• The Lives of Tao

  • By: Wesley Chu
  • Narrated by: Mikael Naramore
  • Length: 12 hrs and 20 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (721 ratings)

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The Lives of Tao  By  cover art

The Lives of Tao

By: Wesley Chu
Narrated by: Mikael Naramore
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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.
  • Series: Tao, Book 1
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: Romance

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 listeners say about The Lives of Tao

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.]

12 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    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.

3 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Awful, I couldnt get past the first chapter

I couldn't listen to this. The narration is terrible and all the characters sound the same so I don't know who is speaking. Audible please take this horrible book back.

3 people found this 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

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 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    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 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    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.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

An underrated listen !

I urge to listen to this story...if... you like action, sci-fi . Those are not uncommon combinations. However, I find that many times the action overwhelms the characters in a story. This is not the case with "The lives of Tao". Wesley Chu takes the time to develop his main characters and we care about them. We also feel the conflict he is dragged into. This story works on many levels. The reader added to the pleasure by making sure we knew who was involved when and giving them their voice. I was sad when we got to the end and am looking forward to book 2.

2 people found this helpful

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

Something

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Overall, yes. The vast majority of the book was enjoyable, only beginning to wear as the main character continued to use the same tired lines of thought and worn out phrases to express himself. There was the sense that the author was trying to poke fun at or reference cheesy spy and action classic tropes, but being boring for the sake of being cute is still being boring.

I will say that I became swept up in the world he created of secret behind-the-scenes alien warfare throughout history, and loved the basic concept of the book. Would even be interested to see more stories set in this universe, but perhaps with a different tone.

The core problem was perhaps one of target audience. The further I got into the book, the more I felt that this would have made an excellent teen or young adult book, even though it was clearly not trying to be. It felt too toothless, the main character almost impossibly immature after a point, to be about adults. Perhaps if I had started it viewing it as a book for teens I would have been lenient.

Would you ever listen to anything by Wesley Chu again?

Probably. This felt like a sophomore attempt, a talented and imaginative writer still trying to break free of the bounds of convention and, for lack of a better term, self-doubt. Many times he began down a good path only to fall back on the same outcomes, situations, and phrases. The bulk of the work, however, was fine.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Mikael Naramore?

Yes. Naramore's narration was overall good, his inability to deliver an English accent not withstanding. HIs characters were clearly defined and consistent, which is important in a book that contains multiple simultaneous conversations occurring on different levels.

Could you see The Lives of Tao being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

Yes, but it would accused of being something of a "Chuck" rip-off. I think it would make a fairly good TV series. It could be fun to cast the voices of impressive older actors (Patrick Stewart springs to mind) as the disembodied aliens giving advice, with young up-and-coming TV talents in the leads.

Any additional comments?

I would recommend saving your money and hoping for a sequel. It's a great world, but the characters don't live up to it. Centuries of military wisdom and experience consistently give way to blind, short-sighted action, and the main character pretty stubbornly refuses to mature, think, or grow. Until a sudden last act change where he becomes a collected yet bloodthirsty freedom fighter without any real expectation.

The book tries for high mindedness, but ends up feeling like it was written for 14 year old boys. I look forward to seeing whether this author can bring his visions in line with his talent in the future.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Interesting Premise

Any additional comments?

This book has an interesting premise, and Wesley Chu delivers a good story to back it up. I enjoyed the book from start to finish, and look forward to the sequel.

My only quibble is the "training montage" part of the story does seem to have a bit of a gap somewhere. In other words there's a hole where the hero jumps from fat lazy oaf to super bad ass secret agent without adequate explanation.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Ahmed
  • 10-21-18

interesting concept but poorly executed in my opin

the main characters little bit windy keeps messing up and people keep say no it's ok you doing good.. spoiler alert the ending is completely his fault. i found my self skipping most the time when he became annoying am not really interested in continuing with the series. again very interesting concept I love the idea of aliens & spies.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-04-20

Fun.

Great idea, but don’t expect any deep sci-fi. Action-packed fun listen though. Similar to Craig Alanson’s Expeditionary Force series in the aliens-mentoring-unkikely-heroes sense.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-12-18

Good idea poorly executed

Unlikeable everyman character who spent the best part of 30 chapters moaning. I understand the authors desire to create a character that the reader can relate too but an incompetent moaner who isn't particularly proactive is not the best way to endear the character to a reader. Finally gave up at chapter 30 due to poor narration with dodgy accents and the long drive I was on was finally over. Maybe the story is more palatable as an actual book but for an audible purchase I give it a generous 3 out of 5

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • 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
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • 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
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • 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
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • 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
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • 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
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • 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
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  • 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.