“Time War” book review

Christine Hilario, A&E Writer

Everyone loves a good enemies-to-lovers story.

“This Is How You Lose the Time War” by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone follows Red and Blue, two enemy agents from opposing timelines. Red hails from a polished, technology driven future society, while in Blue’s alternate timeline, nature reigns. Only one of their societies can exist, so Red and Blue are sent on missions to the past to ensure that their timeline prevails over the other. However,fulfilling their duties becomesmore complicated when Red and Blue start secretly sending letters to each other. They slowly develop a friendship, which turns into something more.

The strongest part of this novella is its writing. The poetic writing style is lush and vivid.The imagery of the differenttimelines and settings Red and Blue visit is conveyed expressively, in a manner thatis different from any other sci-fi book I have read. It is also ashort read at around 200 pages,making it very easy to finish.

However, I believe this bookis more style over substance. Due to the complex timelinesand flowery writing style, it is occasionally difficult to puzzleout what exactly is going on. The missions to the past that Blue and Red are sent on areill-defined because the main focus is on Red and Blue’s relationship, as opposed to explaining what they are doing in the past. Also, the societies that Red and Blue come from are underdeveloped because they are only mentioned in passing in Red and Blue’s letters.

In addition I found it difficultto care about the two main characters and their relationship. Red and Blue do not have solid motivations or goals besidesworking for their respectiveempires and eventually falling for each other. Their relationshipfeels a bit shaky as well becausethey hardly ever interact with each other in person and almost solely communicate through their letters. Although,I do find the format of theletters to be creative, sincethey send letters through fire, flowers and even a volcano.

“This Is How You Losethe Time War” is a book withbeautiful writing and not much else. I enjoyed it, but it is not for everyone. I recommend thisfor people who find this timetravel concept interesting or enjoy a solid enemies-to-loversstory. I give this book 3/5 stars.