The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
That awkward moment when you enjoyed the book but hated the hero and wished he would drop dead, preferably within the first chapter he was introduced. OMFG, the whiny dipshit was insufferable. I understand characters need to have flaws or else they’re not believable, but at some point there is such a thing as too many flaws to the point that it is UNBELIEVABLE that the character is still ALIVE. Roen was the classic definition of TSTL. TSTL, I say!
“OMG. Gun shoots and kills people. OMG. This alien war is for serious. OMG. I don’t know my reasons for fighting because I’m too slow to realize that I’m fighting to save humanity from eternal enslavement under the bad aliens. I need to take a break and go discover myself while my comrades are risking their lives everyday to keep another day safe for humanity.”
Roen never attained the large amount of character growth I expected from him. At the end, he still needed his alien-in-his-head buddy Tao to play cheerleader for him in the confrontation against the big bad guy. *glares*
Equally ridiculous was how the weak ass went from being incapable of talking to girls to attracting the romantic interest of two gorgeous, competent ladies. The love triangle between Sonya and and Jill made me want to flip a table. I’m all for wish-fulfillment in books but not for a pathetic excuse of a hero who doesn’t deserve it. While I understood their reasons for liking Roen, these ladies could have done sooooo much better, someone who wouldn’t predictably put their life in danger because the dipshit wasn’t thinking. Speaking of Jill, it was very odd that for such an important character she rarely made a physical appearance in the story. Anyway, I was grateful that at least the story was told in multiple POV and not exclusively from Roen’s.
The only reason I was still invested in the book was because of the aliens. The world building went like this: aliens crashed-landed on Earth, stranded and without resources to return home; aliens used humans as hosts because apparently their technology isn’t advanced enough to live without one (but somehow faster than lightspeed travel and immortality is); aliens split into two factions because one prefer to watch over humans like divine guardians and one prefer to rule over them like the inferior creatures they are à la global domination, Prophus vs. Genjix respectively. While the world building explained a lot about the aliens’ origin and motives, it didn’t develop the alien culture. It practically swept the alien culture under the rug as, “well the aliens have been here a long time, so it is reasonable that would they take on human characteristics,” which is plausible but a couple steps short of convincing. As far the world building was concerned, the bad guys were essentially an evil corporation, one that just happened to have evil aliens as the overlords who didn’t really act much like aliens.
The thing that I liked about the bad aliens was how ruthlessly they acted. I wished Tao emulated that ruthlessness, at the very least in regard to make Roen a hero because if there was ever a person who needed tough love Roen was it. The only reason I liked Tao because most of his scenes that were told in his POV were flashbacks to ancient times when he traveled around in East Asia and possessed historical figures. The history lessons with an alien twist were interesting.
I rate The Lives of Tao 2-stars for it was okay. The low-rating is all Roen’s fault.
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