Review: This is How You Lose the Time War

I absolutely consumed This is How You Lose The Time War. I threw it back in about two days, which is fast for this poky reader. From the jump, the reader is immersed in a page-turning, action-filled romance/adventure that warps your mind while it melts your heart.

The construction of the story is as novel as the content. The co-authors El-Mohtar and Gladstone each take the voice of one of the two spies as they exchange letters through time and space. This gives each half of their evolving conversations a distinct voice. The book itself, like the story, is a dialogue.

The Basics:

Title: This is How You Lose The Time War
Genre: Science Fiction, Romance, Adventure, Comedy
Authors: Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
Publisher: Saga Press, 2019

Spoiler-Free Summary:

Red and Blue are time-traveling super-spies from rival far-future superpowers. Their realities are polar opposites and mutually exclusive – whichever side wins, the other will have never existed. The two agents duel for the fate of reality itself… and come to deeply respect one another’s work, artist to artist. They exchange letters – taunting at first, but their tone and content transform until their relationship blossoms into something greater. Something impossible. Something dangerous.

You’ll Love This Book If…

Imagine you threw Dr. Who, Romeo and Juliet, and the James Bond franchise into a blender. The result would be something very like This is How You Lose the Time War. Or, a pulpy silicon-y mess from throwing books and DVDs into a blender. Don’t do that!

The action is snappy. Although it is not the main thrust of the book, when the authors need to deliver a punch, it is never pulled.

Even as you see quite early the direction Red and Blue’s correspondence is taking, every twist, every development remains either surprising or charming. I have never read more ways to say “I love you” in a single work. The prose is poetic – thick, luxurious, and velvety.

The romance itself twists the tension tighter. We know that the more deeply our time-hopping super-spies fall for one another, the greater their potential loss when the Time War inevitably crashes over them.

As always, happy reading, and, if it applies to you, happy writing. I defy anyone to find a similarly surprising scifi/action/romance/comedy. If you do, please drop a comment.

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