Thursday, October 19, 2017

Review: Invictus by Ryan Graudin


Title: Invictus
Author: Ryan Graudin
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 26, 2017
Format: ARC

Page Count: 464

Rating: 



Time flies when you're plundering history.

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far's birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he's ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far's very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth:

History is not as steady as it seems. (taken from goodreads.com)



“Are you you without your memories? If not, who do you become?”  

Time-traveling, teenage pirates. Yep, you read that right, and it was just as awesome as it sounds.

I cracked this futuristic novel open with very few preconceived expectations. All I knew was that time travel novels tended to mess with my head and leave me more confused than entertained. However, I'd heard some say that this is the time travel novel for people who hate time travel. Now that I've finished the book, I can say that I agree.

The story begins with Empra, the mother of our main character, Far. She has fallen in love with a gladiator in ancient Rome, and as a result, Far was born on a ship that's leaping between centuries. The premise immediately had me hooked. Forbidden love across the ages? I'm so there. What I wouldn't give for a novel about Empra and Gaius, but I digress. Far and his motley crew of smuggling time jumpers are a hoot, and you'll instantly feel their effortless comradery and intimate relationships.

Graduin does an excellent job of keeping you on your toes while slowly feeding you bits of complicated physics and convoluted backstories. I won't lie: I was still confused at some points, even though I enjoyed this sci-fi novel. Time travel always makes me feel like I've stuck my head in a cramped space, and even Graduin's wonderful writing style wasn't enough to keep all of my headaches at bay. However, the story and characters were interesting enough for me to overlook any minor confusion I faced.

Points to the author for originality. Although time travel isn't exactly an untapped genre of science fiction, few stories have portrayed it like this. I was immensely intrigued by the concept of Recorders who went back, unobserved, to catalog details about the past. Graduin takes us everywhere from the Roman Colosseum in its prime to the sinking of the Titanic as Far and his crew makes daring snatches. I only wish there had been more descriptions of their many adventures!

I feel like this is a poorly thought-out review, and I apologize for that. Let me sum it up for you: Invictus is a time-travel novel that stands out from the rest with its bright characters, intriguing take on history, and its complicated plotline. Although I'm not a huge science fiction fan, Graduin won me over with well-developed characters and a story full of heart. Definitely recommended to anyone who enjoys a good traipse through history (and the future).