The Deaths of Tao by Wesley Chu
|Book Name:||The Deaths of Tao|
|Formatt:||Paperback / eBook|
|Release Date:||October 29, 2013 (US) November 7, 2013 (UK)|
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…
The Lives of Tao was one of the Fantasy-Faction Sci-Fi Book Club reads, and was extremely well received by the book club. We loved the relationship and the banter between Roen and Tao, the training sequences, the action, the exciting adventure and the concept of aliens waging a secret war on our planet using human hosts. The Lives of Tao was also one of the Goodreads Choice finalists this year! So the big question is, does the sequel live up to the first?
The answer to that is an emphatic yes. The Deaths of Tao successfully moves the story on from book one, upping the stakes and the action while still keeping that feeling of fun, as well as the wonderful interactions between Roen and Tao that made the first book so loveable. Book two poses some bigger ethical questions for the Prophus, who like to see themselves as morally superior to the Genjix but who nevertheless struggle with the uneasy fact that they are using their hosts for their own ends. There is plenty of interesting stuff here, going deeper than book one by exploring things on a much more personal level. Roen has a family now, and both Roen and Jill’s differing roles in helping the Prophus have torn their relationship and happiness apart. All the characters have to confront things about themselves, allowing for some great development.
We also focus more on Jill in this book, who is given her own point of view chapters. This is great, and Jill does not disappoint as a capable and interesting character to follow. Unlike Roen, her skills lie in diplomacy and politics rather than hitting things, so Jill is moving the cause of the Prophus forward in Washington DC, playing the politics of the city to try to keep the USA under Prophus control. Adding politics to what is a very action-focused story could have been a disaster, but Wesley Chu pulls it off effortlessly, and I loved seeing this aspect. Secret wars have to be fought in a variety of ways, and being a super spy is only one of them. However, Jill is not left without her own training to undergo as she is put through her free-running paces! I enjoyed these bits (though I became very aggravated with a certain smarmy gentleman), as well as getting to see how Jill’s relationship with her very own Prophus has developed.
And speaking of that, what about everyone’s favourite alien? Tao and Roen are just as wonderful together as ever, adding that vital element of humour to a book that is actually a lot darker in tone than the first. There were many moments that had me laughing out loud, a fact probably not quite so appreciated by the fellow passengers on my train.
And then there are the bad guys. The author gives us a fantastic nemesis in Zoras and his new host Enzo, a man who will stop at nothing to prove himself everyone’s superior. At first Enzo gives the impression of being a bit of a loose cannon, but it soon becomes clear that he is very intelligent and good at manipulating situations to his advantage. In fact, the Genjix are in a much stronger position all round in this book, giving the feeling that the Prophus are scrambling to hold on to whatever they can. This has a very Empire Strikes Back feel to it; the good guys may have won the odd battle, but the war itself is a much more daunting prospect.
The Deaths of Tao is as funny, loveable and entertaining as the first book, and adds even more depth to the characters, story and themes. With some major changes taking place towards the end of the book (and one heck of a must-know-what-happens-next ending), I’m really looking forward to seeing where the author takes us next!
Thanks to Angry Robot for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
Editor’s Note: The author of this review is now an intern at Angry Robot. However, this review was written before she was offered the position, so her current position with the company did not affect her views on the book.