Ein Lichtbalken bohrte sich durch das Nichts und schoss zum Zentrum der taktischen Karte.
Auf der Brücke hielten die Besatzungsmitglieder gleichzeitig den Atem an und verfolgten den Weg des Lichtstreifens durch das All. Im Raum herrschte Totenstille, wenn man von der monotonen Stimme absah, die die Sekunden bis zum Einschlag herunterzählte.
There has been a major shift in the battle between the two alien factions: the Prophus and the Genjix. They’re still in opposition - but humanity now knows they exist and is hunting them ferociously.
It has managed to save the Prophus from complete defeat, but the Genjix are still pushing towards their plan to radically change Earth - even while rent with internal conflict and the human opposition. Prophus must fight them - while keeping under the radar of the human authorities.
This book is excellent because it brings so many different storylines and balances them all perfectly
We have the conflict of the Tan family discussing Cameron’s upbringing and questioning what they did for their child, what his future looks like and how alien he may be because of that.
We have Cameron and Alex with the teen love affair and poor Tao lamenting the horror of human puberty (and frequent threats to jump off a cliff in his sleep). I loved how it ended, the reality of it and how it didn’t become sickeningly twee or consume the book.
We have Cameron - and I really love Cameron. He is incredibly skilled, extremely dangerous and even as a 15 year old far more dangerous than nearly anyone around him. He’s been backed from a very young age with vigorous training and the brilliant insight of a million year old alien full of knowledge and wisdom. It would have been so easy to turn this character into a juggernaut of Gary Stu dangerousness. It would have also been easy to turn him into a character who mopes around “woe is me why can I be normal”.
Instead while aspects of this are all present and inform his character, none to an extreme. He’s a really balanced character who combines all of these elements while still being very human and really bouncing well off Tao.
Then there’s Roen with his former relationship with Tao and the wonderful complexity this brings with both Prophus - since he’s the maverick former commander who doesn’t quite fit into their hierarchy even with Tao. And now he has a son who is possessed by his mentor which brings another whole level of complexity
And through that is Jill, effortlessly, perfectly competent in so many ways. There is an edge of the woman/mother/wife as keeper: she becomes super competent and a leader because of the manchild she married needs her to play parent. Jill’s an awesome character but the idea that a wife ends up having to be the caretaker of her husband is a problematic trope.
I have to say i spent a large part of the book vaguely irritated at Roen and co for their hatred of the IETF without ever actually thinking about how… right they are. Honestly, aliens have invaded Earth, they’ve been here since the dawn of human civilisation and they’ve spent pretty much all of that making humanity kill each other. Over and over again for centuries. Humanity, the IETF, have every damn good reason to loathe the Quasing
And it’s not like Prophus are necessarily good - they decided humans not fighting may develop the technology they needed to get home: it’s how useful humanity can be. It makes me really glad to see Tao’s harsh summation of his species - as well as adding to this excellent world building; what the Quasing do, how they act on their homeworld and other planets and a really insightful look into what the Quasing actually are and how the Quasing on Earth are so very different from what they were at home on Quasar.
I had such high hopes for the trilogy. The first entry had started well enough, with what seemed like a carefully plotted (maybe too much so) story and book. Books two and three appear to have suffer from sequel decay, and this last entry seemed to have it in severity.
Needless to say this review have spoilers for the last two books. Stop reading if you don't want to know!!
Book takes place a little over a decade (maybe more) since Book 2. Cameron is now a young man, in high school with some teenager problems. Roen and Jill are back together, living in the Pacific Northwest as she heads the operations in that area. The war is still going on.
It just felt like the author had no idea here to go. We split into three plotlines: Jill heading operations, Roen going off with Marco and Cameron stumbling off with a teenaged girl with all of the complications that come with hormones and that time of life. I liked Roen in Book One but now he has to share the stage with his family and unfortunately the introduction of Cameron forces him to share the stage (along with Jill). This seemed like the author had too much to handle on his plate and not enough. None of these arcs were particularly interesting at all. Cameron descends into the teenage boy who lets his hormones control him. Roen is separated from Tao (this separation is also minimized which was frustrating--I wanted more on this!) and reverts back somewhat to his Book 1 form (which is not good). Jill doesn't really get much development. I honestly didn't understand how or why Jill and Roen reconciled. I didn't care for her but I had hoped/expected we'd get more development from her.
The Enzo plotline was also somewhat predicable. He was being set up for his ending and it was telegraphed early on in Book 2. So when his end came I can't say I was surprised or pleased. Considering the overall conclusion of the trilogy it would have been a nice surprise if his ending was not what it was or along that particular vein.
It's too bad because the book began with a bang. I had expected not to like the beginning of the book (since I didn't like the starts of the last two books) but at first it seemed like the setup had a lot of potential. Cameron in particular initially reminded me somewhat of the upgraded "assets" of the Jason Bourne movies, where the next versions are faster, more powerful, more brutal, etc. His storyline had potential to go there considering his youth and how his character came about, but it was a totally lost cause.
I don't regret it but I am not as excited as Chu's other works. I was particularly intrigued by his 'Time' series but this makes me hesitant. Oh well. These were purchases as mass market paperbacks so it wasn't too expensive of a purchase. Would recommend library instead though.
After reading the first book ('The Lives of Tao') I was super excited. An urban sci-fi (maybe?) book about a slobby nobody who becomes a Jason Bourne type character with the help of an alien influence! Wooo! Although that book was not amazing I appreciated what felt like an actual planned story with the set up of the main character (Roen), the setting of these aliens trying to get home, a little romance and more.
Unfortunately...this book doesn't meet my expectations. I'll be discussing some plot points so if you don't want to read, avoid this review!
Are you ready?
The book picks up a few years after 'Lives' and I'll have to say I was disappointed. Roen has married Jill and they have a son, Cameron. The initial start of the story was slow and focused on their marriage/family. I don't care for Jill (initially thought she'd be a side character at best, never cared for the romance, was essentially elevated in the story by killing off another woman, she just doesn't get the same development as Roen did). Part of it is that I don't care for romance as a whole in my media. I just didn't care about their marriage troubles and unfortunately it was difficult to care for her as a character. She goes through some of the same trials Roen does in her up-training. The story was just done with Roen and done better.
She also has a bit of a side-plot working on Capitol Hill and in the US government. Even though I normally like that it was difficult to care for her plot and some of the complications that it entails. This particular plotline is important for the end and (I assume) the setup for the final entry of this trilogy though.
That said, the other parts of the book were better. The war is still going on and we have a big bad. Enzo seems a bit trope-y and I have strong suspicions as to where his character is going. I'm hoping I'm wrong so I'll wait to see what goes down in Book 3. That said, the book felt a bit like a mishmash. The Tans' marriage, the ongoing war, this new Big Bad, etc. It could be that this book suffers from the "middle entry must bridge the first and last books" disease though. But it was a bit of a letdown from the first book.
However, the ending totally caught me by surprise. I'm not shocked by these particular developments in themselves, although I would have assumed some of this would have been more suited to the end of Book 3 as a cliffhanger (the war) or as the ending (the death...maybe?). It should be interesting to see where Chu takes this story and should make the end an epic ride. I will say that one of the developments made me really wince with current events at the moment.
It did make me glad that I've been mostly avoiding information about these books because I'm aware there's a "sequel" trilogy (at least one book) of sorts and that might have spoiled my reading.
So while perhaps the book did not meet my expectations, I'm still intrigued. And it may be just it's the middle book plus the author perhaps not being very good with the beginnings of his books (I was put off by the first chapter of the previous book and initially held off reading it). I'm looking forward to the end of this ride.