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This Is How You Lose the Time War

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3.96  ·  Rating details ·  27,862 ratings  ·  6,363 reviews
Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading. Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more. Something epic. Something romantic. Something that co ...more
Kindle Edition, 209 pages
Published July 16th 2019 by Saga Press
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Amal El-Mohtar Well! The book's been optioned for television and Max and I are drafting a pilot of the first episode, so -- hopefully, though in a different medium!

T…more
Well! The book's been optioned for television and Max and I are drafting a pilot of the first episode, so -- hopefully, though in a different medium!

Though I can highly recommend Scott Lynch's fanfic to tide you over in the meantime: https://archiveofourown.org/works/202...(less)
Amal El-Mohtar Great question! The red one is a cardinal and the blue one is an Ultramarine Flycatcher, according to Greg Stadnyk who designed the cover. (I kept thi…moreGreat question! The red one is a cardinal and the blue one is an Ultramarine Flycatcher, according to Greg Stadnyk who designed the cover. (I kept thinking it was either a bluebird or tree swallow, but I was incorrect!)(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.96  · 
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 ·  27,862 ratings  ·  6,363 reviews


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chai ♡
“You asked me to tell truths. I have. What do I want? Understanding. Exchange. Victory. A game—hiding and discovery. You’re a swift opponent, Blue. You play long odds. You run the table. If we’re to be at war, we might as well entertain one another.”


This Is How You Lose the Time War is the kind of novel that dips in and out of minds, catches the sharp sun of memory and gleams, leaves its scent on its readers, like perfume transferred between lovers. As soon as you start to put more words in,
...more
Cindy Pham
Jun 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is the most fun I’ve had reading this writing style in a while! It’s such a creative, abstract, lyrical, and well-written love story that not only did I re-listen to each chapter twice on audiobook, but I also ended up borrowing the ebook just so that I could digest the writing via my eyeballs. There were many sensory experiences and beautifully crafted letters. The cat-and-mouse game between the two female protagonists is fun to read and the intimacy that builds up between them just by the ...more
Victoria Schwab
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Holy shit this was good.
Riley
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Killing Eve but they are time traveling pen pals
Melanie

(This was such a thoughtful gift from Melissa!)

this was so perfect i had to reread it again.... and it was even more perfect the second time around. ❤

Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Youtube | Twitch

Buddy read with Lea! ❤
...more
Philip
2ish stars.

What it comes down to is that I'm simply not enough of a romantic to enjoy this book. The appeal lies squarely in the flowery language written in love poems between two post-human women on opposite sides of a time travel war. I just happen to find love poetry more pretentious and mawkish than amorous or emotive. (Can it even really be considered romantic when one character addresses the other as "Dearest Blue-da-ba-dee?")

The rest of the book (characters, setting, plot) is left intenti
...more
Elle (TheBookishActress)
Congratulations to the 2020 Hugo winner for best novella!

But when I think of you, I want to be alone together. I want to strive against and for. I want to live in contact. I want to be a context for you, and you for me.

I love you, and I love you, and I want to find out what that means together.

This Is How You Lose the Time War is about two women, Red and Blue, on opposite sides of a time war, as they fall in love with each other via love letters. It… was a lot to process. This is mo
...more
Bradley
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Re-Read 12/17/19:

I've been thinking about this novella for months since I read it last. It just kept sticking to the roof of my mouth and I loved the flavor sooo much. :)

It's poetry. A tragic romance written as a super-hard-SF spy vs spy. And it's poetry. :)

I LOVE this so much.



Original review:

Damn excellent SF novella. I won't have any problems nominating this for next year's Hugo. It's poetical, yo. Not only poetical, but delightfully unforced in its romance... even as the time war rages betwe
...more
Mackenzi
Nov 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
lol okay then guess I'll just quit writing forever because I will never produce something this gorgeous.
Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)
This is a book so beautifully written and perfectly conceived that I know any words I write about it will pale in comparison. If you want an ambitious, complex, utterly unique romeo and juliet f/f romance set amidst a centuries long time war (and how could you not want that?) then this is the book for you. I want this entire book tattooed over every inch of my body so that I can remember every single word forever.
may ➹
this book is very confusing because there are lines like “Dearest, deepest Blue— At the end as at the start, and through all the in-betweens, I love you” that make you think, simply, oh......

and then there’s the fact that I had no idea what the hell was going on
emma
Jul 16, 2020 marked it as to-read
i'm a simple girl. i hear sapphic time travel, i add to my tbr
Cecily
"All good stories travel from the outside."

This is a passionate, genre-storming prose poem about temptation and the paradox of opposites that are not: of hunter and prey, tempter and victim - one and the same.

I want to chase you, find you, I want to be eluded and teased and adored; I want to be defeated and victorious - I want you to cut me, sharpen me.

Irresistible

The first temptation is to defy the instruction to "Burn before reading", and the climax hinges on whether or not to succumb to t
...more
Matthew
Wow! Whether you end up enjoying this book or not, I think you will have to admit it is a very unique and poetic approach to such a dark and gritty sci-fi war drama. In fact, I am not sure that everyone that finds themselves usually enjoying sci-fi will enjoy this one because it is not what you would normally expect.

I really liked this book overall. I cannot say that in the end I understood everything that happened, but I think that is okay in this case. The poetry, the character development, an
...more
Emily
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi, short-story
Almost all my Goodread friends are raving about this. I just didn't like it. I never really understood why the characters fell in love, there's no explanation about what is really going on with the two sides and the writing style was just too... "extra" for me. It's very literary and poetic, it's all words and not much substance. It just wasn't for me.
Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
DNF @20%: I totally see where everyone is coming from saying that this book is beautifully written, but the plot just wasn't for me (and that's okay!).
Boston
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Despite struggling for the first 50 pages, I eventually got into the flow of this book and I absolutely fell in love.
Every single sentence of every letter made me want to burst into tears. The writing of this was the most poetic, lyrical writing I have EVER read.
Despite barely knowing blue and red (and only knowing them for 200 pages), they become people I can think of say “I know them”.
To say this book is amazing is an understatement and I’m so glad I pushed through the beginning.
Meagan ✊🏼 Blacklivesmatter ✊🏼Blacktranslivesmatter
Fucking brilliant! I loved every second! I admit there were some things I struggled with, but nothing a reread can't fix 😊.
Billie
Apr 29, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay. So. Hmm. I loved the love story aspect of it and generally got the gist of what was going on, but there was some big-picture world building that either went completely over my head (likely) or was missing (possible). Being dumped into the middle of a story that has been going on, off the page, for who-knows-how-long can be disorienting. And maybe it was meant to be. Or maybe I'm just not smart enough for this book. Or maybe it was a mis-step on the part of the authors. Whatever the reason ...more
Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
Feb 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: year-2020, 2-star, lgbt
Actual Rating: 1.5 Stars

Well I’m incredibly sad that I didn’t enjoy this more given all the rave reviews & what sounded like a super intriguing premise.

Agents of two opposing factions, time traveling through what is described as “braids” of alternate realities & dimensions, falling in love against their better judgement. Also they’re queer. Literally no part of this premise sounds bad to me.

Unfortunately it’s the execution of this idea that sends this book into a nosedive for me.

Normally I don’t
...more
C.G. Drews
I honestly did not understand this a bit, but the pure aching sapphic love letters (going from sharp and teasing to absolute yearning and love wrenched wanting) were things of excellence 😭👌🏻
TraceyL
This book made me feel really dumb. I don't think it was the book's fault. The combination of high science fiction with poetic literary fiction just didn't click together in my brain. There was never a point in this book where I knew what was going on. I just finished it and have no idea what happened in it.
Nataliya
May 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
A divide - organic or artificial, no matter - sometimes seems made for reaching out across, for sifting through the abyss of difference to find the threads that braid us together.

This is a story we crave - of bridging the gap, of mending the rift, of star-crossed lovers surmounting the insurmountable.
“She climbs upthread and down; she braids and unbraids history’s hair.
Red rarely sleeps, but when she does, she lies still, eyes closed in the dark, and lets herself see lapis, taste iris petals
...more
Kayla Dawn
Feb 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
This was odd and I'm sure I didn't understand it fully, but I loved it nonetheless.
Spencer Orey
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Really dense time-travel love story novella packed with wonderful writing that focuses on sensory experiences.

There were parts that felt like filler, included in the book more for the beauty of language than anything to do with the plot or story. The episodic structure also made it hard for me to keep focused, since the real story seemed to be unfolding in the letters that punctuated each episode. All of that meant I tended to pick up and put down the book a lot more than I would have otherwise.
...more
Charlotte
"I want to chase you, find you, I want to be eluded and teased and adored; I want to be defeated and victorious—I want you to cut me, sharpen me."

Hello and welcome to my review of 2019's novella This is How you Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. Also known as the review where my bad opinions are made manifest because apparently everyone loved this book except for me!

So What's It About? (from Goodreads)

Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter
...more
carol.
May 23, 2020 marked it as don-t-count
Another one for the Not-A-Review files:

Seems doubtful.

One, I've always been iffy about the epistolary format, which is pretty odd, considering the volumes of letters I've written over my life. (Literally. One friend and I filled a two-inch three-ring binder at college). I mean, maybe that's why; it's too personal to be appropriate to what I feel a story needs. In a lot of letters, there's the weight of history behind them. This set-up, perhaps, could transcend the form, but still, ultimately, t
...more
☙ nemo ❧
"This feels like teetering on the brink of something that will unmake me."

utterly impossibly, this book managed to exceed my expectations. do not take me lightly when i say i expected this book to be a masterpiece. and it was more.

literary genre fiction is something so rare it's sometimes considered impossible. This Is How You Lose The Time War laughs in the face of critics who disparage science-fiction, and it is not literary and poetic in spite of being science-fiction, it is entirely both.
...more
Katie (never.ending.reading.list)
Okay, this one was just meh for me. I could not get into it at all!

The love story between Red and Blue was nice and surprising but it just fell flat for me. I had very little invested into this world and their building romance was not enough to draw me into it.

I liked the time travel aspect with the jumping from such two extremes. It was fun and unique but I wish the authors would have done so much more with it. It had some promise but did not deliver.

The writing was beautiful and the premise
...more
unknown
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A time travel romance with teeth sharp enough to tear out your still-beating heart.
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Book to the Future!: July 2020: This Is How You Lose the Time War 9 15 Aug 01, 2020 11:48AM  

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“I want to be a body for you. I want to chase you, find you, I want to be eluded and teased and adored; I want to be defeated and victorious—I want you to cut me, sharpen me. I want to drink tea beside you in ten years or a thousand. Flowers grow far away on a planet they’ll call Cephalus, and these flowers bloom once a century, when the living star and its black-hole binary enter conjunction.I want to fix you a bouquet of them, gathered across eight hundred thousand years, so you can draw our whole engagement in a single breath, all the ages we’ve shaped together.” 97 likes
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