Came for the Doctor Who Reference, Stayed for the Story

This Is How You Lose the Time WarThis Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t remember if I heard of this book through Instagram, a magazine, or YouTube, but I got it at the library the day it came out and read it immediately. I expected to like it and hoped even love it because it sounded poetic and magical and queer — all things right up my alley. And yes, I loved it! Still, the first 68 pages were — dare I say it? — a bit difficult. In her blurb, Kelly Sue DeConnick calls it “poetry disguised as genre fiction,” and that feels accurate. My struggle was that I haven’t read poetry in several years, and it took me a while to get back into the groove. Although, it also felt like as Red and Blue got to know each other better, their language became more grounded somehow. Their delight in each other was mirrored in a delight in the world around them. And so I re-learned how to read poetry, and I fell in love with this book.

I read the last half in a frenzy, unable to put it down. It was impossible for me not to get invested in these characters. There was so much yearning and desperation in this story, and especially where queer lives are concerned, that feels so relatable. And there’s something about impossibility that touched my heart here. I loved that while so much of this story felt mutually exclusive (in a “neither can live while the other survives” kind of way), the story was continually teaching me that, actually, no, I’m just not using my imagination enough. And if there’s one thing Red and Blue don’t lack for, it’s imagination.

I adored this story. It’s a beautiful, painful, gem of a fairy tale, and now I want a copy for myself to love forever. Can’t wait to read this again.

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