This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Publication date: 18 July 2019
Genre: Science fiction
Page count: 208 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I received a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free.
Welcome to my post for the This is How You Lose the Time War blogger blast! Check out the graphic at the bottom to see all of the posts about this book going live today.
I was immediately drawn to this book — particularly because of the phenomenal title, the gorgeous book cover, and the fact that I love time travel plots. I’ve never read anything by either of these authors so I was naturally curious about this book, and I’m so glad I gave it a try. This is How you Lose the Time War is a lyrical, poetic, bizarre, and gorgeous tale of star-crossed lovers from opposing factions of, well, a time war.
Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading.
Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more. Something epic. Something romantic. Something that could change the past and the future.
Except the discovery of their bond would mean death for each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win that war. That’s how war works. Right?
This is How You Lose the Time War has such a unique structure that suits the novella length perfectly. The clever structure is made up of disjointed scenes that flash through time that are both violent and peaceful, horrifying and comforting. Much like the relationship between Red and Blue, the landscape is ever changing and shifting. I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t necessarily follow every moment of the book, but I still really enjoyed the journey. I think sitting back and appreciating the gorgeous writing is the best way to consume this book, rather than trying to follow a linear narrative because that’s just not what it is.
The book is also interspersed with the letters Red and Blue write to each other — you see the progression of their relationship through these letters. The correspondence forms the heart of the story, allowing us to get to know these two people, their backgrounds, and their motivations. The push and pull between them, the banter, and the evolution from taunting and banter to something deeper is just wonderful — their correspondence was my favourite part of the book.
This is How You Lose the Time War is a strange and lovely tale of star-crossed lovers crossing paths across the different strands of history. I don’t think this book will be for everyone, but if you’re looking for something unique or lyrical, you should definitely pick up this book.
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