Book Review: This Is How You Lose the Time War, Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone

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

This Is How You Lose the Time War, Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Science Fiction: This Is How You Lose the Time War, Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

 

Red and Blue are agents, soldiers in a time war between two factions competing to change the past in order to secure their future. Despite their being on opposite sides of the war, they begin a correspondence which develops into a romance. The story is told in a series of vignettes alternating between the characters and the letters they exchange. And I fear that in this dry recap of an amazing book I do great violence to the authors and their story.

 

In fact, this book is beautifully written! The prose is as gorgeous as any I have read. I could go on and on, but the best thing to do is share just one paragraph with you:

 

Or: Blue (she lets herself think that name once in a two-mooned month) read her letter and recoiled. Red wrote too much too fast. Her pen had a heart inside, and the nib was a wound in a vein. She stained the page with herself. She sometimes forgets what she wrote, save that it was true, and the writing hurt. But butterfly wings break when touched. Red knows her own weaknesses as well as anyone. She presses too hard, breaks what she would embrace, tears what she would touch to her teeth.

 

That poignant, haunting, riveting prose fills the book. Blue and Red delight in coming up with pet names for each other. They find new ways to share their forbidden correspondence. They travel through time and reveal more and more of themselves to each other. And they find themselves saving the life of the other one when as soldiers they are charged with doing the exact opposite. I don’t want to give away too many spoilers, but it does not take long to figure out that these two are bound to come into conflict with their superiors. When they do, the book takes an amazing turn that must be read to be appreciated.

 

Fundamentally this is a deeply personal story of two people who find each other in the midst of impossible circumstances. How their relationship develops from antipathy and mocking to affection and love is the beauty and magic of this book. Through the vehicle of a most improbable story–a time war–we find ourselves believing in these characters and hoping they will find a way to make it work…or at least find a way not to kill each other.

 

In This Is How You Lose the Time War, you have two writers who push each other to new creative heights. Individually, each writer has won awards and accolades. Together, they have accomplished something quite unique and special.

 

This Is How You Lose the Time War, Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

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

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