Imagine a secret history behind the "history" we know of the world. Imagine aliens guiding that history. Imagine the aliens trying to return to their home world. Imagine the aliens (which are translucent blobs/amoebas) bonding with humans. Imagine these human/alien hybrids rising to positions of power throughout history. Now imagine the aliens have fractured in two groups, with each having a very different thought about the role humans should play in helping the aliens return home. This is the overarching story behind The Lives of Tao, by Wesley Chu.
When Tao's host is killed thanks to a betrayal, he is forced to find a new one and fast. Tao (a Prophus, an extremely long-lived alien species) attaches himself to Roen, an early-thirties out-of-shape IT guy. As Tao reveals himself to Roen, he begins to explain the bigger picture: how the Prophus and Genjix (the alien factions) have been using humans to help them return to their home planet. Roen's life begins to change as he joins the fight to save the Prophus and return them home.
I really enjoyed this story. It was entertaining and fun. The interaction between Tao and Roen reminded me of some of the great odd couple pairings. I found myself wanting to know more of the secret history of the Prophus and the Genjix, and Chu did a nice job of weaving in some background at the beginning of the chapters. Supporting characters Sonya, the attractive spy in charge of Roen's training; Jill, the co-worker Roen crushes on; and Antonio, Roen's doctor roommate, add depth and charm to the story. The ending provides resolution to this book, while nicely setting up a possible series.
I would highly recommend this book to fans who like their espionage tinged with sci-fi, or vice-versa.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Angry Robot Books.