Review: This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max GladstonePublisher: Saga Press
Authors: Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone
Released: July 16th, 2019
Received: BookishFirst
Rating: Kitty Rating

I received a copy of This is How You Lose the Time War through BookishFirst in exchange for a fair and honest review.

This is How You Lose the Time War wins my award for best novella for 2019. Seriously, this novella was absolutely amazing. Beautifully written, whimsical, witty, everything. I had high hopes for this one, but they sincerely exceeded them.

It’s not every day you see a novella written by two authors, so this one obviously caught my attention. It helps that I’m a fan of both Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone as well. This collaboration was so much more than I could have ever hoped for…day I say that I hope we see more from these two authors working together in the future? Because I think that needs to happen.

This is How You Lose the Time War is the tale of two rival agents. Red and Blue. They’re both fighting in the same war. But at some point, the war changed for them. Something changed. They changed.

I absolutely loved reading every page of this novella. It was beautiful and intricate, and oh so human in ways that I could only begin to explain. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Spoiler Warning

This is How You Love the Time War is without a doubt one of the most beautifully written novellas of the year. It’s eloquent and emotional, and tells the story of the threads that tie us all together.

This novella wasn’t at all what I expected. It was better. I knew it would be the tale of two agents, and based on the description, I knew that their rivalry would change into something different through the course of time. But that description doesn’t do it justice.

Part of the reason this telling worked so well was because of the storytelling techniques used. The novella switched between two perspectives, Red and Blue. But it also told the story through a series of letters and notes they exchanged. This was not only beautiful, but it helped resolve a lot of the show/tell issues.

Considering what this story turned into, I’m so happy that the element of letters was included. It took so many things that could have been considered a trope, and forged it into something new. And of course, it gave plenty of opportunity to playful banter between the two, while keeping their actual contact to a minimum.

There was a lot to love in this novella. The rivalry turned love story was there, of course. And it was powerful. But the time travel elements were fun as well. They showed a strong understanding of both time and alternate dimensions – and showed an interesting combination of the two.

What I especially loved was the comparison and contrast between the two sides. Red versus Blue. Technology versus nature. Traveling through time versus rooting through time. It was both intricate and intuitive. In many ways, it felt like I had been reading of this battle for years.

I was truly sad when this novella concluded. Not because the ending itself was sad – I actually loved how they finished it – but because I didn’t want to see it end. This was an absolutely brilliant read. Nothing like anything else I’ve read. Yet I find myself craving more like it.

About Liz (AKA Cat)

I am an avid animal lover, photographer, reader, and much more. While my photography blog is feeling a bit neglected at the moment, the other sites I'm involved in are going strong. ✧I review books, comics, and basically anything else in the literary world over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks (of Books). ✧I review comics and books, as well as write content for Word of the Nerd. ✧I review comics for Monkeys Fighting Robots. ✧I write content for Screen Rant and CBR. ✧I write book reviews for The Review Crew.
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