Book Review

Review: This is How You Lose the Time War

This. This was good. I finished reading This is How You Lose the Time War on Saturday and have had to take a brief reading break to 1) pack boxes for a house move and 2) get over how good this was.


Title: This is How You Lose the Time War
Authors: Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
Pages: 208
Publication Date: 16th July 2019
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books

Red is a member of the Agency, led by the Commandant, a entity of technology and determined to rewrite the timeline in its own favour. Blue was nurtured by the Garden, a rival agent in a war that spans countless centuries and endless timelines. This is the time war – a fight for dominance between equals and opposites. These two agents fight both the long and the short game – a quick murder here, a change of direction there, or influencing entire cultures in order to gain a brief victory.

Then, after one mission, Red finds a letter marked ‘burn before reading’ and an unlikely correspondance, written across the stars and entire universes, begins between these two rivals.

What I particularly loved about this novella was the imagination involved on so many levels – creating worlds that were both similar and different to our own, one based in a distant history, the another in the stars – and the myriad of creative ways that Red and Blue used them to communicate.

And beyond that is the lyrical, building romance between Red and Blue. Not only does it make me happy that this is a f/f romance, but on the other hand it makes no difference to the quality of the story whether they were m/m, robot/robot or any other combination – it’s about two beings from opposite sides that are so different that they are the same. And finding that connection that you didn’t realise your were missing , even though they are off-limits (opposing factions in a war than spans the whole of time), can change from enemies to romance.

More importantly, it’s admiration for each other as enemies, turning to romance, but done well.

I also loved that this sci fi romance novella could manage all of that on the barest outline of imagination – so much of TIHYLTTW is based around the reader’s imagination too – it almost doesn’t matter what the politics are around the Agency and Garden, or how strings and strands and threads and braids work – they add to the fairytale glow and imaginative creativity that is down to the reader to embrace.

Five glorious stars – and an eagerness to read again (although I shouldn’t just yet).


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