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The Rise of Io by Wesley Chu

The Rise of Io by Wesley Chu
Book Name: The Rise of Io
Author: Wesley Chu
Publisher(s): Angry Robot
Formatt: Paperback / Ebook
Genre(s): Science Fiction
Release Date: October 4, 2016

The Tao books hold a very special place in my heart. I discovered them by accident and instantly fell in love with the characters and the adventures they had. I loved the concept of the Quasing and Chu’s light-hearted writing style.

When the Tao series came to a close, I was very satisfied with the conclusion (you can read my review on this very site to see how satisfied I was), but I was also quite upset that it was over. I knew the books were successful and I suspected we might see more books within Tao’s world, but I didn’t know for sure if it would happen. When I heard the news that we were getting a new series set within the Tao universe, I was incredibly excited just as I am excited to be writing this review telling you about it.

What I’m about to write could contain mild spoilers for the book and the previous Tao novels, so if you’re yet to read them, just stop reading this and go get them. They’re incredible and you should read them.

– Spoilers –

The Rise of Io is the first book in a new series. It is set within the same world and it takes place after the events of the other books. This is a continuation of the world, but from the perspective of new characters, both human and Quasing alike.

The Rise of Io introduces us to, Ella Patel, a Han Solo type character who smuggles and cons her way through life. She lives in a kind of permanent shantytown built in the no man’s land left over from the Quasing war that occurred as a result of events in the Tao series. She is in the wrong place at the wrong time and ends up becoming the host to a Quasing named, Io. Now Ella becomes embroiled in the very war that took her life from her and she wants no part in it, but she has no choice if she is to survive the new enemies that hunt her.

The story sees Ella trying to control her life as the situation spirals from bad to worse around her. She decides she can make a profit by helping the aliens and she uses that motivation to justify her involvement. She gets involved in uncovering a Genjix plot, which threatens not only her home, but also everyone on Earth.

The Rise of Io is a great book that takes the structure of the first Tao book and plays with it in new and exciting ways. It does at times feel familiar to the first Tao book. Ella has to be trained as a new agent, much like Roen did in the first book, and we see her adjust to life as a host. The world is a different place now, however, and humans are aware of the aliens and react differently to their presence. This book feels less like a spy story, and more like a military one.

There are so many things I loved about this book. I think Ella is a fantastic character. She has so many layers to her, that even near the end of the book I was still discovering things about her. She’s so much fun to read about and I found myself really caring for her.

I also liked the introduction of Io and the exploration of a new Quasing’s history. The Tao books are full of information about Tao and his past hosts and exploits on Earth as he was instrumental in human history. Io is totally the opposite and it was incredibly refreshing. Io is as flawed as her host and I loved the new dynamic that offered after reading three books where Tao knew everything and knew best. Her storyline is fantastic and totally blew me away when I realised what was actually happening. It is a testament to Chu’s writing prowess that he was able to weave the two characters around one another so gracefully. I’m usually quite good at seeing the path a story is going to take, but the twist in this one came out of nowhere and I loved it.

I enjoyed exploring the world and political landscape post Rebirths of Tao. A lot of crucial events happen at the end of the third book and it changes the state of the world quite dramatically. Chu doesn’t shy away from exploring these elements in this book and it was interesting to see how things had changed as the world powers consolidate and reposition themselves.

However, what I liked the most about this book was the return of some of the old characters from the Tao series. I kind of half expected it to happen, but when Roen and Cameron eventually show up, I kind of lost my shit! I loved it. I’m glad we got to spend most of the book with Ella and Io, but it was just awesome when the other characters show up to help welcome Ella into this world. There are other returning characters from the Genjix side of things, but I won’t go into it here other than to say, they are great.

In true Wesley Chu fashion, the book has a great finale, with plenty of action and some serious emotion to boot. This book felt a lot darker to me than perhaps the whole of the Tao series. I could feel the Time Salvager influence here which is not a bad thing by any means.
The story of Ella is a far more tragic one than that of Roen’s journey from the very start and the world she lived in one was unforgiving and even cruel at times. The book is still littered with funny moments and some truly cracking dialogue. I think Io’s and Ella’s exchanges might even top the best Tao and Roen/Cameron talks and we’ve only just met these characters.

The ending was satisfying, but I can never get enough of this world or these characters, so I’m very excited for the next instalment to see where things go. If you haven’t read the Tao books, I wouldn’t recommend starting here. The events of those books are too important to this one, as are the characters.

– End Spoilers –

The Rise of Io is an utterly fantastic read and well worth your time. It’s one of my favourite books of this year. It’s a great adventure that keeps the tension high and the characters development front and centre. It brings a fresh new perspective to a world and storyline I’m already familiar with and it does it with so much style, you can’t help but smile in appreciation of the talent on display here.


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