Book Review: This is How You Lose the Time War

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone



I’m not sure if I’m reeling from that ending or how the entire book wove and threaded and braided its way into my heart and soul, and how I fell hard for Red and Blue and their long games.

It all begins with ruthless agent of the Agency Red finds a letter that reads, “Burn before reading.” In it, she finds a taunt, a challenge—her greatest foe has revealed herself. And off she goes in a cat and cat game of win-lose-win, sneaky subterfuge and long and short games of chance and espionage with her enemy, Blue, agent of the Garden.

But slowly, throughout the years and strands of time and different worlds, their relationship turns into something else. Is it love? Or are they both playing each other to get their side to win? But their time together is running out. Something is following them.

Fuck I loved this. It kept twisting and turning so deliciously, with little seeds planted and grown throughout until the grand reveal at the end.

And their letters! They started with so much humor and taunting and that competition blossomed into something more—or is it??—and even their relationship was filled with so many twisty-turny ahas that you never really quite know if their feelings are sincere or just another play to get their side to win.

The letters were definitely my favorite part, and this is my absolute favorite quote of the entire book because it captures their initial feelings so well.

Ha-a Blueser. Your mission objective’s in another castle.

Hugs and kisses,


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

So think of this as Spy Vs Spy meets Romeo and Juliet, with two time-crossed spies meeting on a battlefield and engaging in a secret correspondence romance despite being diametrically opposed foes.

Also, maybe it’s just me but I felt heavy allusions to Red vs Blue, which is hilarious and should be watched by everyone who played video games in the early 2000s (specifically old Halo). Or maybe it’s the plot of The Lake House, but with science fiction, Advanced Robotics vs Advanced Gardening, and spies, and without the bad haircuts and Keanu Reeves.

Anywho, if you enjoy time travel, sapphic romance, spy shit, lyrical writing, slow burn romance and madcap capers throughout time, this is a must read.

Also, I must get a copy of the comedy-version of Romeo and Juliet. Anyone wanna hook me up?

I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.

Note: links on captions note where I got the meme from 🙂

6 thoughts on “Book Review: This is How You Lose the Time War

  1. I’m so glad you liked this one too! I didn’t always love it while I was reading it – it was beautifully written, but the style was a bit to heavy for me at times? – but when I got to that ending, I couldn’t not give it five stars. At first I was wondering whether I loved it just because of the ending, too, but… I mean, it did make me see all of the book in a completely new light.
    (also I love the memes. Linear time who?)
    Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

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