This Is How You Lose the Time War Review

This Is How You Lose the Time War Review

"This Is How You Lose the Time War" - By: Amal El-Mothtar and Max Gladstone.

I was very excited to read this book. The urge to read this was what got me back into reading recently. The cover and the premise really called to the sci-fi and romance nerd in me.

Having now read it I don’t think this book is for me. I would call it “pop sci-fi” or "sci-fi for normies". I see a lot of people seemingly confused by the story but really it’s extremely simple and fundamentally meaningless because it really doesn’t go anywhere past the love between Red and Blue. The sci-fi time agents working for enemy agencies are nothing but a loose thread that is barely touched on. Existing only to spout random meaningless techno babble to fill up pages between letters from Red and Blue.

The letters themselves are where the story of this novel takes place. The rest is filler. So much so you could completely replace it with another premise completely. They are wizards that travel between realms. Telepaths who communicate with each other through different plains. Secret agents from enemy countries performing counter-espionage. With the smallest of rewrites here and there all of these could be true and all of them fundamentally meaningless because the plot is filler for the romance.

A romance that seemingly comes out of nowhere. In one letter they are clearly enemies; in the next letter, they are snarky buds, and then - I can’t stop thinking of her, my muse, my dear indigo blue. - I mean, how? Why? Ok?

Who, what, when, where, how, and why is something the novel isn’t as interested in as I am. In moments where something truly interesting is happening, the characters would seem casually uninterested and daydream about the other. I have to sit there yelling at my Kindle begging it to please focus on the interesting thing. Finally, something interesting is happening, and - what is Red doing now I wonder? Is she thinking about me like I am thinking about her? - Please no, focus on this cool thing that’s happening!

This book is as sci-fi as the bible and reads even more dryly. It has some decent prose and I like the cover. That might be the only good thing I can say about this one. I don’t know who this is for, I just know it’s not for me. The absolute worst sci-fi I’ve ever read and one of the worst books I’ve ever read too. That being said it was inspirational to me in a way. As someone who wants to be a writer I always worry if I can do it, am I worthy? I now know if this could have fans, I will do alright.


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