Books, Movies, and Shows, Reviews

Review: This Is How You Lose the Time War

Title: This Is How You Lose the Time War
Author: Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone


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?

Cowritten by two beloved and award-winning sci-fi writers, This Is How You Lose the Time War is an epic love story spanning time and space.


I don’t think I’ve read a book that left me utterly blown away by its prose. And if I have, it couldn’t have been that impressive, because I don’t remember it.

This isn’t a book I’ll be forgetting any time soon.

This Is How You Lose the Time War is unlike anything I’ve ever read. It’s very much all about the characters and not really driven by a particular plot. Red and Blue are an engaging pair, with distinct, beautiful voices that pull us into their respective worlds. Their letters to each other were pure poetry, though that was expected. What I didn’t expect was for the third-person narration to also read like poetry. I can’t emphasize enough how absolutely gorgeous the writing of this book is. I started reading it for the story, for my love of the star-crossed/enemies-to-lovers trope, but I stayed for the prose itself.

The time travel and mechanics of the world was really interesting, and I wonder what it would look like put on a screen. Normally when I really like a book a part of me starts to hope it’s adapted to TV or film some day, but I can genuinely say that would completely ruin this one. I could see this as a play, maybe, in the style of Shakespeare with minimal set design/direction and just focusing on the worlds of the characters. At the end of the day, I realized I didn’t care about the specifics of time travel, or how their letter writing worked, like I normally would in a book like this. For the main characters their special abilities were just background noise, their regular day-to-day lives, and all of that became white noise in the background of their saga for me, too.

I can’t say enough how much I loved this story, and how invested I became in Red and Blue’s love. If you love star-crossed lovers waxing poetic about each other as they go from enemies to the most important people in each other’s lives, then you need to read this one.

Rating: 5/5


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