Book Review: Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Book Review: Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Title: Invictus
Author: Ryan Graudin
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Hardcover: 464 pages
Source: ALA Annual 2017
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

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.

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*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher at ALA Annual 2017. This is an honest review.*

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Let me just begin by saying there are a ton of really wonderful twists and turns in this book which I will not be going into because I feel like it would take away from the reading experience.

Invictus takes place in a future earth where time travel has been perfected.  In order to insure that they do not accidentally change the past all time travelers are given rigorous training as to how to blend into the background of various parts of history to record events or time periods without disturbing them.  Enter Empra McCarthy who violates these maxims to the degree that she has a child by a Roman gladiator.  To further complicate things the child is born as her ship is making its jump back to the present day so her son, Farway, is born out of time.

We then flash forward to when Far himself is trying to pass his exams to become a member of Corps and take control of his own ship.  Something strange happens during his final exam which leads to him to become desperate.  He eventually gets hired by a black market criminal who trades in artifacts lost from history and is allowed to run his own ship and even be able to take some of his own trips as long as he works with his employer to occasionally recover priceless lost artifacts.

This is where the book really shines.  Each ship needs crew members and Farway fills him out with his friends and family.  His cousin Imogen is a wonderful counter often taking her incredibly arrogant cousin down a peg.  She serves as the Historian, a key person to work in conjunction with the recorder (Farway) since they are responsible for making sure outfits are correct for the time period and also letting the recorder know about things like the layout of the buildings they will be going to.   Priya is a medic and romantically involved with Farway.  She is incredibly well developed both through why she became a medic and also by constantly providing the music for others which is a wonderful mix of real songs and “future” compositions.  The final member of the crew is Gram, an incredibly intelligent and talented engineer who seems to be primarily concerned with tetris when he is not piloting the ship to various times and places.  As I was writing a description for these characters I almost claimed each was my favorite character, which again I think is one of the stronger aspects of the book.

Without giving too much away, the plot is driven when a girl that caused Farway to fail his final exam simulation pops up in one of their future retrieval missions.  Farway and the crew need to figure out who this girl is and what she wants.  I think this book is definitely worth checking out if you enjoy science fiction and is probably still of interest even if you aren’t a huge fan.

One thought on “Book Review: Invictus by Ryan Graudin

  1. So happy you enjoyed this. I couldn’t agree more with your points.

    The characters were the centre of the book and I loved reading about all of them, I kind of sad that the book was standalone, it makes sense obviously plot-wise but I will miss the characters.

    Great review.

    Cody @ Literary-ly Obsessed

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