Book reviews / Science Fiction

Book review: This is how you lose the time war

I can see why lots of people love this book. It’s like a Russian Doll of a story, all wrapped up in flowery and beautiful language. But in some respects, that’s all it is. So it’s fine, but I’m not sure what all the fuss was about.

And like most things, I think this comes down to the kind of stories I like. I love really well built universes and this one was more like an impressionistic painting of a universe. It was all words and hints, shadow and light, but not a solid world that I could grasp or lose myself in.

I can see how people fall in love with the language. If there’s a universe there, it’s a universe of sentences and beautiful turns of phrase. Which I suppose is apt, given that it’s a series of letters between two people on opposite sides of the war. Though, annoyingly, I mostly wondered how they were ‘writing’ the letters. As it was so complex, it just made me wonder how it all was done (which I realise was not the point of the novel) but my stupid brain went there anyway and so just never let myself just go with the flow.

I think if I had read this another day, I could have maybe loved it. It reminds me of Other Words for Smoke and Book of M, except those had solid plots and not just flights of fancy. I did like the end though, I don’t think you can call it a twist but it did wonderfully wind some of the themes together.

It’s a pretty quick read, but I think it’s the type of book you should read when you’re not in a mood to think, but rather just to feel. You can’t really question what’s happening as then it all falls apart.

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