Tyler reviews Wesley Chu’s “The Lives of Tao”

The Lives of TaoThe Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Reasonably well written, ultimately failing to delight. This is basically a geek secret agent fantasy, the protagonist being computer geek Roen Tan, not the titular alien. Where it disappoints me is in hewing too close to the line that the only way to be cool is to be super-fit and coordinated and good in a fight. He has struggles getting to that point, serious doubts and discouragements, which is why this gets three stars from me instead of two. But ultimately he turns into just another secret agent type, in a situation where the alien culture is ripe for a huge paradigm shift. The aliens think they have all the time in the world, failing to realize that the humans are quickly getting to the point where the aliens will no longer be able to hide; another ten years if they’re lucky. And they just keep squabbling and sticking to their centuries-old strategies as if nothing had changed.

Tao was supposedly the driving force behind Genghis Khan and the foundation of the Ming Dynasty. Why is he these days reduced to just raiding and sabotaging the enemy, instead of being in charge of huge social movements? Has he forgotten everything he once knew about being the pivot point behind world events? No wonder his side is losing; they forgot how to think big.

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