The Fall of Io follows an interesting and refreshing recipe. Take an alien-inhabited version of Earth set in the near future, add in well-choreographed fight scenes along with some spy fiction intrigue, top it off with a witty, annoyed alien presence lurking in the background, and you’ve got a hit. Chu’s Tao universe is a masterpiece of modern sci-fi and his prowess shows through in this second novel of the Io series. Get ready for a badass lead who fights like a semi-pro, steals like a boss and hides a heart of gold.
NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review. I only publish reviews of books I enjoy, and this novel meets that criterion.
A Few of My Favorite Things
There’s something truly brilliant about a girl accidentally thrust into the spot of a science fiction hero due to an unexpected death and her general proximity to an alien presence seeking a host. Ella is so far from the norm of a host, and that makes her a brilliant choice. We’ve seen the epically talented super agents who have everything together, who fight perfectly every time without help from anyone. We’ve seen the supremely confident leaders who have pasts filled with wars and heroic battles. With Ella, we see a past marred by poverty and the loss of her parents. A girl whose support system revolved around criminal activity and back-alley bargaining. She couldn’t be more different from Io, a millions-year-old alien who would rather inhabit anyone else. Chu inserts comedic dialogue between the two, adding a sense of levity to otherwise serious situations. The mix of humor with crime, spy, and science fiction elements makes this series truly unique.
Chu is always giving us different pieces of the puzzle, switching between multiple characters and adding to the suspense of knowing the main character is being pursued by both good and bad foes. The fight scenes are epic, especially given the directions from Io. There are few moments of rest and it’s exciting to experience.
This was my favorite part of The Fall of Io. Instead of focusing on super-agents, Chu features two underdog narratives: Ella (along with Io), and Makita, the retired agent brought back in for this mission. They’re continuously juxtaposed alongside Shura, an epic fighter and ruler of countries who can take down an entire room of people while still getting in one-liners. The underdog status of the other two makes the book relatable, giving the reader a small sense that they, too, could possibly be inhabited by a sentient alien being. It’s a stretch, but the thought stayed in the back of my mind and it made the book that much more enjoyable.
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