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

There are so many ways to tell a story about war and love, and I have read and watched my fair share of such, but I have read nothing like This Is How You Lose the Time War. It’s poetic, beautiful, intriguing, compelling, and heartbreaking. I enjoyed every page. The story kept me wondering what is this about, made me imagine the bizarreness of Red and Blue (main characters and sides,) not to mention their relationship.

Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone brought the insanity of war out beautifully. They didn’t breach about war’s pointlessness or how it affects people; they brought the idea of war being another game, task, job amongst many for those involved through Red and Blue’s correspondence. Then there is the other theme, love. How fulfilling and destructive it can be. How it can give more meaning to life than anything else. How it makes us whole.

The only thing I would criticize the book for was the confusing description of the different sides of the war and what Red and Blue are and how they fulfill their assignments. You get glimpses of these through the personal recount/dialogue/letters, but it is kept as a mystery deliberately. And at first, it bothered me; I wanted to have more control, but when I let go of this obstructive notion of control and enjoyed the beauty of the story and images it provoked, I didn’t mind the extra mystery. It made everything better. Even when I’m not that keen on love stories or even war stories, this one spoke to me. If you haven’t read the book, I can highly recommend.

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