Warning: This review contains spoilers for the previous books, The Lives of Tao and The Deaths of Tao. You can’t read The Rebirths of Tao as a stand-alone — you really need to read the previous books first. My review will not spoil The Rebirths of Tao.
The Rebirths of Tao is the third and final book in Wesley Chu’s TAO series about a race of aliens (called the Quasing) who crash-landed on Earth millennia ago and, in an effort to get their spaceships working so they could get back to their home planet, are responsible for the evolution of the human species. They have managed this by possessing the bodies of creatures they found on Earth and guiding their actions. Due to differences in ideology, the Quasing have split into two factions. The Genjix don’t care about humanity at all and are willing to do whatever is needed to accomplish their goal to get off Earth or, as we have recently learned, to terraform — I mean Quasaform — Earth into a suitable environment for themselves. The Prophus, however, feel that they owe their human hosts something, so they try to benignly guide and care for the creatures of Earth. The humans have had no idea there were aliens among them… until recently.
Back in the first book, The Lives of Tao, Roen Tan, a rather unremarkable human, was possessed by Tao, one of the Prophus leaders. He got dragged into the war between the alien sects. In the second book, his wife Jill, who also is possessed by a good alien, and who has been estranged from Roen, decided to tell the world about the aliens. As could have been expected, the uninhabited humans didn’t respond too well to this news. Now they’ve got technology that can find alien-possessed humans, and they’re on a witch… er, alien, hunt.
The Rebirths of Tao opens several years later. Roen and Jill are reunited again. Their son Cameron, now 15 years old, has been Tao’s host since Roen almost died at the end of the previous book. Their family is deeply involved in the Prophus movement. Not only are they hiding, and helping other hosts to hide, from world governments, but they are also engaged in the Prophus war against the Genjix. This story follows each of the family members as they do their separate part to keep the Prophus and the humans alive. It also follows a couple of the Genjix as they try to do the opposite. One of these bad aliens plans to start World War III, with Russia’s help. Another plan involves the aforementioned Quasaforming, something that has been going on for decades and which we know of as “Global Warming.” Throughout the story, Chu continues to enlighten us about how so much of human history has been influenced by aliens. It holds together well and I think it explains quite a bit, actually.
The Rebirths of Tao is a satisfying conclusion to the TAO trilogy. It’s not quite as entertaining as the first book (because back then the premise was new and the story was told from Roen’s humorous perspective), but it’s better than the second book which had some sloppy spots and spent too much time in the political arena. The Rebirths of Tao has all the drama we’re expecting, including car crashes, daring rescues, secret raids, close escapes, gun fights, some brutal hand-to-hand combat scenes, and a shocking betrayal. Much of the story is told from Cameron’s perspective, which gives it a nice fresh, almost YA, feel. I like Cameron. His storyline has a romance in it and, I have to admit, Chu really surprised me with it. I thought I knew where it was going and I was totally wrong. I like it when that happens.
The ending of the TAO trilogy leaves a few threads dangling. I checked Wesley Chu’s blog to find out if perhaps a fourth book is planned. He says that the books are a trilogy and that this is the final installment. However, he also says: “Who knows, I might one day revisit them, either for another book or a novella or whatever… Also, The Rise of Io is dropping next year and is set in the same world as the Tao trilogy. You might find a couple of them Tans dropping by to see what’s up and to cause some trouble. We’ll just have to see, eh?” Well, I hope so. I’ve enjoyed TAO and I’d especially like to see what becomes of Cameron Tan.
Mikael Naramore once again does a fabulous job with the narration of the audiobook version produced by Audible Studios. He’s perfect in every way and I feel like I enjoyed the story even more because of his performance. The audio version is 14 hours long.