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  • ★★★-3.5

Review: This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone (Spoiler-Free)

I want to meet you in every place I have loved.

This is How You Lose the Time War is poetry in the form of a novel, and unfortunately I am too pea-brained to understand half of it. Between every soul-shredding quote is a lot of head scratching. I know there's a love story at the heart of this thing, and it's beautiful and sapphic and all-consuming. But outside of that story, outside of the letters exchanged between Blue and Red, the titular time war is very confusing. It's probably supposed to be that way, but when I first cracked open the book I was not prepared to be staring at words on a page instead of watching the movie my mind usually creates while reading. Pieces did start to fall into place by the halfway point and it almost makes me want to read it again to properly understand the beginning.

All that being said, this book is gorgeous. Truly one of the most effervescent texts to ever exist. And I understand why so many people are enamored by it. I understand, though I don't quite experience. Certain scenes are stuck in my mind like brambles, caught to be stumbled across again from time to time, but others were utterly incomprehensible to me. I do want to emphasize the "to me" as I think I'm not the ideal reader. I know a lot of people have the right mind to read exactly the way these authors write.

Anyway, this story is truly unique and I'm glad to have finally read it. I may not have understood a lot of the main mechanics, but I'll never forget the love between these women.

I like writing you. I like reading you. When I finish your letters, I spend frantic hours in secret composing my replies, pondering ways to send them. I can trigger any combination of chemical ups and downs with a carefully worded phrase; a factory within me will smelt any drug I seek. But there's a rush in reading and sending against which no drug compares.


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