Invictus by Ryan Graudin
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.
When I first heard about this book, I thought it sounded like an intriguing premise. There were lots of fascinating elements to the book: time-travel, adventures in history, sci-fi and romance. Who could resist such a pitch? Another lure was the hype around the book. I didn’t hear much on social media, but I did see the ridiculously-long lines for free ARCs of Invictus at a literature convention I attended. Although, I suppose the prospect of a free book would draw big crowds.
Anyhow, I was pleased when the book appeared on Netgalley, and very excited when my request to read it was approved. Although, I didn’t actually expect to love it quite as much as I did. There was just so much that fascinated me, and I found myself having to tear my kindle from my hands whenever I needed to venture out somewhere without it. The world-building is beautiful, stunning vistas of space and time and moments lost to history. As a history student, I loved seeing moments I knew about threaded through the plot, and I read each mission with bated breath. The characters were incredibly life-like, and each revelation and joke between them seemed so natural and precious. I felt as though I was on the Invictus with them.
And then there was the plot itself. Wow. From the very first page, Invictus hurtled me through at a breakneck pace, throwing me into the action. And I loved it. Everything was such high-stakes that I struggled at times to continue reading for fear of reaching the end. I was terrified that it would end in a cliffhanger, and that I’d have to wait to find out what happened next. In a way, I’m pleased that it didn’t. The ending is beautiful and poignant and hopeful, but it’s a very clear ending to the book. All in all, it is definitely a book I’ll be recommending to friends, and I’m so glad I got the opportunity to read and review it.
I’d award Invictus a 9/10. This kind of book usually isn’t my cup of tea, but I really liked this one and I thought it was an intense and exciting read. I’m looking forward to seeing what the author comes up with next.