I cannot explain this book. It is an enemies to lovers story divorced from time, place and humanity while also steeped in all three. Red and Blue are operatives in opposites sides of a time war. I don’t have any idea who the sides are or why they fight. I don’t know what’s at stake. There is no good guy or bad guy. None of that matters though. What does matter are the letters Blue and Red exchange. Initially it’s two enemies taunting each other and over time the taunting turns to curiosity, sharing, friendship and then love.
I listened to the audiobook narrated by Cynthia Farrell and Emily Woo Zeller. At the end of the 4 hour and 15 minute read, I felt like I was balanced between drunk and hungover. The beauty of the language and emotion took me out of myself, which right now, is very desirable. Unencumbered by a linear limits of time, Red and Blue hop through strands of history doing their work and undoing each other’s. There’s a savagery to their imagery. They relish the challenge, the hunt, the chase, and the kill. On a far future battlefield Red finds Blue’s first letter which starts with, “Burn before reading.”
They write in fire, the dance of bees, the rings of a tree, in paintings and occasionally on paper. They are not human, but walk among humans and study human culture and behavior. Their letters are peppered with cultural references which they first use as weapons and later as a love language.
This is How You Lose the Time War was perfect at this moment in time. It was the perfect blend of opulent and spare, savage and tender.