"This is How You Lose the Time War" review


Title: This is How You Lose the Time War

Author: Amal El-Mohtar, Max Gladstone

Subgenre: Science fiction, romance

2021 Bingo squares: Book club, Genre mashup

Recommend: If you want a romance novel, not if you want a time travel novel

Stars: 3/5


This is How You Lose the Time War is not really about a time war. There is a time war contained in it, and if I’m being generous, I can say that there is a plot that involves time travel and a war, but this book is not about a time war. It’s unapologetically a romance told in letters between two women who start out as strangers and then almost immediately become pen-pal lovers in what was to me an unbelievably short correspondence period (I hesitate to use the phrase “period of time” given the context).

Amidst these letters, there’s some vignettes about opposing “time war” battle plans that the two are carrying out for their respective sides. These are genuinely cool, and I really enjoyed them for the first third-or-so of the novel, until they stopped happening. And the little tiny bit of plot that happens at the end is also pretty cool. But I just could not make myself care about the romance at all, and this is most definitely a romance novel with a bit of science fiction, and not the other way around. If you want to read a romance novel, you’ll probably enjoy it quite a bit, but only read this if that’s what you want.

Cover of This is How You Lose the Time War

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River is a MediaWiki developer and admins Leaguepedia. This blog contains her fantasy novel reviews.