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Publisher's Summary

When out-of-shape IT technician Roen wakes up and starts hearing voices in his head, he naturally assumes he’s losing it.

He isn’t.

As of last night, he has a passenger in his brain - an ancient alien life-form called Tao, whose race crash-landed on Earth before the first fish crawled out of the oceans. Over the millennia his people have trained human heroes to be great leaders, to advance our species at a rate far beyond what it would have achieved on its own. Split into two opposing factions - the peace-loving, but under-represented Prophus, and the savage, powerful Genjix - the aliens have been in a state of civil war for centuries. Both sides are searching for a way off-planet… and the Genjix will sacrifice the entire human race, if that’s what it takes.

So now Roen must train to be a hero worthy of his unwanted companion. Like that’s going to end up well.…

©2013 Wesley Chu (P)2013 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Wesley Chu is my hero.… He has to be the coolest science fiction writer in the world." (Lavie Tidhar, World Fantasy Award-winning author of Osama)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Not funny, just a lot of fighting

Somehow I got the idea that this book was going to be funny, and it wasn’t. It was really pretty tedious, too much detail about how an out-of-shape IT guy has to go through a personal training regime in order to be an adequate “host” for an alien who has decided to co-habitate in his body with him. There are glimmers of an interesting, millennia-long backstory of how these aliens have meddled in human affairs, but it is told, not shown, and basically amounts to a bunch of supposedly “advanced” beings who cannot figure out how to make peace with each other. The bad guys are cardboard, and the good guys are not much better, they are a bunch of power hungry, vengeful kids fighting in a playground, only their playground is all of human history.

If you like endless descriptions of workouts, handgun training, martial arts training, and fights between people who spend all their time learning to shoot guns and throw kicks, this book is for you.

If you like complex stories with characters you actually care about, move along to the next book on your “to read” list.

[I listened to this as an audio book read by Mikael Naramore. I wish the reader would have differentiated more between the voices. Since a lot of the dialog happens inside the characters’ heads as they discuss things telepathically with the aliens who are inside them, it was frequently difficult to tell whether they were talking with their “inside” voices or their “outside” voices. Presumably this was done in different fonts in the print version, which would have made some passages clearer but ultimately would not have improved the book, in my opinion.]

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

It's OK

It starts with an engaging premise, and decent characters. However, as it proceeds it feels as though the plot relies on cliche plot devices. If you have seen Hollywood movies you have a good idea of what is going to happen, and how. I found the book enjoyable at times, until some of the fight scenes. The fight scenes are redundant and cliche, and with the book down. When one arose it was tough to slog through. I do not anticipate reading this again.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

so many clichés

Sometimes a book is so awful you keep listening just to see how awful it gets. this is a series of clichéd secret agent tropes layered on run of the mill body snatcher alien tropes mixed with a mid 20s protagonist who still has not passed nerd teen development stage. and every character is uninteresting and zero dimensional.

decent narration however.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Not complex enough for me

For me it wasn't as complex as I'd like. Characters were pretty basic without too much depth. The main character was okay but toward the end he just didn't have the growth and depth I usually enjoy. The narrator was good but his British accents weren't very good. His females were okay and didn't annoy me. Also toward the end the writers subconscious sexism came through a bit. A lot of basic questions weren't answered like if the aliens can reproduce and the hosts didn't seem concerned with their lack of privacy during intimate moments. Luckily there weren't very many intimate moments so it didn't occur to me for a while. Also the action didn't really make feel anything. I didn't feel on the edge of my seat. A main character's death barely bothered me probably because I saw it coming. I probably won't listen to the next in the series.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

creative, thoughtful, laugh-out-loud thrills

What made the experience of listening to The Lives of Tao the most enjoyable?

The best part of listening to The Lives of Tao was hearing the wit, humor, and general "good-naturedness" brought to life by the excellent narrator. It was the perfect pairing of narrator and narrative voice.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Lives of Tao?

The very beginning, where the book starts with a pulse-pounding action sequence.

What does Mikael Naramore bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The book has a wry but gentle tone, and Naramore was perfect for expressing that.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

"Was Steve Jobs really that smart, or did he benefit from a symbiotic relationship with a millions-of-years-old alien from another galaxy who co-inhabited his body? You decide."

Any additional comments?

When an alien at war loses his human host and must seek refuge in the body of an overweight schlub, he must turn the schlub into special ops secret agent as quickly as possible. Yet, “The Lives of Tao” by Wesley Chu is more than a “fish out of water” story. It’s an exciting and very creative science fiction thriller that fuses history, thrills, spy story conventions, and humor. With an alien in your head, you, even you, can become James Bond. I was disappointed in the denouement, which was out of character and cliché, but I’m trying not to let that override the great pleasure with which I read the rest of the book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Voice acting...

I felt that although the voice acting was good as the MC matured he still was voiced with a winey voice until the end. Even in passages when he was described as grunting out military commands it sounded as if he was a child wineying or complaining to get his way. The voice acting did not make sense for the context of the story at that point and really killed the end of this book for me.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Meh... Started off promising

Really wanted to love this book and it started out with loads of promos but just petered out into average very quickly. Struggled to finish this one and have no desire to read the next. There just wasn't enough character development to make you wan to know what happens next.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Very enjoyable read

I'm not sure why a reviewer or two has mentioned this book as predictable. Overall I guess you could say that most books are predictable in the aspect of the story containing heroes and villains and conflict. However the character development and the world that was created by the author was intriguing, sometimes exciting, and definitely fun. A really good read overall.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Steph
  • United States
  • 09-11-13

I loved it! I need the next book in the series!

I loved this book! I just finished it and I can not wait for the next book. I am so glad this will be a series. The book is fun. You have a protagonist that you can not help love because he is overweight, unhappy at his job, fruitlessly going to clubs to try and meet someone and absolutely enduring. It is good enough I am listening to it a second time currently

The story is about an alien that inhabits the human body of our protagonist. He wasn't exactly our aliens first choice but beggars can not be choosers. You follow the transition of our protagonist learning of his alien inhabitant, figuring out he is not crazy, and developing a positive relationship. Roan gets involved in a war between two different factions of aliens who have been influencing human evolution for years. Our host has been Ghengis Khan, Laffayette, and several other notables.

Wesley Chu is extremely funny and utilizes multiple pop culture and historical references. This is a book you will enjoy and feel good after reading. Sci fi lovers, spy novel lovers, and anyone who ever wanted an escape from a boring job to become a secret agent will enjoy it. Even better we get the complaining of not getting to eat pizza and being forced to run until you fall down from complete exhaustion. There is no magical transition. Mikael Naramore does a great job. His interpretation of Roan and Tao are perfect. He has some difficulties with some accents and interpretation of women but it is not enough to rate him low for the narration. I find his narration very enjoyable.

Read this!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Nathan
  • London, Ontario Canada
  • 08-16-13

Realistic take on secret agent with aliens

Stereotypical overweight programmer gets to live out dream of being trained as a secret agent. Only it's a realistic version of a secret agent with all the boring parts and there's an alien voice inside his head. I was worried it would be too similar to The Host but it's completely different.
Funny and was refreshing to read something with modern day pop culture & geeky references. First half should be used for workout motivation showing the large amount of work involved in getting an overweight couch nerd into shape.
I think it went too far with the amount of influence aliens had on human evolution. According to it every single historical event or person was influenced by the aliens. Has a somewhat surprising ending and written with intention of a sequel.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • A. S. Bradshaw
  • 12-05-15

Great Action Sci-Fi

Where does The Lives of Tao rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

One of the top, the audio narration is great and the story fast paced

Who was your favorite character and why?

I think you'd have to say Tao, just a brilliant, deep character you come to know and love

Which scene did you most enjoy?

One of the scenes where Tao first starts training Roan

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

There was a lot of laughter and the series in general has a lot of twists taking it places you wouldn't expect

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ildiko Haraszi
  • 07-29-15

Exciting and alive

I love the story, the narration is incredible, Mikael's range of voices and accents is really bringing characters alive.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Malcolm
  • 07-24-15

A good, fun read

Where does The Lives of Tao rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This book ranks well against my previous books. An interesting concept that makes schizophrenia sufferers wonder!

Who was your favorite character and why?

Tau himself, having to put up with Roen. A good relationship all round..

Which character – as performed by Mikael Naramore – was your favourite?

As above

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Made me laugh out loud even in the sad parts....

Any additional comments?

A good all round listen, looking forward to the next book in the series...

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kelly
  • 07-23-15

Don't judge a book by its cover

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes - it's one of those books you wonder why you hadn't read it sooner

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Lives of Tao?

Just the bonding and growth of the 2 main characters

What does Mikael Naramore bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

The voices and suspense - impressed with his differences in tone and characters

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Yes

Any additional comments?

Better than you think - slow to start but boom its Amazing whoop!!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mr R.
  • 07-10-15

Great story well read

Would you listen to The Lives of Tao again? Why?

Perhaps

What did you like best about this story?

The novel concept of aliens among us

Which character – as performed by Mikael Naramore – was your favourite?

Roan

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

No ....

Any additional comments?

Will try the others in the series

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • NM
  • 06-17-15

Loved it!

Don't be put off by any negative reviews - this is a really great book! I've already got the second one ready to go in case it ends when I'm in the car or running....I think I'd quite like to have Tao living inside me!

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Robert
  • 05-28-15

Over sold

From the blurbs on the book cover and other reviews I was expecting a lot from this story.

It mostly delivered and the story, writing and performance were all very good. But the promised humour was not there. It had a wry sense of humour in places and was a bit amusing at times but it was mostly a straight up action story.

I liked it and am interested in a follow up but it won't make my top ten.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • GhostMuppet
  • 03-19-15

An alien war on earth that we know nothing about

I wanted a nice fun read after the heavy Gardens of the Moon, Malazan book 1.
The third book is out soon, and my book club have recommended this series a few times - so, I got the audible version.

And they were right.

This is a nice light, fun, interesting read/listen.

Essentially, Tao is an alien. His race crashed on this planet before the humans were around. They need a host to survive - so have spent millennia co-existing with humans and other life forms.
But there is a civil war going on between the 2 factions of aliens. Tao is a operative who loses his host and has to take emergence possession of the nearest vessel - an overweight male computer tech.
This is where the story really starts.

The book is essentially a normal bloke who thinks the secret operative business is like James Bond - boy is he in for a surprise.

This book did the job i was after - and i look forward to the second and third books.