Invictus by Ryan Graudin
Summary: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.
I had extremely high hopes for Invictus because I’m a huge fan of time travel books and I absolutely adored Ryan Graudin’s previous novels. Unfortunately, though, Invictus was rather underwhelming. I just didn’t feel that it lived up to the high standard Graudin set with her Wolf by Wolf duology (which I absolutely loved).
Invictus is set in a futuristic society where time travel is possible. When a strange event starts unraveling the fabric of time, a group of teenagers have to travel back in time to try to fix it before the it’s too late.
The plot was certainly the high point of the novel. The premise was creative and well thought-out, and, as a history buff, I was delighted by all the historical references scattered throughout the story. (My personal favorite was the chapter entitled “Let Them Eat Cake” after Marie Antoinette.)
The cast of characters is flamboyant and refreshing. Each character has their own quirks and traits that make them memorable and enjoyable. While the characters were entertaining to read about, I do wish they were just a bit more developed and complex. They felt rather one-dimensional and needed more layers to truly come alive.
The romance was also rather forgettable. There was nothing about the romance that was especially memorable or noteworthy, and it was hard to feel the chemistry between the two characters. As with many other young adult books, it felt like the romance was only added to appease a teenage audience – not out of true necessity.
Additionally, there were many unnecessary details and subplots in the story, which hindered the pacing. Some tighter, more concise editing would have helped emphasize the creative plot and added a layer of urgency and action to the story.
Unfortunately, Invictus was rather mediocre. I’d recommend reading Graudin’s other novel, Wolf by Wolf, instead. It is far superior to this in terms of both the characters and the romance. If you’re desperate for a well-written time travel novel, try All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill instead.