You guys, Wesley Chu is some sort of sci-fi/action wizard. As I’ve said often on here before, his Tao series is fantastic – I loved all three books and the novella that came out after. I was SUPER psyched when I found out that he was starting a new follow-up series – the events take place in the same world and chronologically after the first series, but follow a new main character. You don’t have to read the Tao series to read The Rise of Io – it’s helpful, but you can definitely start here if you want.
The Rise of Io follows a young, abrasive woman named Ella Patel – she’s a talented con-artist and thief struggling to keep her head above water in one of the poorest sections of India, recently ravaged by the alien war between the Genjix and Prophus. Hoping for a reward, she jumps in to help in a fight and then she’s inhabited by Io – an unimpressive Prophus alien who now has to get Ella trained and integrated as an agent, in an area of the world with no tactical support. Ella is not happy about the alien sharing her head, and her and Io are set to clash heads while trying to complete Io’s mission.
Ella is a riot – she’s crafty, mean, and a fabulous opportunist but she’s got a kind heart. I loved how ornery she is with Io – it’s exactly how you’d expect someone to react to an alien suddenly in their head and able to read their mind. She’s not shy about voicing her resentment. Io is an interesting alien – in contrast to Tao from the earlier books, she’s not accomplished much in her millennia on Earth. Her military ventures have been failures, and her hosts mostly insignificant. Even so, her cunning is noteworthy and her frustrations with Ella have some merit to them. Ella and Io have to try to work as a team, but it’s on shaky ground.
I admit to feeling a bit of hesitation going in, because add-ons to a beloved series can always be tricky. These are new characters, but would the story feel stale? Would the plot follow the same formula? I had nothing to worry about – Wesley Chu’s ability to write fast-paced action, entertaining characters, and new plot twists is a thing to marvel at. The Rise of Io will be released on October 4th, but I’m already searching for news about the next book.