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This Is How You Lose the Time War

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4.06  ·  Rating details ·  12,056 ratings  ·  2,951 reviews
Two time-traveling agents from warring futures, working their way through the past, begin to exchange letters—and fall in love in this thrilling and romantic book from award-winning authors Amal-El Mohtar and Max Gladstone.

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
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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!

…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…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 4.06  · 
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Chaima ✨ شيماء
“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,
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Victoria Schwab
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Holy shit this was good.
Melanie

(This was such a thoughtful gift from Melissa!)

Perfect first book of the year and decade! Full review soon, bbies!

Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Youtube | Twitch

Buddy read with Lea!
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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
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Riley
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Killing Eve but they are time traveling pen pals
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
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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.
MeaganCM
Fucking brilliant! I loved every second! I admit there were some things I struggled with, but nothing a reread can't fix . ...more
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.
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☙ percy ❧
"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.
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Acqua
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars

This Is How You Lose the Time War is a novella about a love that transcends time, space and humanity. It's beautiful and lyrical and heartbreaking; it's all of these things and I loved its ending so much that I don't feel like I can do this story justice with a review. Just know that, while this is an epistolary f/f enemies-to-lovers story set during a time-travel war, calling it that feels almost reductive.

It follows two entities, "Red" and "Blue", both presenting as women but who
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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
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.
Jenna
Dec 23, 2019 marked it as abandoned
Flowery romantic nonsense. My eyes ache from looking at this gibberish. 31 pages and I'm ready to spew. My poor Kindle feels TAINTED from this stupidity, ugh!
Tracey
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.
rin ( ̄ヘ ̄)	 read/watch mo dao zu shi
i wish i liked it more but it's a little too poetic for me i guess? im not into this type of prose much
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.
Rose
May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’ll tell you right upfront, this book is not for everyone. Hard sci-fi readers may be disappointed because even though this book is dependant on time travel, it is more about love and told very poetically.

The story begins at the end of a battle. Our two main characters are the top agents for each side: Red from the technology enhanced future versus Blue from the environmental future (these descriptions are subject to my own interpretation as the truth was slightly vague in the story).
A message
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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
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Hiu Gregg
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-releases
Well, shit.
Trish
Dec 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A poetically beautiful tale of two agents - one called Red, the other called Blue - working for agencies manipulating all timelines known. Humanity (if they really are human) has come a long way, technology-wise. The agencies (Commandant and Garden) are quite different, from their approach to the conflict as much as their internal structure. And yet, they are also similar enough that they might actually be the same.
Red and Blue meet in the field, both immersing themselves at different points in
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Steve
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oooooooohhh, I liked this one!

Yes, yes, I was optimistic going in due to the early buzz.... And, yes, the cover looked (and, frankly, felt) really good ... although I came to appreciate the cover more as the book progressed. (Sublime!) But the hook was set early, the momentum never lagged, the prose was lyrical, the platform was creative, the twists and turns melded nicely, and the whole package was ultimately wrapped up in an elegant two-toned (red and blue) bow. Aaaaahhh, this is why I read
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Hollis
This is a book that was recommended to me by every friend who read it. The hype was real, the library wait was long, and the book itself was short. My feelings, however, are hard to pin down.

Like Chamber’s TO BE TAUGHT, IF FORTUNATE this is a short sci-fi novella, that I would describe as a thought provoking slowburn. This one is far more romantic than the aforementioned story, but the telling of it feels similar, even if the subject differs hugely.

This was at turns way over my head complex,
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Emma
Aug 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
“Some things are more important than winning”

This was a very beautiful love story. It was also difficult to make sense of, but very original.
Gerhard
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow. This book proves it again (and again, depending what timeline you’re in): SF is not about genre tropes, all of which have been done to death and back again, but what unique spin or take that the author(s) adopt.

This short novel has such a deceptively simple premise: Two time-travelling agents from warring futures, working their way through the past, begin to exchange letters … and realise that they’ve fallen in love. Or is it a long con on the part of one or the other? And is this a war of
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Rebecca Roanhorse
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
I actually finished this short book (200p) in one sitting on July 15th, but am just now getting to the review. This is a novella told in letters between two time-traveling operatives in the future, and it's more poetry than prose. It's a love story, too, so it's fitting that this book is poetic and visual and often sensual in its word choice (not it's content). A lovely fugue, a way to spend a few hours in another world and time, and a renewal of hope, and a testament to love. The worldbuilding ...more
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.
Skip
Aug 08, 2019 rated it did not like it
Abominable. No plot, amorphous and underdeveloped characters, skipping around in time. Impossible to follow. Told through a series of vignettes about and letters between Red and Blue. Choppy sentences. Run away. Quickly.
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