Book Reviews Sarah's Reviews

Book Review: This Is How You Lose the Time War

by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Blueberry. Raspberry. Sea foam. Blood. This Is How You Lose the Time War is a new SF novella. It’s a love story told through a series of love letters threaded between a war that’s been raging for God knows how long. Red and Blue are adversaries who just happen to know how to hide a letter in a seal’s gut, a bee’s sting, a strain of poison.

Perhaps survival is its own form of torture.

They fall in love without ever having met. (Or maybe they have met.) Each creates whatever persona she wants of the other person and imagines her reading the letter, eating the seed, dying. But it’s a classic love story. A Romeo and Juliet, a love-conquers-all, a love-is-greater-than-everything cliche love story.

I like writing you. I like reading you. When I finish your letters, I spend frantic hours in secret composing my replies, pondering ways to send them. I can trigger any combination of chemical ups and downs with a carefully worded phrase; a factory within me will smelt any drug I seek. But there’s a rush in reading and sending against which no drug compares.

The story is written in prose, like poetry. It took me some time to get into it. I think the writing sort of cleared up as the book went on, though. I can’t say I really know what was going on in this book. The war and the characters? Really, I’ve got no clue. I suppose that’s not what the story is about, so maybe I’m not meant to. The kicker, though, is their fun observations as time lords. I think their musings on Atlantis were my favorite.

But if you hunger, I swell. You have me watching birds, and though I don’t know their names like you know them, I have seen small bright singers puff before they trill. That’s how I feel. I sing myself out to you, and my talons clutch the branch, and I am wrung out until your next letter gives me breath, fills me to bursting.

Overall I enjoyed reading this book. It is quick and has a lot of little quotes that sit with you throughout the day. A little too sappy sometimes, but otherwise totally relatable in that love-obsession kind of way. If you’re lonely for that insatiable love feeling, cozy on up and dive in.

Interested in reading it? Buy it on Amazon here!

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