An explosive action adventure from start to finish.
The Deaths of Tao by Wesley Chu is the follow-up to the very successful The Lives of Tao, a book about symbiotic aliens and a global war between the two main alien factions. This book does everything a good sequel should do, improving on the first book in every facet, expanding the scope of the conflict, and delivering big punches and bigger consequences.
The story starts many years after the events of the first book, with Roen and Tao having proven themselves as an effective partnership who can get the job done. But Roen and Tao have gone off the reservation, leaving behind his wife and child, and the Prophus, to chase wild conspiracy theories. The war has gone from bad to worse for the Prophus, their backs are against the wall, and Gengix can smell blood in the water. But, as the saying goes, beware the wounded animal backed into a corner.
The Deaths of Tao is a very good sequel, one that benefits from all the world building established in the first book. We already know who the Quasing are, we already know how they symbiotically integrate with human hosts, we already know about the war between the Prophus and the Gengix, and we have already seen the Roen and Tao training montage. Chu takes advantage of this knowledge and drops us in the middle of an action scene, not letting up until the explosive finale. He expands the global nature of the conflict, he introduces political games and conflicts between Gengix and Prophus politicians, and he gives us a different perspective on the war by providing a number of chapters from the viewpoint of a Gengix host from the Adonis program. This really is a much bigger story.
Because so many years have passed between the events in the first and second books, the characters we got to know in first book have really changed in the second book. Roen, for instance, has become extremely jaded with the Prophus, very sceptical of Gengix motivations, and paranoid about almost everything. He and Tao have a much better rapport now, and even though they constantly bicker, you can tell that they are friends who care about one another. I like Roen and Tao much more in this story. Roen's estranged wife Jill, and her Quasing Baji, have a bunch of chapters to show off the political side of this war. Despite the years that have passed, the relationship between Jill and Baji is tense, and you feel like one of them could snap at any point. Jill provides a refreshing perspective on this war that she has been dragged into, and I found her chapters to be some of my favourites. The other main character, as I alluded to before, is Enzo from the Adonis program, a genetically engineered human host who has just been given the honour of hosting Zoras, one of the highest ranking members of the Gengix council. Enzo is a product of his upbringing, with an ego to match all those years being told that he's the best of the best of the best. He is a brutal, unrepentant, and unrelenting man who thinks he knows better than his Quasing, but has no political savvy or subtlety. Chu has built a lot of depth into these characters, and as a result Roen, Jill and Enzo really make this book shine.
Wesley Chu is an author on the rise, proving that the success of The Lives of Tao was no fluke. The Deaths of Tao is an explosive action adventure from start to finish, one that easily kept me happy and entertained. I think fans of urban fantasy or action movies will get a good kick out of this book.
Review by Ryan Lawler
9/10 from 1 reviews
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