into a duplicate of their homeworld, destroying humanity in the process?I got this ARC from Netgalley. Thank you, Netgalley!War is a hell of a thing, especially when it's a war between two alien factions that have been using humanity as pawns for a millennium. That's pretty much the core lesson I took from The Deaths of the Tao. Picking up a few years after The Lives of Tao, things have changed and not for the better. While Roen is far from the fat IT guy turned secret agent of the first book, his life is an even bigger ruin. He's split with his wife, never sees his kid, and struggles to hold things together in the war with the Genjix.I'll be honest, I wasn't completely sold on this one at first. Half the fun of the first book was Roen getting whipped into shape and now that he's actually competent, that was lost. However, I gave it time and was pretty entertained. The chemistry between Roen and Tao was still there, still amping up what could have been another bland secret agent thriller. The body count was a lot higher in this one and the bad guys were much badder.The Genjix plot to turn Earth into a copy of Quasar and breed Quasing was pretty well done. Enzo and the others were scarily capable as far as bad guys go. Multiple last stands going on simultaneously made the last 20% or so really hard to put down.Speaking of the last 20%, it was about that time that I realized Mrs. Chu's little boy wasn't going to be able to wrap everything up in this book like I originally thought. The ending was jaw dropping, to say the least.While I didn't like this one quite as much as the first, it still managed to squeak into four territory. Yo, Chu, get crackin' on the next one!
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  • Mogsy (MMOGC)
    July 20, 2013
    Updated: An interview with the author! http://bibliosanctum.blogspot.com/201...4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.blogspot.com/201...I had the great pleasure of reading Wesley Chu's debut The Lives of Tao earlier this year, so needless to say I was pretty excited about reading the sequel. And to my delight, The Deaths of Tao turned out to be a worthy follow-up to its predecessor! In many ways, I liked it even more than the first book; after all, the scope of the story has got Updated: An interview with the author! http://bibliosanctum.blogspot.com/201...4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.blogspot.com/201...I had the great pleasure of reading Wesley Chu's debut The Lives of Tao earlier this year, so needless to say I was pretty excited about reading the sequel. And to my delight, The Deaths of Tao turned out to be a worthy follow-up to its predecessor! In many ways, I liked it even more than the first book; after all, the scope of the story has gotten bigger, but it still retains all the humor and action that first drew me in.And yet, there are some changes too, most of which I enjoyed. For one thing, we're no longer focusing on the transformation of Roen Tan from an overweight dejected IT guy to an athletic fighting machine. After the first book, Tao has managed to train his human host into a full-fledged Prophus agent. But just because we no longer have the amusement of seeing Tao whip Roen into shape anymore, that doesn't mean the fun is over. Roen still has problems, just most of them now involve his personal life.A few years have passed since the end of the first book. Apparently there has been no happily-ever-after for Roen and Jill, even after the two of them had gotten married and had a son. The Prophus and Genjix war has caused a rift between the couple, and Jill blames Tao for making Roen put his missions ahead of his family. It also hasn't helped that their side has been steadily losing ground while the enemy has been making headway in their plans to dominate the human race.Things are looking dire, but I actually quite like the direction this series has taken, as the dynamics between Roen and Tao's relationship have shifted. Of course, the humor and witty banter's still there, but now Roen's crumbling marriage is a source of tension between the human and alien, not to mention the pressure's on everyone now that it looks like the Genjix are about to win. The Prophus aren't taking it lying down though, and are still doing what they can to stop them.Normally, I'd be wary about sequels that skip ahead a bunch of years, with characters whose relationships have evolved drastically. To a certain extent, a part of me always wishes that they could stay the same, but at the same time I know that runs the risk of becoming stale and stagnant. Changes therefore have to be handled carefully. However, I liked everything Wesley Chu did in this sequel; the changes are all compelling and they add to the story. I especially enjoyed reading about how the past few years have affected Roen and Jill, as well as their Quasings Tao and Baji. It's also great how the narration has expanded beyond Roen to include Jill and others.Like I said, The Deaths of Tao is bigger and better. Firstly, this time we get to follow the war on a more international scale. Roen and his team are sent on a mission to Taiwan, where most of this book takes place, and Wesley Chu brings this setting to life with his wonderful descriptions of the country and its culture. Next, we discover that the Quasing conflict actually goes a lot deeper than we realized, extending into the economic and political realms. More information is revealed about how the aliens have influenced humanity and our history since time eternal. Lastly, a new villain emerges in the form of Enzo, a truly scary and insane megalomaniac who's unpredictable because he doesn't always play by the rules. Still, I find it incredibly interesting to see into the heads of bad guys, and as such I was pretty happy that we also got a part of the book told in his perspective.I couldn't believe it when I got to the ending. Admittedly, it came way too soon, but it was also everything I could hope for. We get not one but three explosive clashes happening in different parts of the world, and then both alien factions raise the stakes. Now begins the wait for book three, and thanks to that cliffhanger I know I'm going to have a hard time being patient to see what happens next!
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  • seak
    April 22, 2013
    Wesley Chu came out of nowhere last year and rocked my socks off. I really enjoyed these books about an alien race that inhabits humans while fighting a secret war against each other in James Bond fashion. The Deaths of Tao was only a slight let down after The Lives of Tao, though not by much, and really only because of my own biases. I tend to enjoy the first of a series more than the rest. There's something about experiencing all the newness, all the clever ideas and magics, for the first time Wesley Chu came out of nowhere last year and rocked my socks off. I really enjoyed these books about an alien race that inhabits humans while fighting a secret war against each other in James Bond fashion. The Deaths of Tao was only a slight let down after The Lives of Tao, though not by much, and really only because of my own biases. I tend to enjoy the first of a series more than the rest. There's something about experiencing all the newness, all the clever ideas and magics, for the first time that really sells me. Couple that with a training montage type book and it's hard to beat.Sometimes I think cliches are only for me. Everyone else on the internet hates them. :)When you think too hard, it's barely science fiction, which is amazing that I still enjoyed it as much as I did. It's not like the aliens do all that much to enhance the host other than impart millennia of knowledge.Anyway, Deaths of Tao was on the same level as Lives - tons of action, great dialogue, and non-stop pace. I'm looking forward to more in this series and the other thing Chu's got cooking.4 out of 5 Stars (highly recommended)
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  • Brandon
    April 3, 2013
    The boiling point has arrived in the eons long battle between rival Quasing factions the Prophus and the Genjix. Following a change in leadership, the Genjix are now led by a merciless monster who will stop at nothing to wipe out his adversaries. With their backs up against the wall, can the Prophus handle this new found ruthless aggression from their enemies or will the Genjix finally succeed in their quest for ultimate power?Full Disclosure: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for The boiling point has arrived in the eons long battle between rival Quasing factions the Prophus and the Genjix. Following a change in leadership, the Genjix are now led by a merciless monster who will stop at nothing to wipe out his adversaries. With their backs up against the wall, can the Prophus handle this new found ruthless aggression from their enemies or will the Genjix finally succeed in their quest for ultimate power?Full Disclosure: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a fair review.Wes Chu’s The Deaths of Tao is his own personal Empire Strikes Back.This time around, following a significant change in direction, the Genjix are more focused than ever to wipe out their opponents and solidify their power. Enzo, the new leader, is pushing hard to create an environment in which the Quasing can exist outside of their human vessels. In doing so, the Quasing (sans human) are able to come together unaccompanied and get their groove on so to speak, producing offspring.Not only has Enzo ramped up development on creating the aforementioned environment but he’s also pushing a take-no-prisoners approach in the ongoing war with the Prophus. Despite his shocking methods, you can’t really blame the guy. Enzo has been molded since birth to serve the Genjix faction, therefore his loyalty runs deep and he’ll do anything to advance their standing on the world stage.As far as the hero of the story is concerned, Roen has advanced by leaps and bounds since we last saw him. Long gone is the frozen pizza eating, video game playing schlub from the first novel. He’s been molded into a precise and confident individual, mentored and led by Tao, running his own private missions while living off the grid. Before taking off with Tao, Roen had carved out a pretty comfortable life for himself. He fell in love, got hitched and had a kid, which makes his disappearance all the more intriguing and complex. When he officially returns to the Prophus, he’s not exactly met with open arms and it leads to some great writing from Chu.While I enjoyed the novel immensely, I found that the story lost a little of its charm when it came to Roen and Tao. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t expect a repeat of Tao training Roen but I found myself missing the comedic strength of Wes Chu’s writing. That’s not to say it isn’t there, Roen and Tao have some great moments, just be aware that the book concentrates heavily on the political battle in Washington and the controversy surrounding Enzo’s rise to power within the Genjix organization. This time around, the storytelling is more dramatic, the action is far more brutal and the stakes are a hell of a lot higher.Without spoiling the ending, Deaths of Tao firmly establishes itself as a bridge between the first and final novel. That’s not to say that there isn’t really an ending, just that Chu leaves you longing for part three. Bring it on!Cross Posted @ Every Read Thing
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  • Lisa
    June 23, 2013
    Full review: http://www.tenaciousreader.com/2013/1...The Deaths of Tao is a continuation of everything that was done right in Lives of Tao. Action, suspense, humor, and yes, plot as well.
  • Patrice Hoffman
    May 3, 2013
    What the heck!?! I was not ready for that ending and I'm anxious to get to the next book in the Tao series. Wesley Chu has followed The Lives of Tao with The Deaths of Tao. The Deaths of Tao is just as explosively written, thrilling, and fun as its predecessor. Thank you Wesley Chu! Often times sophomore efforts are easy to pass over, become unnecessary or obscure. The Deaths of Tao is an exception to that rule.We pick up a few years later from the end of The Lives of Tao with a tense battle sce What the heck!?! I was not ready for that ending and I'm anxious to get to the next book in the Tao series. Wesley Chu has followed The Lives of Tao with The Deaths of Tao. The Deaths of Tao is just as explosively written, thrilling, and fun as its predecessor. Thank you Wesley Chu! Often times sophomore efforts are easy to pass over, become unnecessary or obscure. The Deaths of Tao is an exception to that rule.We pick up a few years later from the end of The Lives of Tao with a tense battle scene that's sure to excite readers. Chu's battle scenes are what I live for when reading this series. Fast, engaging, littered with witty banter, and bloody. Jill, Roen's wife, is ambushed by the Genjix. Let the war rage on!Before I say anything more I do suggest that anyone interested in this title do themselves a favor and read book 1. The Deaths of Tao moves at break-neck speed so if the basics of who are battling and why they're battling is new to you. Stop and do your homework with The Lives of Tao. This is an important step in your induction to Chu's world where opposing alien forces are using humans as vessels to obtain the same goal. Why are they fighting then if they both want the same goal? Because one(The Genjix)doesn't care how many humans they send to the eternal sea.The relationship between Tao and Roen is still as entertaining as I remember. The only difference I've seen in the change in Roen and his use. Roen's character growth is a refreshing reality that Chu did not ignore. Roen is no longer wet behind the ears. He's a trained vessel who's mission is clear. He needs to help save the world. For him, that world includes his wife and son. This addition to the series allows for emotions not regularly found in pages dealing with combat. Ultimately, Roen and Tao take a backseat in The Deaths of Tao which I didn't mind, eventually. Getting perspective from other Quasing helped to numb that pain and made the pill much easier to swallow. We are given a lot more depth to Jill and her alien Baji. They're relationship is just as dysfunctionally functioning as Roen and Tao's.The Deaths of Tao is an equally riveting and pulse-pounding ride as its predecessor The Lives of Tao. I am anxiously waiting for the next installment. I question if I'd risk life and limb only to live forever through an alien.
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  • Rob
    June 21, 2014
    Executive Summary: Another fun entry in the Tao series that ends with such an awful cliffhanger! Full Review A few months ago I had never heard of this series or Mr. Chu. Thanks to Sword & Laser and an Amazon daily deal, I corrected that oversight.I rather enjoyed the The Lives of Tao when I read it a few months ago, and moved this book up my list planning to fit it in as soon as my book club schedule allowed.Now that I have read it, all that I can say is "Damn You Wesley Chu!"That's a sure- Executive Summary: Another fun entry in the Tao series that ends with such an awful cliffhanger! Full Review A few months ago I had never heard of this series or Mr. Chu. Thanks to Sword & Laser and an Amazon daily deal, I corrected that oversight.I rather enjoyed the The Lives of Tao when I read it a few months ago, and moved this book up my list planning to fit it in as soon as my book club schedule allowed.Now that I have read it, all that I can say is "Damn You Wesley Chu!"That's a sure-fire sign of a good book/series if you get angry with the author for leaving you wanting more. It looks like the third book is tentatively coming out at the end of the year, and that's not nearly soon enough!This book was just as much fun as the first one, though maybe not as funny. Once again where the book shines for me is the way Mr. Chu retcons history to fit the aliens in. Did you know that Global Warming is actually the fault of aliens? True story.Galieo: Host to an alien. He wasn't persecuted by the church for blasphemy. It was really because he was part of a different faction of aliens than those who controlled it. You get the idea.I think the best compliment I can give this book is to contrast it with the book I was listening to at the same time: Patriot Games. Tom Clancy is arguably the king of the Spy Thriller, and Jack Ryan is one of the best known of the genre. I found this book way more exciting and fun.My only real complaint here is the main villain is a bit too flat. He's a believable character, but he's so unlikable that I found his chapters sometimes frustrating to read. Thankfully though his story line was pretty interesting and Mr. Chu did a good job at making me wish for bad things to happen to him.Overall this book seems to do a good job distinguishing itself from a lot of other sci-fi books out there. Part Spy Thriller, part alien invasion story. Well written and good humor and dialogue. There is a lot to enjoy here and I recommend checking out this series.
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  • Paul
    May 20, 2014
    It has reached the point in the battle between the Quasing factions, the Prophus and the Genjix, the alien Quasing race, where the Prophus factions are on the back foot. There is a new leader of the Genjix, a brutal megalomaniac called Enzo, who has the sole aim of destroying the remaining Prophus.Roen, with his quasing, Tao, has got married to Jill, had a child and is not a fully trained agent. He is running his own missions, but has dropped out to go deep undercover. Some of his collegues are It has reached the point in the battle between the Quasing factions, the Prophus and the Genjix, the alien Quasing race, where the Prophus factions are on the back foot. There is a new leader of the Genjix, a brutal megalomaniac called Enzo, who has the sole aim of destroying the remaining Prophus.Roen, with his quasing, Tao, has got married to Jill, had a child and is not a fully trained agent. He is running his own missions, but has dropped out to go deep undercover. Some of his collegues are not happy about that, and as he tries to ingratiate himself again, not every one is please to see him. He is put on the trail of shipments going into China of prohibited goods.The Genjix have developed a new technology to allow them to exist without having to inhabit humans, and following a few failure, this is almost ready to be used. As the battles around the world increase in intensity and ferocity as the Prophus realize that the threat is much worse than they feared.The tension rises and rises as the battles reach their final climax in several locations around the world, from Washington DC to Taiwan the very existence of the Prophus is at stake.Chu has taken the excellent concepts from the first book and made them into a futuristic, fast paced thriller. The first part took awhile to get going, but he has managed to raise the pace and tension of the different threads in the book that all come together at the end with a dramatic conclusion. Good series so far, can’t wait until the next one!
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  • Kaleb
    May 3, 2014
    The Deaths of Tao is an excellent sequel to Wesley Chu's debut novel and does great job of avoiding the dreaded middle book syndrome that ails so many other sequels. This book was fast, fun, and on more than one occasion had me laughing out loud. And the ending of this book will surely leave readers aching to read the final book of the trilogy.
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  • Dara
    January 1, 2015
    God dammit, Wes Chu.I knew The Deaths of Tao ended a big cliffhanger but I though that would negate the punch of it. Boy, was I wrong. Can I have The Rebirths of Tao now?The Deaths of Tao picks up 3 years after the events of The Lives of Tao (spoilers for that book to follow). Jill is now a host, she and Roen got married, popped out a kid, and separated in that short time. Things for the Prophus side of the war have gone swiftly downhill. The Genjix are winning and the Prophus have to find a way God dammit, Wes Chu.I knew The Deaths of Tao ended a big cliffhanger but I though that would negate the punch of it. Boy, was I wrong. Can I have The Rebirths of Tao now?The Deaths of Tao picks up 3 years after the events of The Lives of Tao (spoilers for that book to follow). Jill is now a host, she and Roen got married, popped out a kid, and separated in that short time. Things for the Prophus side of the war have gone swiftly downhill. The Genjix are winning and the Prophus have to find a way to stop them.I'm not crazy about time jumps and I don't think it worked in story's favor here. One of my issues with The Lives of Taowas Roen's and Jill's relationship. There wasn't enough time devoted to it for me to be invested in it and it was more of the same here. A lot of events transpired off-page and since I didn't have any investment in the outcome, I really didn't care what happened either way. All I wanted was for Roen and Jill to shut up about it.I'm just going to go ahead and lay out my feelings about Jill. I had a lot of issues with her but it's mostly with how she was written (sorry if you're reading this, Mr. Chu! I think you're a swell guy and I still liked the book and can't wait for the next one!). Most of Jill's scenes felt cliche. She would go out for girly drinks and want to buy pretty sundresses and talk about Roen ALL THE TIME. I'd say 80% of her dialogue was devoted to Roen and it got to be overbearing. I wouldn't have minded if I had time to invest in her relationship with him but as I said above, that's not the case. Jill is a Prophus agent now. I can't see her as a girl who has pillow fights at sleep overs and "OMG we totes need a girls night out! OMG SANGRIA! WOOO." What I did like about Jill was when she was working on Capitol Hill. She felt realistic, smart, and competent during those scenes. I think Chu is growing as a writer and will get better at characterization but the whole thing just did not work for me at all.Now on to all the other great stuff that I loved! The plot itself was really interesting. I like seeing the perspective of the war from the losing side. The Prophus are rapidly running out of resources and have to find ways to cope with that. I also loved seeing more of the Genjix side of things. Enzo was a intriguing character because he's such a loose canon. I was never sure what he was going to do. Sure, he was a bastard but I liked that. I liked the setting. A good portion of the book took place in Taiwan and I'm a big fan of Southeast Asia. I liked Roen a bit more in this book. He's still funny and sharing barbs with Tao but he's more competent this time around and he's very proactive. The battle scenes were descriptive yet concise. I often find that my attention wanders during gunfights but not this time.The epigraphs did more to expand the Quasings' influence on humanity. There were short snippets from Tao, Baji, and Zoras. I love how Chu alters history here. He really makes the reader feel for the Quasing. We get to share in their experiences and their losses. It's probably my favorite aspect of the series (For real, I would read a whole book about Tao's time in Genghis Khan or Yol's time in Galileo).Despite my issues with Jill, I really enjoyed this book. The second half slowly escalates the tension and I'm still thinking about the cliffhanger. What does any of it mean for Rebirths?! I can't wait to find out!4 out of 5 stars.
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  • Tabitha (Pabkins)
    October 25, 2013
    I can firmly say that The Deaths of Tao outshines it’s predecessor. In The Lives of Tao, readers were treated to an alien spy somewhat thriller with quite a few humorous moments – but in The Deaths of Tao Chu manages to expound on the core concept of aliens having shaped human history and include so many other elements that just weren’t there in The Lives of Tao. Of course we still get all of the amazing humor, but truth be told, The Deaths of Toa was a deeper and more realized work of fiction.I I can firmly say that The Deaths of Tao outshines it’s predecessor. In The Lives of Tao, readers were treated to an alien spy somewhat thriller with quite a few humorous moments – but in The Deaths of Tao Chu manages to expound on the core concept of aliens having shaped human history and include so many other elements that just weren’t there in The Lives of Tao. Of course we still get all of the amazing humor, but truth be told, The Deaths of Toa was a deeper and more realized work of fiction.Instead of being told from one view point we get several. This doesn’t always work out in other books but here it gave me all of the dynamic and pieces of the pie that I really needed to get immersed in this story. We get the perspective of several Quasing, which I definitely found fascinating. There were moments I wanted to reach into the pages and face punch some of these high and mighty know it alls! Mostly, I could not get enough of the egotistical maniac, *cough psychopath cough* Enzo – hot diggity I tell you, he was a well written character you’d love to hate. Jill was stubborn, strong and, in my opinion a bit hypocritical but definitely a great character. Roen will always be in my mind a dufus but with a heart in the right place and his mind on food. At this point I have to mention – food! – I swear some of the moments in Deaths that had me chuckling dealt with food.“You know what I live about America? Your food. Now I know why you’re all so fat. You have the best food. It’s just too bad your tea is so awful.” -pg 85He sniffed the air as he passed by a particularly repugnant smelling stall.“What is that?”I believe the locals call it stinky tofu.“Name certainly fits. Smells like road kill.”It is supposed to be delicious. They say the stinkier it is, the better it tastes.“Then that tofu must taste like filet mignon drizzled with cocaine. I guess that’s the first thing up to bat. I still haven’t met a delicacy I couldn’t stomach.” -pg 123Something of extreme value that was superbly done, also happens to be my favorite element included in the book, and that was the short forwards at the front of each chapter. They served to tell the reader the background story of the Quasings, the alien race that crash landed on earth so many thousands of years ago. Because of these forwards I fully believe that The Deaths of Tao can be read without needing to read The Lives of Tao. Essentially, The Lives of Tao is Roen Tan’s origin story. While definitely a great addition to the series, seeing as it is the first book and all, it definitely won’t ruin things for readers if they skip right to The Deaths of Tao. while these two books manage to keep the same essence of voice from the writer and characters, Live and Deaths are so vastly different in the style they are told, the story they were telling and the depth to which they dig.I am not kidding when I say The Deaths of Tao has a lot going for it, not to mention a lot going on. With the different perspectives, the alien factions in conflict, and the political and historical elements – there was literally never a dull moment. Normally, I am not fond of books that are heavy on political or historical points but the politics didn’t confuse me and the bits of history thrown in were awesome ways of highlighting how an alien race really could have been manipulating us over the centuries. A scary but a cool thing to consider. Genre fans will definitely not want to miss The Deaths of Tao.Plus, free running? – so freaking cool – all I can say is I want to be a ninja!
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  • Zayne
    June 30, 2015
    Wow, what a cliffhanger! How could you do this to me, Chu??I loved the plot of this book. This is set 3 years after the Live of Tao. Roen is married to Jill (who is also a host) and they have a son named Cameron. The Prophus are struggling to win a losing war. They are low on resources, agents, and they're losing losing their influence on the world. I have to admit, I wasn't too excited about this book after reading a little bit of it. My favorite part of the first book was seeing Roen, a lazy f Wow, what a cliffhanger! How could you do this to me, Chu??I loved the plot of this book. This is set 3 years after the Live of Tao. Roen is married to Jill (who is also a host) and they have a son named Cameron. The Prophus are struggling to win a losing war. They are low on resources, agents, and they're losing losing their influence on the world. I have to admit, I wasn't too excited about this book after reading a little bit of it. My favorite part of the first book was seeing Roen, a lazy fatass, get whipped into shape. It was hilarious and actually pretty inspiring. With that gone, I felt something big was missing. But after reading a little more, I was sold.This book definitely felt different than the first one. While the first one was very light and full of laugh-out-loud humor, this one was more on the serious side. There were still funny moments between Roen and Tao, but nothing made me burst out laughing. This book was very tense, equipped with a little drama and lots of action. My favorite part of this book was seeing how the Quasing have influenced all of history, from Alexander the Great to Napoleon to the Civil War. It was all the Quasing. It's really fun seeing Wesley Chu twist history around. Now, every time I see a politician on TV, wonder if he's Prophus or Genjix. I would definitely read a book filled with short stories about the Quasings' lives and the people they have influenced throughout history. Hey Wesley Chu! *wink wink* I just got you a great idea for your next book.I have to say, though, I hate what Chu did at the end of this book. I could see it coming from a mile away but still....not cool, Chu. Not cool. I was so angry, I threw my book at the wall (which I hate doing. I'm really really careful with my books). It does make me want to pick up the next book immediately though. Awesome book. I greatly recommend it.
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  • Justin
    September 6, 2013
    In Lives of Tao, Roen Tan was an everyman. Overweight, shy around women, and lacking self confidence, Roen emerged as an agent of his destiny thanks to the gentle urging of the alien living inside him. The novel is essentially about Roen’s relationships to those around him: his alien, his human secret agent instructor, and a love interest he’s struggling to maintain amid his new reality. Essentially, Lives of Tao is a novel of characters in search of a plot, and it works like a charm.Deaths of T In Lives of Tao, Roen Tan was an everyman. Overweight, shy around women, and lacking self confidence, Roen emerged as an agent of his destiny thanks to the gentle urging of the alien living inside him. The novel is essentially about Roen’s relationships to those around him: his alien, his human secret agent instructor, and a love interest he’s struggling to maintain amid his new reality. Essentially, Lives of Tao is a novel of characters in search of a plot, and it works like a charm.Deaths of Tao is something else. Roen is no longer lacking self confidence. He’s fit and powerful–all the things we hoped he would become in the first novel. The result is a sequel that lacks the camaraderie of its predecessor. The sense that Roen was like me, just a guy trying to make it through, is no longer prevalent. Additionally, Chu distances himself from Roen by giving Jill, Roen’s love interest in the first novel, a larger role with her own alien ball and chain. RHMT, as a Mel Brooks film, possesses cues the consumer expects. Deaths of Tao challenges that paradigm. It is a novel of plot in search of characters.The story picks up some years after Lives of Tao. Alien factions that inhabit the world, the Genjix and the Prophus, are escalating their war and our erstwhile pair are right in the middle of it. Jill and Roen have gotten married, had a child, separated, and left their child in the care of Jill’s parents while they gallivant across the world to save humanity. There’s a scene about halfway through the novel when Roen stops in to see his son on the way to a mission. It’s a brief reminder of the magic in Lives of Tao, before much of the emotional rigmarole left in the rear view mirror. We experience some the fallout, but it’s ancillary to what amounts to a full-blown world threatening thriller with a healthy dose of politics thrown in the mix.As for the politics, well, it’s a mixed bag. Having worked ten years in the U.S. Congress, I find myself with a unique perspective on the mechanisms. In Deaths of Tao Jill is a Senate staffer, using her position to manipulate appropriations in opposition to the Genjix agenda. To varying degrees Chu does it right, lacking only the rather specialized experience to provide nuance. Consider this a standing offer to anyone who writes politics, particularly American politics, I’ll read your manuscript. It doesn’t take much to make it code authentic and it’ll do wonders for the tiny segment of the world that will notice your hiccups.What the politics do very well is serve the plot, a theme reinforced throughout this review. Chu could have continued the kinds of interactions that made his first book special, but he wanted to go another direction by design. He challenged himself to condense huge ideas into a digestible bite. Sacrifices are made to accomplish it, but the end result is a thrilling novel that without quirky aliens would sit triumphantly in Ian Fleming or Vince Flynn’s wheelhouse.As I finish this discussion of Deaths of Tao I realize there’s not the kind of effusive joy that followed my reading of Chu’s debut. It may come across as disappointment. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is a fundamentally different kind of novel, one focused on story telling, not low hanging nerd-makes-good fruit that so appeals to genre readers. For all its charm Lives of Tao was not nearly as well constructed as its sequel, nor as well written. Chu embraced the challenge of writing a female point of view and does it exceptionally well. Simply put, Wesley Chu leveled up as a writer. If his third book can capture the magic of the first with the technical execution of the second, he’ll be among the elite.http://www.staffersbookreview.com/201...
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  • Mark Guthrie
    September 19, 2013
    Wesley Chu.You bastard.You magnificent bastard.You hooked me in yet again. Downloaded the book to the Kindle and had to finish it the same sitting (And, as I had some Modelo to help with the read, became quite familiar with Roen's pregnancy claim.). The snark is still there (and even ramped up a notch or two), the slapping scene on board the freighter had me laughing so hard I just about woke the entire house and the depth added to the characters was top shelf.The book is a great bridge to the n Wesley Chu.You bastard.You magnificent bastard.You hooked me in yet again. Downloaded the book to the Kindle and had to finish it the same sitting (And, as I had some Modelo to help with the read, became quite familiar with Roen's pregnancy claim.). The snark is still there (and even ramped up a notch or two), the slapping scene on board the freighter had me laughing so hard I just about woke the entire house and the depth added to the characters was top shelf.The book is a great bridge to the next installment (After finishing it I couldn't help thinking back to "The Empire Strikes Back" in terms of wondering where the hell it will go next), and I would think you have a wide open canvas available to paint the next picture.Thank you for sharing Tao and Roen's story with us again.
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  • Scott (GrilledCheeseSamurai)
    August 25, 2013
    You know what Wesley Chu does really well? Endings. The climax to Lives of Tao was an action packed romp for pages and pages. This second book is no different. The Deaths of Tao clips along at a good pace...stuff happens...its all a heck of a lot of fun...and suddenly there I am waist deep in the mother of all climaxes screaming at my book like I'm some kind of a lunatic.Thanks for that, Chu. I'ma make a mental note to make sure that the next book of yours I read I make sure that I am not in a p You know what Wesley Chu does really well? Endings. The climax to Lives of Tao was an action packed romp for pages and pages. This second book is no different. The Deaths of Tao clips along at a good pace...stuff happens...its all a heck of a lot of fun...and suddenly there I am waist deep in the mother of all climaxes screaming at my book like I'm some kind of a lunatic.Thanks for that, Chu. I'ma make a mental note to make sure that the next book of yours I read I make sure that I am not in a public place when I hit the ending.Still, its more than just the endings of these books that make them worthwhile. The characters are living breathing people that I can relate with. Well...minus the fact that they have living, breathing, alien hosts inside of them. What I mean to say is, I care about the folks that Wesley Chu has introduced me to. I like them...others...the bad guys...I hate them just as equally. I have become invested in their lives, I soar with them when they excel and I am defeated alongside of them when they fail.The Deaths Of Tao, at least for me, is in a category that I don't really have a description for. Its not urban fantasy, its not quite Sci-fi, but rather, its a mish-mash of the two of them.Urban Fiction?I don't know. Call it what you will...either way its pretty freaking awesome!Deaths Of Tao continues on a few years after the first one. We follow Roen and Tao and the battle between the Prophous and the Genjix. Roen is no longer a fat, pizza eating, lazy S.O.B. Instead, he's a bona fide, ass kicking, secret agent running around the world with an alien in his tummy.He's still a jack ass though, and throughout this second volume he is continually trying to come to terms with what he has done to his family and to his co-workers. The war of the Quasing's has taken its toll on him and there is a definite feeling of desperateness going on with him.Tons of action, touching interactions, great villains, wonderful personal dilemmas...the author has taken everything from his first published book and kicked it up about ten notches for this second one. This is a series most certainly worth the time. I would say that I hope everyone else is enjoying it as much as I do - but from a simple glance at the reviews I can see that's already the case!Can't wait for the next book!
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  • Brad
    May 21, 2015
    I read this book and its predecessor in preparation for the Campbell Award for this year, but despite that, I'm happy to have come out the other side.It has a much different feel than the previous novel, and I'm not relying on a couple of years passing or a jaded outlook from our previous newbie to inform me of the tone. The war has gone poorly, and the last half of the novel proves it, with setback after setback driving our many heroes into unthinkable positions of forced valor and desperate me I read this book and its predecessor in preparation for the Campbell Award for this year, but despite that, I'm happy to have come out the other side.It has a much different feel than the previous novel, and I'm not relying on a couple of years passing or a jaded outlook from our previous newbie to inform me of the tone. The war has gone poorly, and the last half of the novel proves it, with setback after setback driving our many heroes into unthinkable positions of forced valor and desperate measures.The way it all worked out forces me to judge the novel differently between the three act structure. The first was depressing. I'm not going to sidestep this issue. I didn't like it so much. It took way too much time to build up, and each expected payoff turned into a worthless gesture that left me flat.That being said, and putting aside the first act, I was extremely pleased to pass that behind me and have glorious action and ramped-up consequences and investments, bringing possible and even likely genocide of our favorite aliens to the table. I got into the middle action like a duck to water and enjoyed all of the twists and turns.But the real joy to this novel was the third act, when everything turns to hell, and like a proper Empire Strikes Back, only a few heroes are left to tell the tale as they scamper about and nibble at their singed tails. I didn't quite expect to see what I did see, and that's high praise. I'm fully invested in reading the third novel. The payout of this book's end was really good. I have no regrets.So the trick to reading this one is to forget the mud in the beginning and have faith in the rest of the novel. It eventually became a real page-turner, giving us momentum that all the crap in the beginning would eventually turn out all right. Mind you, though, that things do not turn out right, in proper middle-book fashion. This isn't the light-hearted sci-fi of the first novel. I'd like to say that the tone is developing into something deeper and darker, but that isn't entirely true. It's turning into the dark stakes that we were originally promised in the first novel. All I can really do is thank the author for eventually delivering on his promise.That, and buy all his books, of course.
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  • Kdawg91
    October 12, 2013
    This is a great book, a crackling tale that easily sidesteps the "second book slump" in this kick butt series about two alien factions and their influence in the secret history of the world.I care about the characters, the dialogue is terrific, and the action is intense and keeps you drawn in the whole time.I told Mr. Chu on facebook that these books should be a television show (hello? T.V. people? hook him up) and he agreed with me! (probably thought I was crazy but I digress)Thank you to Angry This is a great book, a crackling tale that easily sidesteps the "second book slump" in this kick butt series about two alien factions and their influence in the secret history of the world.I care about the characters, the dialogue is terrific, and the action is intense and keeps you drawn in the whole time.I told Mr. Chu on facebook that these books should be a television show (hello? T.V. people? hook him up) and he agreed with me! (probably thought I was crazy but I digress)Thank you to Angry Robot for the ARC and PEOPLE!! go read these series!! like now and stuff.
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  • Scott
    February 28, 2015
    Oh Mr. Chu, why?! What a great book. It has everything I loved from the first: quick pacing, humor, tons of action and an interesting premise and plot. Add in political maneuvering and some revenge and you have one of the better second books in a series I have had the pleasure of reading. I don't need to tell you about the plot, if you read and liked the first you will enjoy this one. It starts off a little slow but that doesn't last very long; you are quickly in the deep end with Roen, Tao, Jil Oh Mr. Chu, why?! What a great book. It has everything I loved from the first: quick pacing, humor, tons of action and an interesting premise and plot. Add in political maneuvering and some revenge and you have one of the better second books in a series I have had the pleasure of reading. I don't need to tell you about the plot, if you read and liked the first you will enjoy this one. It starts off a little slow but that doesn't last very long; you are quickly in the deep end with Roen, Tao, Jill and some other extremely interesting characters! Do yourself a favor, read this series!
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  • Suzanne
    April 29, 2015
    Wow...I'm pretty glad I found this series later than some because book 3 is out - because .... geez what an ending! I really liked this book - the blurbs sounded kind of silly, but it really isn't a silly series at all (although it can be funny). I have grown very attached to some of the characters, and I absolutely hate others. I like the idea that while aliens inhabit hosts, they do not control them - and it certainly leads to some interesting interactions. I can't wait to see what happens nex Wow...I'm pretty glad I found this series later than some because book 3 is out - because .... geez what an ending! I really liked this book - the blurbs sounded kind of silly, but it really isn't a silly series at all (although it can be funny). I have grown very attached to some of the characters, and I absolutely hate others. I like the idea that while aliens inhabit hosts, they do not control them - and it certainly leads to some interesting interactions. I can't wait to see what happens next.
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  • Lisa
    October 23, 2013
    [Review originally posted here: overtheeffingrainbow.blogspot.co.uk/2...]I think it's fair to say that this book, the second in Chu's Tao series, had a lot to live up to after his debut, The Lives Of Tao. Well, first of all it's certainly done that. Secondly, however, I was pleasantly surprised by the ways in which it not only lived up to it, but improved upon it. Friendly warning - there will be at least mild spoilers for the first book/basic plot direction in the second, below...If The Lives O [Review originally posted here: overtheeffingrainbow.blogspot.co.uk/2...]I think it's fair to say that this book, the second in Chu's Tao series, had a lot to live up to after his debut, The Lives Of Tao. Well, first of all it's certainly done that. Secondly, however, I was pleasantly surprised by the ways in which it not only lived up to it, but improved upon it. Friendly warning - there will be at least mild spoilers for the first book/basic plot direction in the second, below...If The Lives Of Tao was 'The Terminator' - action-packed and thoroughly entertaining, if carrying some puppy fat that needed losing (looking at you, Roen), then The Deaths Of Tao is Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Goodbye, puppy fat. Hello, leaner and much meaner killing machine. Seriously.When we left Roen and Jill, the two protagonists from the first novel, they were only just venturing into what seemed to be a promising romance, after being thrown together by the Prophus/Genjix war. When we return to them, years have passed, they've gotten married and been separated, and they have a son. Roen has walked away from the Prophus organisation to fight his own battles, Jill is mired in the political side of it all, and their son lives with Jill's parents - who are, it seems, unaware of everything that's really going on behind the scenes.So, no happily ever after then. Fair enough. With this kind of a war going on, I don't imagine white picket fences are much of a defense...Still, it surprised me a little to see such a significant time gap put between the two books. If I'm being completely honest, at first it threw me a little - but the more it progressed, the more I approved. This is real life, even if there's an utterly fantastic-sounding alien war going on for control of Earth and its resources. These things can't just fall by the wayside, after all. Roen and Jill were always going to have problems with that kind of scenario going on around them, and their troubled relationship added an excellent complication. While Roen walks away and tries to do things his (and Tao's) own way, basically thumbing his nose at the Prophus chain of command and the idea of teamwork after what seems to have been so many missions gone wrong, Jill is well ensconced in that chain, and taking her orders far better than her husband. Roen is listening more to his Prophus companion than his wife, and so of course they've had issues.More than being about the human protagonists, however, this is a story about the relationships between human and Prophus. If Roen is driven to his own course regarding the Genjix, then Tao is doubly so, and it's this fact that helps to drive such a wedge between Roen and Jill, not to mention Tao and his fellow Prophus. The shades of grey in all of these issues are what make the story so interesting. Decisions and mistakes are made by everyone, but beyond that, everyone's making their own choices at the same time. It's all so very dramatic. I love it.Speaking of the Genjix... that Terminator comparison I made before is apt on so many levels here. None more so, perhaps, than when describing the Genjix threat. We get to see much more of their organisational structure, and in Enzo, the main Genjix antagonist here, we've got a truly unnervingly dangerous individual in control of a lot of the Genjix operations. Born and raised in their 'Hatchery', Enzo is purebred for nothing short of leading their armies in this war - and he knows it. Where he has frightening levels of capability and training, Enzo has arrogance to match, and of course, before the end this complicates just about everything...The race to the finale here was even more nail-biting and tightly written than Chu's previous effort, and I have to tip my hat to him. Winning readers over is one thing, but keeping them coming back for more is quite another, and in my book he's done it spectacularly well. I suspect not everyone might agree; there's enough of an about-face with this book that it may possibly throw some readers more than it did me at first, but such things are inevitable no matter who's writing what. I can only speak for me, and Me will be waiting eagerly for the next book in this series....That sounded a bit Cookie Monster, didn't it. And now I've combined the Cookie Monster with a Terminator analogy in a book review. Is that a first?Anyway! 5 very well deserved stars to this one. Keep it coming, Wesley. I loved it. And now I'm off to find cookies.
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  • Paul
    February 14, 2017
    Not the same humour as book 1 but a great action packed story with lots of brilliant twists and turns.Roen is a completely transformed character in many ways and the history of the world is well developed in the book.BAsically a highly imaginative scifi very well written
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  • Alex Ristea
    October 28, 2013
    I hear Wesley Chu is now a full-time writer, which I think is incredible news because it means it's yet another author that we've caught young and can follow their careers for a long, long time.The Deaths of Tao is in every way an improvement over its predecessor.It's wittier and funnier. It's paced better. It hits harder emotionally. Some years have passed since the events in The Lives of Tao and our relationship with Roen and the Quasing has deepened. The snippets at the beginning of each chap I hear Wesley Chu is now a full-time writer, which I think is incredible news because it means it's yet another author that we've caught young and can follow their careers for a long, long time.The Deaths of Tao is in every way an improvement over its predecessor.It's wittier and funnier. It's paced better. It hits harder emotionally. Some years have passed since the events in The Lives of Tao and our relationship with Roen and the Quasing has deepened. The snippets at the beginning of each chapter give you insight into the history of the Prophus and the Genjix, and let me tell you that the conflict grows exponentially to something you wouldn't have expected.You start to see both sides of the story and become invested into an intrigue that has moved to a global stage.Overall, more thrilling action scenes, but now with a heavy touch of politics that makes this a book worth your time.AND OH MAN THAT ENDING. Tao #3 can't get here soon enough.
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  • Robyn
    June 1, 2015
    More non-stop action, but with a depressing edge (realistic! Just depressing for our beloved characters). Hateful villains, great heroes. I love how plausible the Genjix conspiracy is.
  • Andy
    July 7, 2014
    Wesley Chu! Noooooooooooo! How could you leave us hanging like that my good fellow??!!
  • Abhinav
    April 2, 2013
    You can read the full review over at The Founding Fields:http://thefoundingfields.com/2014/02/...Shadowhawk takes a look at the sequel to Wesley Chu’s stellar 2013 debut from Angry Robot.“A great follow-up to a great book with a killer emotional ending.” ~Shadowhawk, The Founding FieldsBy all accounts it has been a crazy few months of reading and writing and reviewing and viewing movies and television and what not. Ever since I started blogging daily over at my personal blog, things have been ve You can read the full review over at The Founding Fields:http://thefoundingfields.com/2014/02/...Shadowhawk takes a look at the sequel to Wesley Chu’s stellar 2013 debut from Angry Robot.“A great follow-up to a great book with a killer emotional ending.” ~Shadowhawk, The Founding FieldsBy all accounts it has been a crazy few months of reading and writing and reviewing and viewing movies and television and what not. Ever since I started blogging daily over at my personal blog, things have been very fast-paced on all fronts and since I’ve begun investing more time in comics, reviewing novels has taken a bit of a back-seat. But, I’m hoping to get some balance back to things, so here’s my, admittedly, fourth book review of the new year!Last year’s The Lives of Tao was a really fun read. Wes wrote a great story with some great characters and he really pulled off what seemed, at first, to be a tough plot. And it was great that people responded to it so much so that Angry Robot pushed up the release date for the sequel, which was just fantastic. I mean, how often does that happen? Very, very rare, if at all! I didn’t get a chance to read the sequel before its release date, but I did read it about a month and a half later, in December, and I really liked it. In many ways, The Deaths of Tao is a better novel than its predecessor, although it does make some of the same mistakes.The best thing about Deaths is that it gives the spotlight to each of its three primary characters. We have Roen Tan of course, and his wife Jill who is now a Prophus agent, and we have the antagonist Enzo who is the new host for Tao’s nemesis Zoras. The entire story this time around is a three-way split between them and revolves around their successes and failures. With everything that happened in the climax of Lives, things have changed significantly for the Prophus. They got their victories and things were looking up for them, but recently the Genjix have resurrected themselves from their lows and have begun their ascension to dominance over global politics, pushing the Prophus back at every step. And these three characters are right at the center of everything. There is a huge change in status quo for the characters at the end of the novel, on both a professional and personal level, and how that comes about is the big selling point of the novel for me.The story this time begins several years after the end of Lives. By now, Roen and Jill have married and they have a young son. Once Prophus’ top agent, Roen is now on the outskirts, pretty much a rogue now. Jill and her Quasing Baji now fulfill a vital role for the organisation and while Baji still laments the loss of Sonya, she has come to accept her new host and has worked with her to the benefit of both. The Genjix have instituted a genetic breeding program to create the perfect host vessels, obedient to them in all ways and physically and mentally capable of all that the Genjix require. Enzo is one such Adonis vessel and is the new host for Zoras who is now in a new phase of his life within the Genjix, vying for power against the other council members and holding his own. With the Genjix’s star in ascendance however, things are pretty bad for Roen, Jill, Tao, Baji and all the other Prophus out there.Personally, I loved the time-jump. I would have preferred to have seen the story pick up from right where it left off in Lives. But I don’t mind Wes’ chosen approach at all. It adds a whole another layer of nuance to everything and it allows him to tell a really interesting story about family responsibilities and duties, whether we talk about something as small as two parents and their child, or the families that the Prophus and Genjix are, even though they don’t call themselves families in quite the same way, if at all. The estranged relationship between Roen and Jill really highlights this theme and the road that the two of them walk in order to heal their wounds is a very long and dark journey.I loved Roen in the first book, and in this book, I admire and respect the man, finally. This is a much different character. He is more competent, for one. And badass, seriously. But he is still flawed, and Wes does a good job of exploring how and why that is. This in turn feeds into Tao’s own characterisation and it is every bit as awesome a story as Roen’s is. After living on the outskirts for so long, Roen is called back into the fold by the Prophus command, and this time we really do see how much he has changed, in pretty much all respects. From first books to second books, characters should really grow and become more than they used to be. This is where Jill and Roen really excel and I loved every moment of it.
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  • Kat Hooper
    June 15, 2014
    Originally posted at Fantasy Literature: http://www.fantasyliterature.com/revi...The Deaths of Tao is the second book in Wesley Chu’s TAO series. In the first book, The Lives of Tao, we met Roen Tan, an overweight lazy guy who, because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, was possessed by an alien named Tao. There are two factions of aliens on Earth — the Prophus and the Genjix. They crash-landed on our planet thousands of years ago and they’re trying to get back to their own planet. The Originally posted at Fantasy Literature: http://www.fantasyliterature.com/revi...The Deaths of Tao is the second book in Wesley Chu’s TAO series. In the first book, The Lives of Tao, we met Roen Tan, an overweight lazy guy who, because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, was possessed by an alien named Tao. There are two factions of aliens on Earth — the Prophus and the Genjix. They crash-landed on our planet thousands of years ago and they’re trying to get back to their own planet. They exist only as spirits and must inhabit human bodies if they want to get anything done.Both the Prophus and the Genjix have been guiding humanity’s technological and cultural development for millennia — all with the goal of eventually developing spacecraft to take them back to their planet — but the two factions have different methodologies. Tao is one of the Prophus, the nice aliens who care about what happens to their human hosts and are trying to build up a benevolent human civilization. The Genjix, in contrast, have a Machiavellian approach — they just want to get off Earth as fast as possible and are willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen. They’re responsible for war, dirty politics, global warming, and other evils.The Deaths of Tao begins a few years after the events of The Lives of Tao. Roen has been traveling all over the world, basically as a spy, trying to figure out what dastardly deeds the Genjix are up to. Something big is about to happen and he hopes to discover what it is so the Prophus can stop it. All of the spying has taken a toll on his marriage. He and Jill, who was inhabited by a Prophus alien at the end of The Lives of Tao, have separated and their son Cameron lives with Jill’s parents because Jill works in Washington D.C. as a congressional aide, trying to block any plans the Genjix try to get through the U.S. congress. Roen laments his broken marriage and orphaned son, but if the Genjix aren’t stopped, the entire human race is in danger. When Roen discovers what the Genjix are doing, he leads a team to try to foil their plans while Jill tries to obstruct their efforts by working the political side.The plot advances significantly and there are rooftop chases, gun fights, grenades, hand to hand combat, torture, and plenty of other exciting action in The Deaths of Tao. It would make a fun movie. There were more than a few times when I thought characters did really dumb things, or when I thought some event was implausible or inconsistent, or when characters were wisecracking when screaming seemed more appropriate. It’s clear that Wesley Chu’s goal is to entertain us in superhero fashion. He’s not worried about being completely realistic, so there’s a little bit of plot sloppiness that you’ll need to be willing to overlook. Such as when a bullet grazes Jill’s thigh and she ties it off with a handkerchief and goes for margaritas. Or when Roen, an IT technician and computer geek, hides the earth-crushing information stored on his computer with a silly low-security password.More problematic for me was that this story was told from multiple perspectives — including Jill and the aliens on both sides — and all those other voices are not done as well as Roen’s is. Roen’s transition from a slob to a successful secret agent in The Lives of Tao was humorous and fun. Jill’s meetings with U.S. senators and phone calls to her worried parents are not. Jill does some training with a handsome male agent in this book, but we’ve seen all that before and she’s just not as appealing as Roen is. Also, because this story starts after Roen and Jill have had a son and are broken up, I felt like I missed a lot of potentially interesting material, some of which probably would have made me understand and care more about Jill and Cameron.Readers who are most interested in the war between the alien sects will probably be pleased with The Deaths of Tao — that part of the plot moves rapidly and there are significant occurrences and a major cliffhanger at the end. Readers who loved The Lives of Tao mainly for its humor, tone, premise, the fun of watching Roen develop, and the gradual understanding of the alien presence on Earth, may be slightly disappointed in The Deaths of Tao. Chu continues to give us plenty of examples of how the aliens have influenced human history, but now that the premise is no longer novel, these details are just not as cool as they were in the first book.I continue to listen to Audible Studio’s version of the TAO series which is nicely narrated by Mikael Naramore.
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  • Matt Gilliard
    November 5, 2013
    I always approach sophomore novels with a certain amount of trepidation. Things like middle book syndrome, sophomore slump,and rushed to market always seem to come to mind. The more I liked the debut the more hesitant I am to crack the cover on their second effort. And there's no doubt how I felt about Chu's breakout success The Lives of Tao, it's currently on my list of the best books I've read this year. So it goes without saying that I was worried that Chu may not be able to catch lightning i I always approach sophomore novels with a certain amount of trepidation. Things like middle book syndrome, sophomore slump,and rushed to market always seem to come to mind. The more I liked the debut the more hesitant I am to crack the cover on their second effort. And there's no doubt how I felt about Chu's breakout success The Lives of Tao, it's currently on my list of the best books I've read this year. So it goes without saying that I was worried that Chu may not be able to catch lightning in a bottle the second time around. Due to some gutsy writing choices, I was in for quite the roller coaster ride as my expectations were mowed down like red-shirted extras in the opening chapters but Chu manages to sell a story that while standing in the shadow of its predecessor manages to shine on its own, very different merits.When we last left fledgling secret agent and alien host Roen Tan, he'd just managed to survive a harrowing conflict with the Genjix, that not only cost him a dear friend in Sonya but left his love interest Jill the new host for Sonya's Quasling Baji. The general structure and tone of the second novel could easily follow the successful formula, with Jill's transformation and adapting to Baji providing the same coming of age angle if not the buddy cop banter. And following the formula has certainly made more than a few careers, but Chu doesn't even appear to consider it.The Deaths of Tao is set five years after the end of the first volume, leaving any notions of watching Jill go through a gender swapped version of Roen's experiences dead on arrival. Roen and Jill are married, but estranged and neither has custody of their young son. The Prophus are losing ground and the Genjix seem on the verge of something game changing. Jill works as an agent on Capitol Hill, trying to slow the decline of the Prophus though political channels, while Roen has gone rogue at Tao's urging leaving Jill and their son Cameron behind. And Jill is more than just a little pissed.So obviously this is not the life we'd had planned out for our slacker-turned spy hero Roen. Gone is the wise ass screw up we grew to love, he's angry, bitter and alone and now an rogue agent with a checkered reputation. If The Lives of Tao was a comedy in a thriller's clothes, then the sequel is the opposite. This story is firmly set in thriller territory full of clandestine military operation, world ending technology, underground silos, and political maneuvering. The days of the training montages and embarrassingly earnest failures are long gone. The stakes are dire, the relationships are strained, and the weight can be seen in all of the characters.I'll tell the truth, I really wanted to hate it.But Chu pulls the new direction off so well, showing a more subdued version of the banter than enthralled readers before, but turning up the gas in his action sequences. The characters are pitch perfect as expected, Roen and Tao are a darker more brooding pair this time around but the ghost of their former rapid fire banter is easy to see beneath the gloom and angst. Jill is given much more screen time this time around, and is a standout. She's a Prophus agent in her own right, but manages to never be a carbon copy of Roen but isn't a shrinking violet either. Chus also never uses her to directly influence Roen's actions in the narrative, which is a nice change of pace.Chu also introduces us to the antagonist, the newly inhabited Enzo, early on, and manages to give us an antagonist that we can easily hate, without reducing him to a caricature even as he hurtles down his ego-maniacal path to glory. I found it interesting that Chu chooses to make a human the real villain of the piece, as Enzo time and time again refuses to heed the direction of his Quasing. It's a deft touch, the machinations and motivations of a power mad upstart are far easier to parse than those of a centuries old alien from a faraway star.The Deaths of Tao ends with a high stakes conflict taking place in three separate locales and manages not to short change any of the plot lines or characters in the hail of bullets, explosions, and unexpected plot twists. While not all fans of The Lives of Tao will be happy with the change of the status quo at both ends of this novel, Wesley Chu has proven his versatility with his sophomore effort and all his gambling appears to have paid off. His status as a rising star in the genre world hasn't dimmed a Watt.
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  • Beezlebug (Rob)
    August 9, 2013
    Full disclosure I received an electronic copy of this book to review from NetGalley. First off let me say how nice it is when a book in a series is released so quickly after the one before it. I finished The Lives of Tao back in July so it made it much easier to pick up The Deaths of Tao with most of the plot still fresh in my mind. Let’s hope this doesn’t mean a longer span before the next one is released.The Deaths of Tao picks up about 4 years after the events in Lives. Roen and Jill are marr Full disclosure I received an electronic copy of this book to review from NetGalley. First off let me say how nice it is when a book in a series is released so quickly after the one before it. I finished The Lives of Tao back in July so it made it much easier to pick up The Deaths of Tao with most of the plot still fresh in my mind. Let’s hope this doesn’t mean a longer span before the next one is released.The Deaths of Tao picks up about 4 years after the events in Lives. Roen and Jill are married, have had a child together but now are separated with their young son living with Jill’s parents. Roen is now a fully trained agent who is much more comfortable with his relationship/partnership with Tao and has gone “rogue” from the Prophus to investigate some suspicious Genjix activities. Jill by contrast has taken a different route and works directly with a US Senator to influence pro-Prophus initiatives within the government. This dynamic is a direct reversal of roles from the first book as now Roen/Tao is the veteran agent and Jill/Baji has to take on additional training in order to survive. In some ways this carried a feeling of “been there done that” as it felt like the author was covering the same ground again. Especially given that Jill receives instruction from Marco, a handsome veteran agent, and is attracted to him much like we saw when Roen was receiving instructions from Sonya.In addition to Roen and Jill, the focus of the book also covers a new Genjix adversary that is the direct result of a breeding and training program to create the perfect host. There is some decent character development here so I was glad this didn’t turn into a scenario where the author introduces a 2-dimensional character and then throws them away at the end of the book. With that said though in some ways this villain was the stereotypical villain in that he was young and his inexperience and drive for perfection are his greatest weakness.The only real issue I think I had with the book and also what prevented me from rating it higher was the pacing. The character’s storylines were focused on a particular path and didn’t vary into any subplots or anything else. In other words if a character’s storyline was to get from point A to point B the whole book was focused just on that piece. However, I think for many people this will easily be a 4 star book if they enjoyed the first one. You’ll want to pay very close attention to the ending though. It introduces a huge game changer for the characters and the world at large but I think you could easily miss a key point regarding Roen. That’s all I’ll say without giving away spoilers.One last note, why is it every time an author covers a “reincarnation” type scenario the individual had to be someone of great importance in the past? It reminds me of a joke I heard a comedian make once that “When you talk about reincarnation everyone is always Abraham Lincoln or Julius Caesar. No one is ever John the stable boy who was run down in the street by a manure cart.” The Tao series follows that same practice with every Prophus/Genjix having been a person of great importance in the past. I can understand from an author’s perspective that it makes for a fun writing experience but it also gets a little old how everyone played some critical role in historical events.
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  • Sunil
    April 26, 2014
    The Lives of Tao established the status quo, presenting a world where humanity lies in the middle of an alien civil war, two factions vying for power for thousands of years. The Deaths of Tao is where shit gets real.Three years have passed since the last book, and things aren't going so well for the Prophus. They're continuing to lose ground to the Genjix, who have secret, dastardly plans. Roen and Tao have been investigating, but they're pooh-poohed as conspiracy theorists. In between books, The Lives of Tao established the status quo, presenting a world where humanity lies in the middle of an alien civil war, two factions vying for power for thousands of years. The Deaths of Tao is where shit gets real.Three years have passed since the last book, and things aren't going so well for the Prophus. They're continuing to lose ground to the Genjix, who have secret, dastardly plans. Roen and Tao have been investigating, but they're pooh-poohed as conspiracy theorists. In between books, Jill has become practically a different character, and a much cooler one with far more agency, as she's now a full-fledged protagonist rather than a love interest. As before, we do get a Genjix antagonist to follow, and he's also a more interesting (if more infuriating) character than the villain of the last book.The first book was an introduction styled as a self-improvement narrative. This book is all-out war, full of geopolitical maneuvering and military operations. The battles are deadlier, the beatdowns are bloodier, and the stakes are all-around much higher. As if the fate of humanity weren't enough, we learn on the very first page that Roen and Jill aren't quite the happy couple we expected them to be based on the end of the last book, so their relationship is put to the test as they both engage in missions to support the Prophus.What's fascinating about these books is the way Wesley Chu reenvisions the entire history of humanity, imagining key points in history and key figures (almost always men) who influenced the course of events as part of the Conflict Doctrine. He brings up the Holy Roman Empire, an example of a successful, stable society...that was seen as stagnant by the Quasing, unable to grow and evolve without conflict. It makes you look at how we have progressed as a people and question whether the Quasing are right or not. Is this how we've become who we are? Is there a better way? I appreciated that Chu gave several examples where the human, not the Quasing, still had the real impact on history, though the aliens clearly guided us in a specific direction. But sometimes the human goes rogue: no matter what a Quasing tells a human to do, the human still makes the choice to do it, so perhaps all these historical figures have the responsibility we believe them to have after all. I really enjoy the relationships between the hosts and the Quasing; no two are alike. The dynamics are different in each person.As this is the second book in a trilogy, it is time for everything to go wrong for Our Heroes, and boy, does it ever. Chu went some places I did expect him to go and some I did not, but I'm very interested in the thrilling conclusion. While the first book put a human face on an epic story, this book shines a light on the global scope, and it makes you feel the impact of every victory and every defeat and what they mean for the future of humanity itself.
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  • MadProfessah
    May 21, 2015
    Official Review: http://buckmire.blogspot.com/2015/06/...The Deaths of Tao continues the story several years after the events of the first book.(view spoiler)[Roen has separated from his wife Jill (one of the girls he was lusting after in The Lives of Tao) and now they have a 5-year-old kid named Cameron who lives with Jill's parents in a suburb of San Diego while Jill (along with her Quasing Baji) tries to implement the Prophus agenda as the chief of staff to a United States Senator in Washingt Official Review: http://buckmire.blogspot.com/2015/06/...The Deaths of Tao continues the story several years after the events of the first book.(view spoiler)[Roen has separated from his wife Jill (one of the girls he was lusting after in The Lives of Tao) and now they have a 5-year-old kid named Cameron who lives with Jill's parents in a suburb of San Diego while Jill (along with her Quasing Baji) tries to implement the Prophus agenda as the chief of staff to a United States Senator in Washington, D.C. However, Roen is not only persona non grata with Jill but also with the Prophus hierarchy overall. In the intervening years since the events of The Lives of Tao the war has not gone well for the Prophus side, and they are not happy that Roen took matters into his own hands and went rogue in trying to suss out exactly what is the evil end game of the Genjix. The second book in the Tao series is a more adult, complicated work; this can be seen in the expanded list of important characters: the Genjix human host named Enzo, who has been bred and trained to be the perfect human vessel for Zoras, one of the oldest and most respected Quasings; Jill and her Prophus Quasing Baji; and Jill's bodyguard Marco. In addition, the second book resonated more strongly with me because the stakes involved are so much higher. In the first book, the primary tension was about discovering whether our protagonist (Roen) would succeed or not. In the second book, there are multiple protagonists with competing plans and in addition to discovering which team (Enzo and the Genjix or Roen/Jill and the Prophus) will succeed because the fate of the Earth and humanity depends on the result. The action is ratcheted up to a fever pitch while the body count goes up and up so when we get to the end I was literally both rushing to turn the page but also afraid of what would be revealed about the fates of my favorite characters. And that, in a nutshell, demonstrates just one of the many ways The Deaths of Tao effectively engages the reader and makes this a book you will be happy that your read. (hide spoiler)]Title: The Deaths of Tao.Author: Wesley Chu.Paperback: 464 pages.Publisher: Angry Robot.Date Published: October 29, 2013.Date Read: May 30, 2015.OVERALL GRADE: A/A- (3.83/4.0).PLOT: A-.IMAGERY: A-.IMPACT: A+.WRITING: A-.
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