Book Review: This Is How You Lose the Time War, by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

How would you love someone on the opposite side of a war from you? How would you do it if your commanders could literally read your thoughts and know if you were consorting or even thinking about consorting with the enemy?

*This Is How You Lose the Time War* aims to answer that question, in a wonderful short novel that reads almost more, at times, like romantic poetry than it does genre fiction.

Honestly, what sci-fi is there is present just to provide the loose conceits necessary to weave what becomes a pretty mind-bending love story by the end of it all. Brief snippets of impossible but, in this story, assumed technologies are hinted at, used, and dispatched in a paragraph or two, in a way that will infuriate the typical hard-sci-fi fan that wants detailed explanations for how these magics actually work. That said, lovers of literature will adore how these elements are integrated into what is otherwise just a very intimate story about a relationship between two people on opposite sides of a conflict.

I don’t want to get much more into it; the joy in reading this (very short, so just read it already) novel is in how each new weird thing unfolds to the reader. It’s a very satisfying tale well told, and that should be all the recommendation you need.