I was going to say that Wesley Chu is a rising star in the sci-fi/fantasy literature community, but at what point do you stop ‘rising’ and are a solid star? With seven books out now, Chu has clearly established himself among the awesome elite of new(er) fantasy authors.
In The Rise of Io, Chu begins what looks like a sort of side-line story to “Tao” series. The Tao series follows ‘Tao,’ a member of an alien race known as Quasing. The Quasing have divided into two groups known as ‘Prophus’ and ‘Genjix’ and the groups are fighting each other and Tao, a Prophus, is trying to avoid capture by the Genjix.
But this book follows ‘Io’ – also a member of the Prophus.
Ella Patel is a young girl who has survived living in the slum area known as Crate Town by being crafty and quick and a thief and con-artist. But she’s in the wrong place at the wrong time when Quasing ‘Io’ is forced to leave his host and he inhabits Ella. Most humans don’t know about the Quasing and when Ella starts hearing voices in her head she can’t figure out what is happening. Later, as she learns what has happened, she doesn’t trust Io to be giving her good information.
Io, unlike Tao, is a low-level Prophus – one who never had much authority, and perhaps never the ambition (though would never admit it, but rather bemoan is fate). And while Io has had a desire to rise higher among the Prophus, he has met his match with Ella – someone who has survived by being distrustful. The Quasing can’t actively control a host, but instead plant suggestions. Ella resists suggestions and will often do the exact opposite to spite the voice in her head.
Much of the first portion of the book is establishing the back-and-forth volatile nature of the Io/Ella relationship, but it flows nicely and author Wesley Chu offers just enough mystery even in the early stage of the book to keep the reader guessing and curious about where the story is headed. There are some surprises in store (though the ‘big’ surprise was actually pretty easy to spot), but it was really quite fun to experience this Quasing war from a very different perspective, and Ella doesn’t make it any easier on Io, given her nature.
What is really so interesting about this book is how we get a continuing story – for those who’ve read the Tao series, much of this will be familiar – but it stands on its own (you don’t need to have read the Tao series), and while the story itself is intriguing and involving, what really carries this book are the primary characters, Io and Ella, and their relationships, not only with each other but with everyone around them.
Wesley Chu is a talented writer, and although I really enjoyed his foray into a new series with Time Siege, I really liked getting back to the world in which the Quasing are around.
Looking for a good book? The Rise of Io by Wesley Chu returns to Chu’s world of Prophus and Genjix but with a new set of characters who are strong and willful and a delight to read.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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The Rise of Io
author: Wesley Chu
publisher: Angry Robot
paperback, 412 pages