This is a novella starring the son of the main protagonists from Chu’s Tao trilogy. If you haven’t read that trilogy, you probably won’t get as much enjoyment out of this story, but it does still function well-enough as a standalone.
Since the earliest days of our evolution, humanity has been guided and sometimes controlled by a race of alien brain parasites. After millions of years, it only makes sense that the aliens would begin to differ in their ideas of the direction humanity should go. Now, in the not-too-distant future, the alien secret is out in the open, and the war between the factions is about to come to a head.
Cameron Tan, son of the faction leaders, host to the alien Tao, and Ordinary College Student, just wants to enjoy his summer studying abroad in Greece. But when a Greek operative reports that the war is about to reach his homeland, it suddenly becomes crucial to smuggle himself, and the information he carries, across the border.
The only person available to help him do it? You guessed it. Our boy. But all Cameron wants to do is protect the people he cares about. Can he do that, without endangering his mission?
First I should state that the first book in this series, The Lives of Tao, is probably in my top 10 favorite books of all time. Although not without flaws, I also found myself screaming with delight the whole way through. Which, since I was listening to the audiobook in public, earned me some odd looks.
Though there was no public screaming this time, this novella was nevertheless a solid addition to the series.
The novella length worked well for this piece because there is very little “fluff”. Chu tended to pad the earlier entries in the series with a lot of mustache-twirling villain POVs, which didn’t work for me. This one has none of that. Like Tao the Alien, we stay in Cameron’s head the whole time.
Cameron is a likable character, and I thoroughly enjoyed being in his point-of-view. He has been trained from childhood to be an agent, and all the adults and aliens in his life agree that he’s one of the most talented alien hosts they’ve seen in a long time. Very easily this could have made him boring, but he is not. He is a well-realized and flawed character who often makes all the wrong decisions for all the right reasons.
This book wastes no time and cuts right to the chase. Cameron and his friends tumble from one crisis to another, and the pacing and tension are both excellent. While I would describe the Tao books as “fun” overall, this book doesn’t skimp on the gravity of the situation, either. There are some truly emotional, gut-punching scenes.
The only issue is I wish some of the loose ends had been tied up a little more. I won’t go into more for risk of spoilers, but we are introduced to at least one mystery that never gets any kind of resolution. But, I suppose that’s life. Sometimes things don’t get wrapped up in a neat little bow.
Also, this book needed more Roen. Hooray for Roen! Roen forever! We love Roen!
I may be biased.
Fast-paced fun for the whole family, as long as the whole family doesn’t mind tons of violence