Time Travel and Epic Love: My This Is How You Lose the Time War Review

So, you want Ivy by Taylor Swift in book form? And make it gay? With time travel? Well buckle up, cause I have the book recommendation for you!

Book Title: This Is How You Lose the Time War
Author: Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
Publisher/Year: Gallery/Saga Press, 2019
Genre: Science Fiction
Number of Pages (According to Goodreads): 224
My Rating: 5 out of 5

Book description (from Goodreads):

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. 

Light on the Worldbuilding, Heavy on the Romance

The world of this adult sci-fi novella feels much more expansive than what we see in the actual story. We DO know that only one of the two empires fighting the titular Time War will ultimately take over the universe. And it’s up to each side’s agents to travel through time and mess with the timeline just enough to ensure their side wins.

But we only get glimpses of what the two sides are like, and we certainly don’t get full explanations of how the time travel works or all the different timelines.

What we get is an epic enemies-to-lovers sapphic romance between Red, who works for the tech utopia of The Agency, and Blue, who works for the biopunk paradise of The Garden. The two agents start writing letters to taunt each other as they travel throughout time and space, but end up falling in love instead 😍

… Which is disastrous, because if their employers find out they’re consorting with the enemy, they’ll be toast.

Let's Get Poetical

Usually I’m dying to find out more about a sci-fi world, but this time I was more than happy to let my imagination fill in the gaps. The story is told in vignettes of Red and Blue discovering each other’s letters in unlikely places, and the text of the letters themselves.

The writing is poetic and a little dense at times, but the short length made it more than manageable for me. Overall, this is a passionate, thrilling love story that kept me hooked all the way to the gut-wrenching ending!

Trigger and Content Warnings for This Is How You Lose the Time War

This book may not be for you if you're sensitive to discussions/depictions of animal killing, gore, self-harm, torture, war, violence, and mentions of self-harm and rape.

Final Thoughts

Long story short, if you're in the market for a short literary-leaning sci-fi book with an awesome premise and romance, you NEED this novella in your life!

This Is How You Lose the Time War is available everywhere, so check out the links below if you want to snag your own copy:

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