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  • Writer's pictureEric Knabel

What I’m reading now

Updated: May 13, 2020

Those who know me know that I am a sucker for a good time travel adventure. I am fascinated by an individual's take on how you disrupt (or don't disrupt) the continuum through interference. Very seldom do you find something that is fresh.

“Books are letters in bottles, cast into the waves of time, from one person trying to save the world to another.”

"This is How You Lose the Time War" is my most recent read. This novella has been getting glowing reviews from everyone I've seen on author Twitter, including many whose work and opinions I respect. The concept is simple enough, with two warring factions for control of the future sending their best agents to further their respective agendas. The agents begin exchanging letters in increasingly inventive ways as they attempt to outwit and "one-up" each other. Over the course of their letters, they come to have feelings for one another and even violate their directives to save each other.

As I said above, I'm a sucker for a good time travel narrative. But time travel is almost treated with an "oh, by the way, did you see this cool thing I can do?" nonchalance. The star of this narrative is the budding love that these two agents have for each other. Whether this is a romantic sort of love, or the ultimate manifestation of "buddy love," never is clear, and that's perfectly fine. The letters are what you wait for in each chapter, not only in their delivery, but their words. The prose is like a dessert you want to enjoy, not devour. As a writer, I find myself horribly intimidated, with the inevitable thoughts of "I'll never be able to write like that."

However, have you ever had that book, movie, or television show that everyone is losing their mind over, and you can't quite figure out the buzz? That was this book for me. Then again, if this had been my concept, my result would have been very different - a fast-paced time travel caper whose letters back and forth would be little more than glorified smack talk. I do not feel that the pedestrian reader would not pick this up right away, and my passion is inspiring a reading interest in one who would not traditionally do so.

At the end of the day, this is a beautifully-written book, and if I didn't enjoy it as much as I could have, I think that says more about my limitations than the book's. If I were "star rating" this book, it would probably be 4/5.

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