I guess this one just isn’t for me.

I’m a fantasy reader at heart, but enjoy a dabble into sci-fi now-and-then, so after seeing so much praise heaped onto the Hugo and Nebula and Locus Award-winning This is How You Lose the Time War I decided to give it a shot.

The first chapter immediately sets the tone for the rest of the novella: it’s lyrical, expertly written, imaginative … and incredibly confusing. This is a book all about tone, about ambience, an exquisitely narrated tale of how two opposing characters intertwine through time and reality. It’s about how they share their thoughts through letters hidden across a thousand timelines on a thousand worlds, and how they come to terms with the development of their relationship.

This is How You Lose the Time War is less a novella and more a poem; an overwhelming series of metaphors and dreamlike reflections where each word of each phrase has been lovingly crafted to make a consistent whole.

Lots of people love these types of books. I am not one of them. I need to identify with the characters of the story. I need the plot to be engaging enough to entice me to keep turning the pages. I need to be able to clearly visualise what’s happening, and how the story uses the time it has to inform me on the people and places of the world it is set in.

If there’s no discernible agency; or nothing to make me care about the characters, then the tale itself, unfortunately, loses its charm.

I think this is one of those books that’s all about the journey, not the destination, which isn’t really what I’m looking for.