CBR 13 Bingo Square: Fauna
This is How You Lose the Time War came highly recommended by Cannonballers and all sorts of ‘best of lists’, it’s even a staff pick at Mysterious Galaxy (where it completes a separate bingo square for their summer reading bingo!). I’m happy to report that it lived up to all the hype. This is a love story unlike any I have read before, due to the science fiction setting and non-human characters, but it contains classic elements; enemies to lovers, keeping love hidden from disapproving powers/factions, communicating through letters, and a sort of happy ever after.
The Agency and Garden are far future societies locked in a time war to control the path of the universe towards their preferred goals. Red and Blue are exceptional agents of the Agency and Garden respectively, while they sometimes wear a human form their true selves are monstrous. Red and Blue have been adversaries back and forth across time, each trying to out wit the other and bring another victory for their side of the time war. Sometimes their manipulations are subtle and other times more bombastic. Then one day on a ruined battle field, when Red was celebrating a job well done, she finds a single sheet of paper with “Burn before reading” written on it. And thus begins the illicit communications between her and Blue.
The delivery method for the letters between them are science fiction delights, this is one of my favorites:
The letter began in the tree’s heart. Rings, thicker here and thinner there, form symbols in an alphabet no one knows but Red. The words are small, sometimes smudged but still: ten years per line of text, and many lines. Mapping roots, depositing or draining nutrients year by year, the message must have taken a century to craft.
I adored their nickname salutations for each letter, naming each other for things of or relating to their color such as; Cardinal, Cochineal, Lapis, and 0000FF (hexadecimal for blue). To quote the the infamous bard, the course of true love never did run smooth and here it is no exception as the Agency and Garden try to manipulate their agents against one another.
I thoroughly enjoyed This is How You Lose the Time War and highly recommend it, especially if you are both a romance and science fiction enthusiast!