Book Review | This is How You Lose the Time War, Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Goodreads Blurb:

Two time-traveling agents from warring futures, working their way through the past, begin to exchange letters—and fall in love in this thrilling and romantic book from award-winning authors Amal-El Mohtar and Max Gladstone.

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?

My Thoughts:

This one was recommended to me by a friend and she was absolutely right in doing so. This is How You Lose the Time War was such an incredible read! Going into this I didn’t have any expectations, nor did I really know much about it, but I think that gave the novel the space to do what it needed to do. It is hard to put into words my feelings on this novel, as it is one which illuminates the power of words and their meaning beyond the surface. One of the characters notes at one point how words themselves, with their power to describe and create – can also compress. This is something I do not wish to do with my own review, so I will be brief, and I encourage you to pick this one up yourself.

At it’s heart, This is How You Lose the Time War is an epic, slow burn romance. It forges a love story through time as a game of tag neither side wants to end. As the novel progresses and the game continues, it becomes something more than either side could have expected. The game of tag comes in the form of forbidden letters, hidden in signs and symbols meant for the gaze of the main characters Red and Blue.

The language throughout this novel is rich, and almost fierce, but delicate when needed. It is poetic, lyrical, and it noticeably grows in passion as the story progresses. The words used both in the letters and as descriptors are almost tangible in the way that they bring the thoughts and feelings of the characters to the forefront. As I read, I could feel the urgency and the longing through the words and the way that they were collected together.

The novel itself is short, but to me it felt as if there was so much more that I read within the story than the near 200 pages the book held. This novel was a beautiful read, and for me, a lesson in language, and the power and emotion it can hold. I finished this last night, but I can still feel the words on my mind hours after I have closed the book. This is How You Lose the Time War really is something special.

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