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vickyagain Avatar


Ah hmm. I see why so many people like this novella, but I also just don't think I wasn't the type of person or in the right mood to appreciate this story.

There were definitely things that I liked about This Is How You Lose the Time War, but I just never felt like this was a particularly life-changing or special book, and a lot of the prose just wasn't for me. (I realize that this is a very unpopular opinion.)

The one highlight: I loved the letters between Red and Blue. I thought they were so romantic and wonderful and sweet. This was absolutely my favorite part of the whole story -- the letters hidden in all these interesting forms, showing a rivalry that buds into something else.

But. I just was not a huge fan of the non-epistolary part of the novel that showed the letters being planted and the war being executed. Maybe I'm just. Not an intellectual. Super plebeian, not smart enough to get this book, etc. etc. But I was very much not into the sections of the story that weren't letters. It felt like so many underdeveloped concepts and phrases were thrown around with no purpose other than to be pretty and to make the book seem meaningful and deep. Just things to act as a backdrop to these two factions playing God with the timelines. There was some level of historical context to it, as in like, someone who is super well informed about all of world history will be like "Ah yes. I completely understand how this specific time period was chosen to add meaning to Red and Blue's story through the authors' timeline changes." But it was also really hard to sort out what was a play on history and what was original to the work, because of the whole multiverse, time-war thing meant you couldn't really be sure what readers were supposed to bring to the work, and what the work was supposed to bring to you.

I just felt really lost in what I was supposed to gather from a lot of the worldbuilding. I got the gist of it (two factions: the Agency with its very mecha soldiers, vs. the Garden with its very wildlife soldiers, fighting to write time in a certain way), but there was so much that I didn't understand in the minutae that it just felt a lot of the details of the story either went over my head because I specifically am not educated enough to understand it, or because it was written to be something that no one understands.

I went into the story almost entirely blind, but I really do not think that going into it informed of what would happen would have really helped me either.

I think a lot of it just boils down to me not liking the writing style. It just never felt deep or meaningful to me, it just felt purple (and a little bit pretentious). I wanted the sapphic love story, and sure, I did get it, but I felt like so much of it was obscured under this cocoon of flowery prose.

I would say if you're someone who is looking for something with very pretty writing, definitely take a chance on This Is How You Lose the Time War. But, if you're someone looking for a sapphic love story more than a Literary Experience™, maybe look towards some other pieces of sapphic fiction.

(Also, for a partially science fiction book, there was very little science. I would have understood a book full of scientific jargon, but this had no actual scientific jargon. All of the flowery, purple stuff was either like. History, or made-up science.)