Title: This is how you lose the time war || Author: Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone|| Audiobook Narrator: Emily Woo Zeller, Cynthia Farrell|| Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Time Travel, LGBT || Publisher: Quercus || Year of publication: 2019|| No. of pages: 208|| Available at , Bookdepository and

This is the story of Red and Blue, two time-traveling agents from warring futures, who while working their way through the past, start to exchange letters—and fall in love.

Books are letters in bottles, cast into the waves of time, from one person trying to save the world to another

Several elements made this book a truly unique reading experience. For starters this story takes place in various locations at different points in time and within alternate versions of earth. As complicated as this seems it resulted in worldbuilding that was at times as familiar as it was foreign, leaving much open to the readers interpretation.

Then there are these factions, the Agency and the Garden, warring for control of the future. Their civilizations are not explored in great detail, but just enough to make sense of the ways in which Red and Blue differ. Red is an operative for the Agency, a faction that is tech-driven and reports to the Commandant. Blue is an operative for and reports to the Garden, a faction that is best described as an ecologically or botanically sustained community. Both Red and Blue identify as women and as they travel up and down the threads of time, it becomes clear that they’re not human. Because this is mostly an epistolary narrative the technical and botanical elements are important to keep in mind. These elements help to discern between Red and Blue’s point of view as well as their narrative voice.

Ultimately, there are the resourceful ways in which Red and Blue are forced to communicate, for it’s treason to be in contact with the enemy. Our protagonists go to great lengths to craft these vividly illustrated ‘letters’. That their creations reveal more about Red and Blue’s feelings for each other than the messages they carry, is easily the most intriguing part of this sci-fi romance.

Knowing award-winning authors Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone penned this book, to me, equaled thrilling sci-fi adventure and glorious prose. Suffices to say I was not disappointed. Nevertheless, this book will not appeal to everybody. If you are into exquisite turn of phrase, give it a go but 208 pages will feel like 802 if lyrical prose doesn’t excite you. Although time travel is important, the hard sci-fi that comes with it is diluted to the bare minimum to give center stage to romance. Yes ROMANCE.

Verdict = ☆☆☆☆

If all of the aforementioned sounds confusing, pay it no mind…cause I promise it totally works. Even though this book was far from accessible and one needs to read it twice to absorb, savour and grasp what is being offered, it most certainly was one of the most enthralling.

I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This Is How You Lose The Time War was released on 18th of July.


☆ = bad | ☆☆ = okay-ish | ☆☆☆ = fun | ☆☆☆☆ = amazing | ☆☆☆☆☆ = exceptional




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