That is not dead which can eternal lie; but with strange eons, even death may die. Let’s hold a funeral for The Deaths of Tao, by Wesley Chu.
The Prophus and the Genjix are at war. For centuries they have sought a way off-planet, guiding humanity’s social and technological development to the stage where space travel is possible. The end is now in sight, and both factions have plans to leave the Earth, but the Genjix method will mean the destruction of the human race.
That’s a price they’re willing to pay.
It’s up to Roen and Tao to save the world. Oh, dear…
As the secret war between the Prophus and the Genjix continues, Genjix council member Zoras finds himself in a precarious position. With his plans to transform Earth into a reproduction of the Quasing home planet of Quasar at a critical stage, his old host dies, forcing him to switch to a younger and less experienced vessel. His new host is arrogant and impetuous, sometimes disregarding his commands and risking his work and his life; and his political rivals on the Genjix council seek to capitalize on this weakness.
Also, I guess the protagonists do some stuff as well, but it doesn’t seem all that important.
The Deaths of Tao has this problem where the heroes and villains seem to be in completely different stories. There are two protagonist viewpoint characters, Jill/Baji and Roen Tan/Tao; and one antagonist viewpoint character, Enzo/Zoras. What is Jill’s plot about? Political wrangling over a trade bill regulating commerce between the US and China. What is Roen’s plot about? A rescue mission to save a Prophus operative stranded in Taiwan. What is Enzo’s plot about? Battling Prophus insurgents trying to free prisoners from a camp in Tibet. The heroes should be trying to stop Enzo from carrying out his evil plan, but instead they’re off gallivanting around in completely different countries on completely different matters. Why isn’t our protagonist viewpoint character the leader of the Prophus insurgents attacking the camp? He’s the one actually fighting the bad guys!
In fact, though the book is named after Tao, he and Roen are saddled with the most pointless of the book’s storylines. Jill at least becomes relevant to the plot, once Enzo initiates Operation Eagle Purity and she has to fight assassins and make the decision to expose the Quasing to the world to stop the Genjix plan. Roen is off on a wild goose chase the entire time. He’s sent to Taiwan to rescue a Prophus agent stranded behind enemy lines, but for a long time has no luck in his search. Then, when he finally does locate the agent, it turns out that he wasn’t supposed to: the agent didn’t want to be extracted, and Roen’s team were supposed to be decoys who would search in the wrong place and thereby lure the Genjix away from the agent’s actual hideout. Then Operation Eagle Purity goes down and the whole thing becomes irrelevant anyway. As a bonus, Roen is left stranded a long way from the action going down in the States, unable to become relevant the way Jill does. For all of Tao’s impact on the plot, he might as well not have bothered to show up in a book bearing his name.
Lest you be tempted to take this as praise for Jill’s plot, don’t forget that Operation Eagle Purity doesn’t start until near the end of the book. The rest of the time e spend with her is just one long training montage. Because God knows we didn’t get enough of them in the previous book. It’s a sad state of affairs when Zoras, the villain, is the only character doing anything I care about. Say this for him: he may be evil, but at least he’s not boring!
Well, with the existence of the Quasing having been exposed to the world, hopefully the next book will heat things up a little. Because seriously, Tao; the goodwill Ella Patel bought you will only stretch so far.
Final Rating: 2/5