Review: This Is How You Lose the Time War

Burn before reading.

A time travelling, spy versus spy, Romeo and Juliet-esqe love story with each of the two parts written by a different author (Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone) as they travel through time and space and parallel realities, each trying to bend history and reality to the whim of their handlers… all the while trying to hide their correspondence from the same.

Books are letters in bottles, cast into the waves of time, from one person trying to save the world to another.

It’s weird, it’s wonderful. It’s hard to describe, but beautifully written. The wordplay is excellent and the love story feels romantic in the age of letters / long style courting sense of the word. And it’s funny!

PS. The keyboard’s coated with slow-acting contact poison. You’ll be dead in an hour.

PPS. Just kidding! Or . . . am I?

PPPS. I’m just screwing with you. But postscripts sure are fun!

The style is probably not for everyone–it’s two authors, part letters between the two agents and part their context and missions and thoughts–but give it a chance. I expect you’ll either love it or hate it, but either way, it’s worth a try.

There’s a kind of time travel in letters, isn’t there? I imagine you laughing at my small joke; I imagine you groaning; I imagine you throwing my words away. Do I have you still? Do I address empty air and the flies that will eat this carcass? You could leave me for five years, you could return never—and I have to write the rest of this not knowing.