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

Hello everyone! Today I’m back and I’ll be talking about a somewhat popular new release that I have heard a ton of great things about lately. I thought this book was very good, but I don’t think I loved it as much as others seem to.

To start, I did enjoy the story, but I thought the plot was way too slow due to the nature of the writing style. I thought it was interesting how we never really got clear answers about the world and how the two societies came to be and why they were at war. I also feel like I didn’t understand exactly why they were at war and what each side was trying to accomplish. And for me I have to be in the mood I guess to read a book that doesn’t give you all the answers. I definitely prefer stories in which I get at least some answers.

I do, however, have to hand it to the two authors for writing a book that is perfectly suited to be co-written. Normally I tend to stay away from books that are co-written because I feel like it is very difficult to do well and make it a cohesive work, but these two men have done an excellent job. This book is essentially two characters and their correspondence with each other. They begin as enemies and gradually fall in love with each other as they fight on opposing sides, coming up with increasingly creative ways to deliver their letters.

The biggest issue I had with this story is that the two characters were perpetually using she/her pronouns. The way that these characters described themselves was a more like, I dunno, almost genderless? Possibly non-binary, or gender-fluid, but I do not know enough about the other genders to make a definitive statement. I mean, these are two characters that are supposedly “created” by their respective overlords (?) for the sole purpose of being some sort of secret agent. They infiltrate different timelines, which they call threads in a braid, and inhabit the bodies of the sentient creatures that live there. They inhabit the bodies of men, women, and animals in the timelines. So the fact that the characters identified as women, or at least used she/her pronouns, seemed weird to me.

Of course, I just read the book in snatches while I was on my break at work, and may have completely missed something huge. Some questions I was left with are how do Red and Blue present while in their home strands? Do they still appear in a human shape which is why they identify as women? Are the two societies just advanced, more evolved species of humans that just developed the abilities that we see Red and Blue using throughout the book?

I don’t know! And as it seems like this book will definitely be a stand-alone, I don’t think I ever will know. I rented this book from my library but will definitely be getting a physical copy at some point for my collection. I also foresee me re-reading this book at least once, because I feel like this is the kind of book that you learn something new every time you read it.

Let me know if any of you have read this book and what you thought. What were your opinions on the pronouns of our two main characters? Do you think I missed the mark entirely, and if so, please let me know your interpretation of the two of them!

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