In this joint authorial project, each writer pens the letters of one of two rival agents who are hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Their unlikely correspondence across time grows into a romance that could change the past and the future—but the discovery of their bond would mean death for each of them.
El-Mohtar...and Gladstone sidestep the pitfall of the time-travel story by leaning way into the chaos of it all. They embrace the inexplicable convolutions of narrative rendered by bending time's arrow and make each chapter a vignette—a specific time, place, moment, detailing starship battles or coastal fishing villages where subtle, long games are played to shape the course of the future. But they don't traffic in the how or the why. There is no larger picture here. No grand design revealed ... El-Mohtar and Gladstone's voices as Red and Blue are dissimilar enough to give each a flavor, yet enough alike that there's an almost alien sense of dislocation about them ... And the thrill of This Is How You Lose The Time War suddenly becomes not the time travel, not the war, not any of those things that no one could ever describe anyway, but just the connection between two lonely professional killers with the ability to inscribe letters on lava.
What unfolds is a twisting, sapphic time travel fantasy love story that never stops surprising: El-Mohtar and Gladstone have written the ultimate in enemies-to-lovers romance, but with an intricate layer of lush, uncanny descriptions of the fantastic strands the agents are shifting; not to mention a careful net of time travel and parallel universes. This suspenseful novel is a superb realization of a difficult concept bulging with details: a time travel rival-secret-agent epistolary romance interspersed with descriptions of fascinating secret missions. Readers will reach the end and want to turn back to the start.
This stunning, semi-epistolary tale by coauthors El-Mohtar...and Gladstone...is a seamless story of time travel, sparring opponents, and the revelations of serving a cause. To unlock the complexities of language and plot here, readers will want to return to this book, with each read revealing a little more of its near-limitless substance.