Not-A-Review: This is How You Lose the Time War

This is How You Lose the Time War by Max Gladstone

Another one for the Not-A-Review files:

Seems doubtful I would ever read this book.

One, I’ve always been iffy about the epistolary format, which is pretty odd, considering the volumes of letters I’ve written over my life. (Literally. One friend and I filled a two-inch three-ring binder at college). I mean, maybe that’s why; it’s too personal to be appropriate to what I feel a story needs. In a lot of letters, there’s the weight of history behind them. This set-up, perhaps, could transcend the form, but still, ultimately, the narrative style is usually So Much Describing.

Two, the other thing that happens in epistolary format is that there is so much ego, and I mean that in the literal sense. As a reader, you can’t escape from the narrator, so you had best like the narrator. Everything that happens is going to be from the Ego point of view. What happens to me, how it happens to me, how I felt about it, what I did. Ugh: get over yourself, already.

Two point five, that means world-building will often take a back seat. Unless the author is extremely clever with voice, there should be all sorts of assumptions that the letter-writers take for granted and don’t naturally elaborate on.

Third, romance, connection, whatever you want to call it, the main plot of this book is about two beings connecting. Generally not interested with prejudice if it’s the major plot point of the book. I’m not the one that reads the Missed Connections page for funsies.

About thebookgator

avid reader and Goodreads reviewer looking for a home.
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7 Responses to Not-A-Review: This is How You Lose the Time War

  1. I can think of two incredible epistolary novels: 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff and Letters to Alice: On First Reading Jane Austen by Fay Weldon. And I have read a LOT of novels.

  2. gehmeyr says:

    I DNFed it around halfway through. Congrats to your not-wasting-time-with-this.

  3. Redhead says:

    i really, really, REALLY wanted to like Time War. And i liked small chunks of it! but as a whole, it didn’t work for me. I wanted to care about the romance thing, and for 99% of the story, I just. . . didn’t. I typically do like epistolary stories, and you are so right about having then to deal with the narrator’s ego.

    if you’re interested, Pen Pal by Francesca Forrest is a nice (yep, you guessed it!) epistolary novel with no ego, and no romance. a woman in her 30s (I think she’s in her 30s? it’s been a while since I read it!) gets a letter from a teenager, a young woman who is just reaching out to the universe to see if anyone is listening. It’s a satisfying and lightly fantastical read.

    • thebookgator says:

      Thanks for your insight, Redhead. I could see where small bits might work–I’ve read shorts by Amal and long ones by Max, and I think they are both good writers. Thanks for the heads-up about Pen Pal.

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