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The Lives of Tao [Kindle Edition]

Wesley Chu
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (176 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Goodreads Choice 2013 Finalist - Science Fiction

Winner of the Alex Award for the American Library Association's 2014 Youth Media Awards

When out-of-shape IT technician Roen woke up and started hearing voices in his head, he naturally assumed he was losing it.

He wasn't.

He now 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. Now 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.

Meanwhile, Roen is having to train to be the ultimate secret agent. Like that's going to end up well...

File UnderScience Fiction [ The Tug of War | I Was Genghis | Diary of a Slob | Spy vs Spy ]

 



From the Paperback edition.


Editorial Reviews

Review

"Few books begin more engagingly than The Lives of Tao, a science fiction romp which wears its principal strength -- the wit and humor of the narrative voice -- on its sleeve."  - The Huffington Post

"If you want something to read on a plane or settle into over the weekend, this is the book you want to pick up. But like most great stories, there's a little more going on under the surface." - SF Signal

"Note to James Patterson fans: this is how to write a sci-fi page turner." - Sci Fi Bulletin

"Chu's good-natured adroitness with character development is matched by his thriller-style plotting, a fine blend of gentle humor and sharp suspense." - Barnes & Noble Review

"a science fiction story that is one part spy novel, one part buddy flick, one part comic book, one part eye-opener history lesson...among many other elements. Yes, it's a lot of parts, but they blend together quite well." - Examiner

“Just your usual “I’ve got an immensely wise alien in my head who wants me to become an international man of mystery” story. Which is to say, Page-turning homage to other classic SF like Hal Clement’s Needle. Recommended.”
-Steven Gould, author of the Jumper series

"Filled with non-stop action and brilliant asides on the history of our species, the book is sure to thrill and amuse."
- Ken Liu, Nebula Award winning author of The Paper Menagerie

This book is high-octane spy vs spy action with a sly sense of humor.  Pure pleasure from beginning to end. Highly recommended!  
-Ann Vandermeer, Hugo winning editor of Weird Tales and British Fantasy Award publisher of Buzzcity Press

“Tipping his hat to both science fiction novels and comic books, Chu delivers a narrative that is at times pulse-pounding, laugh-out-loud funny and thoughtful.
Part James Bond, part Superman, part Orphanage. There’s something here for everyone.”
- Myke Cole, author of Control Point and Fortress Frontier 

"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 and The Bookman Histories.

"In The Lives of Tao, newcomer Wesley Chu delivers an action-laced sci fi thriller filled with clever ideas and witty, engaging characters.  A thoroughly enjoyable ride." 
- John Marco, Author of The Inhumans and The Tyrants And Kings trilogies

"One part Deep Space Nine, three parts Babylon Five, and two parts Chuck."
- Gini Koch, author of the Alien/Katherine "Kitty" Katt series

"A fast-paced, high-action SF mix of Jason Bourne meets the Hero's Journey, jam-packed with dark conspiracies, wild romance, ancient aliens, and a secret, globe-spanning war. Loved it!"
- Matt Forbeck, author of Amortals and Hard Times in Dragon City

“A totally original sci-fi thriller that will have you hooked from page one with both riveting action and a sly wit.  This is a story of human history, the hidden powers that have shaped it, and one man’s transformation from complete nobody to a key fighter in the war for humanity’s future.”  
-Ramez Naam, H.G. Wells Award winner and author of Nexus

About the Author

Wesley Chu's best friend is Michael Jordan, assuming that best friend status is earned by a shared television commercial. If not, then his best friend is his dog Eva who he can often be seen riding like a trusty steed through the windy streets of Chicago.

Unfortunately, Chu's goals of using Hanes underwear commercials to launch a lucrative career following in Marky Mark's footsteps came to naught. Despite phenomenal hair and manicured eyebrows, his inability to turn left led his destiny down another road. Instead of creating new realities with his skills as a thespian, Chu would dazzle audiences with his pen. Well, it's a computer really, but the whole technology thing really sucks for metaphors. He had spirit fingers maybe?

In 2014, Wesley Chu was shortlisted for the John W. Campbell Best New Writer Award. Chu's debut novel from Angry Robot Books, The Lives of Tao, earned him a Young Adult Library Services Association Alex Award and a Science Fiction Goodreads Choice Award Finalist slot. The sequel, The Deaths of Tao, continues the story of secret agent Roen Tan and his sarcastic telepathically bonded alien, Tao.

Chu is currently working on the third book in the Tao series, The Rebirths of Tao, due out later this year. He's also recently finished the first draft of a new novel from Tor Books called Time Salvagers (Title TBD), featuring an energy stealing time traveler with addiction issues.

Product Details

  • File Size: 531 KB
  • Print Length: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Angry Robot (April 30, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00A1M5EG2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,813 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like the TV Show Chuck - with Aliens! April 30, 2013
Format:Mass Market Paperback
For Roen Tan, overweight IT technician, discontented with his life, it was first contact with an alien when Tao hitch hikes in his mind. But he soon finds out the aliens have been here all along, since the times of the Dinosaurs, symbiotically entwined and manipulating human's history throughout the centuries. Roen is thrown into the middle of a secret war between the Quasing (the better guys) and the Genjix (the worse guys, who don't particularly care if humans die if it means they get back to the home planet they've been cut off from). But not only is he thrown into the war--he's thrown into the deep end, having to get in shape, learn how to actually fight and run, and be able to handle himself in delicate political situations (sometimes only somewhat successfully). Throughout all this, he also starts dating.

The main strength of the novel is the easy wit and the camraderie between Roen and Tao. While initially their relationship is prickly, it develops into a deep, lasting friendship and brotherhood. Recommended for people who like sci fi humour with heart.
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95 of 118 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not For Me May 14, 2013
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Once again I seem to be outside the hivemind. Look around the internet, & you'll see glowing gushing reviews for Wesley Chu's debut. Funny, action packed, with a protagonist that people identify with. That hasn't been my experience at all.

Here's the setup: When a spy mission goes cockeyed, an alien named Tao is forced to look for a new host. He grabs Roen Tan & enlists him in a war between alien species that goes back millions of years. Hijinks ensue.

The tone is light & breezy; the type that you would normally associate with an Urban Fantasy novel. Despite the hilarity that so many others experienced, I didn't find the book to be particularly funny. Of course humor is incredibly subjective, so YMMV.

My biggest gripe is squarely at the center of the book: Roen Tan himself. When we first meet Roen, he's an underemployed fat slob with a post-collegiate drinking problem. While out on a drunken night on the town, he ends up playing the unwilling host to Tao. Other than as a collection of negative characteristics, Roen as a character doesn't really seem to exist. He has no interests or hobbies. He doesn't actually have any friends. (His roommate is the closest to a friend that we meet, yet their relationship seems to be more of a caricature of young male friendships rather than an actual representation of such.) He exists more as a placeholder for audience identification than as an actual character.

Assuming that Roen is indeed intended as an audience identifier, then his characterization is insulting. (And I would argue that he does in fact exist solely for the reader to identify with. The narrative is crafted in such a way that the reader is forced into this position.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Meet Tao--an alien lifeform stranded on Earth who has hopped from host to host throughout history. He (and this gender term is used loosely) has helped raise and destroy entire empires. He's guided nations, seen entire religions crumble, and he's a major player in a hidden war that has determined the course of human evolution...and could lead to its eradication.

Now, meet Roen Tan, a flabby IT tech with the self-esteem of a cowardly sea cucumber.

Due to rather unfortunate circumstances involving his last host, Tao is forced to take Roen as his latest host--and he's hardly happy with the situation. How is he supposed to continue fighting for the survival of his species while trapped in the body that can barely walk up a flight of stairs without getting out of breath?

So begins The Lives of Tao, a science fiction story that is one part spy novel, one part buddy flick, one part comic book, one part eye-opener history lesson...among many other elements. Yes, it's a lot of parts, but they blend together quite well.

Now, having an incredibly wise and knowledgeable entity in your head might seem like a great deal, but for Roen it means the beginning of an intense physical fitness regimen, having to hide the true nature of his situation from his friends and romantic interests, and also getting beaten to a pulp on a daily basis by a gorgeous woman half his size under the guise of "combat training."

Unless, of course, he wants to wind up dead at the hands of Tao's many enemies.

The Lives of Tao marvelously casts all of war, science, politics, religion, and economics into a stark new light. It switches well between action-packed scenes and philosophical discussions about human nature and the pitfalls of manipulation, even guided by the best of intents. All of it is spiced with excellent wit and humor.
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27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Getting in touch with your inner alien April 30, 2013
By Sue B.
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Science fiction always makes me just a little nervous...am I going to have to understand physics or deep cyber space or quantum whatevers? These things tend to give me a headache. But this is so very NOT the case with The Lives of Tao. I read this book with a smile on my face. This book wanted me to have a good time and I really did. There are aliens, and they live inside human hosts which sounds creepy but isn't. It's more like having a really brilliant friend that just happens to share your body, which still sounds creepy but, trust me, it isn't in The Lives of Tao. Tao doesn't have his own solid body, and can't survive on our planet so he lives inside a human body, and. He has been doing this for centuries, only death can separate him from his host, and his influence has created some of the leading figures in history.Tao is wise, experienced, cultured--quite the opposite of his new host, Roen. Their student/mentor relationship is really fun to watch unfolding, and the bond that develops feels quite true and well-earned. Of course there is more going on--there are actually a lot of these aliens-in-humans and they have formed two warring factions. This does involve some explaining and some back-story and this is done very gracefully. Always well integrated into the story, no awkward plops of indigestible information. The plot is fast paced and never drags. The Lives of Tao appeals on so many levels: coming of age tale, spy thriller, love story, Cinderella story, war chronicle, alternate history, alien adventure--all done with just the right comic touch. This novel really wants to entertain and it succeeds. Highly recommended for those who want a fun read, and a very original story of alien invasion.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun read, good emotional stakes
A strong first sci-fi/action/spy novel. It's funny, the characters are interesting and likable. The writing works like a scene-by-scene novel where it reads and is paced like an... Read more
Published 8 days ago by J. Tseng
2.0 out of 5 stars but it felt like a chore at times
I finished it, but it felt like a chore at times.
Published 8 days ago by Charles P. Kelly
3.0 out of 5 stars Cartoonish
The plot, dialogue and characterization would all be helped by graphic illustration. This is a graphic novel without the illustrations. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Da Ba Ba
4.0 out of 5 stars A really great read
This book was thoroughly entertaining. Good plot and great concept. Enjoyed talk of Tao past " lives". Kind of liked that the good guys weren't' so good. Read more
Published 21 days ago by Richard Scala
4.0 out of 5 stars This was a lot of fun. Great action sequences
This was a lot of fun. Great action sequences, and a very likable hero in Roen. The ending was a bit abrupt, but it was more of a set-up to a longer series than a self-contained... Read more
Published 29 days ago by Christopher M. Walsh
5.0 out of 5 stars Very original concept, fast paced and action filled. ...
Very original concept, fast paced and action filled. Loving this series and can't wait for book 3 to come out!
Published 1 month ago by Kip
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this series
I love this series
Published 1 month ago by E Robert Bergau
2.0 out of 5 stars An apology for slavery
The book follows the escapades of two groups of interstellar human slavers, while attempting to convince the reader that one of the effectively identical groups, apparently chosen... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mikey
2.0 out of 5 stars It's just not very good.
This is a book I was really looking forward to. It's an interesting idea, but poor plotting, atrociously bad dialogue, too-modern thinking ancient beings, and standard, overused... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ahimsa Kerp
4.0 out of 5 stars A very fun sci-fi adventure!
A race of ethereal aliens has been guiding life on this planet for millions of years, and with humanity now a player in the game, these aliens are taking a more involved approach... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Bibliotropic .net
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More About the Author

Wesley Chu's best friend is Michael Jordan, assuming that best friend status is earned by a shared television commercial. If not, then his best friend is his dog Eva who he can often be seen riding like a trusty steed through the windy streets of Chicago.

In 2014, Wesley Chu was shortlisted for the John W. Campbell Best New Writer Award. Chu's debut novel, The Lives of Tao, earned him a Young Adult Library Services Association Alex Award and a Science Fiction Goodreads Choice Award Finalist slot. The sequel, The Deaths of Tao, continues the story of secret agent Roen Tan and his sarcastic telepathically bonded alien, Tao.

Chu has two books scheduled for 2015. The last book in the Tao trilogy, The Rebirths of Tao, is coming out April 7th. Time Salvager, published by Tor Books, featuring an energy stealing time traveler with addiction issues, is slated for July 7th, 2015.

Website: www.wesleychu.com
Twitter: wes_chu

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