This is How You Lose the Time War, by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone, for Timeslip Tuesday

This is How You Lose the Time War, by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone (July 2019, Gallery / Saga Pres), is an epistolary love story between two agents (Red and Blue) on either side of a time war that stretches millennia in both directions.  Red and Blue are skilled at manipulating the strings of time, braiding them into patterns that will result in the desired outcomes of the two very different futures that spawned them.

But when they begin a correspondence that starts as a taunting challenge, they find that they are braiding themselves together, tugging each other toward a future that seems impossible.

It's not a doorstopper of a book (198 pages), so I thought it would be a fast read, but it's not, because all the words deserve consideration, and it's so rich in literary allusions and historical details and epistolary conceits that it demands to be savored.  It' s a very complicated sort of time travel (constant back and forth manipulation of history can make my head spin), and I wasn't sure I'd be able to keep my mental footing secure, but it's a very simple story of two lonely women learning to value, then trust, then love each other passionatly, and their two distinct selves kept me grounded.

In short, it's a very good, very strange, very sweet book.

It's written for grown-ups, but the theme of finding who one is amidst the trappings impossed on us by birth and rearing is one I imagine teens finding very appealing.


  1. I keep seeing this and wondering whether I'll like it. I can do strange and sweet.

    1. Jenny (see comment below) didn't much, and I trust her opinion just about as much as I trust my own, so I dunno what to say!

  2. I wanted to like this book so much more than I did like it -- the conceit of it was great, and I love time travel and I love romance, but the writing just wasn't working for me. :/

    1. Sometimes my mind gets fixed on the technicalities of the writing, and sometimes it doesn't...in this case it didn't, which is always more restful!


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