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Invictus Review

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Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Rating: XXXXX

Pubished: September 21st 2017 by Hachette Kids

“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.

I was lucky enough to get hold of an ARC copy of Invictus at YALC from the Fantastic Team At Bkmrk so thank you lovely people for giving me the opportunity to read this book early and thank you Ryan for sharing this story with us in the first place.

Invictus follows Farway Gaius McCarthy, (usually just known as Far) who is the son of a roman gladiator from 95AD and a time travelling historian from 2354 (where time travel is a relatively common occurrence), events transpire and Far ends up defying the laws of nature and is born out of time. Seventeen years later after failing his final exam that would have enabled him to become a time traveller like his mother, Far takes another avenue to realise his dreams of adventuring through time. Far is offered his own time machine to captain so long as he uses that TM to go back in time and acquire rare and valuable items for his employer. One of the perks of a non corps sanctioned (and very illegal) operation however, other than the better pay and great holiday destinations is that Far may choose his own crew. The dynamic of this group portrayed through the various relationships and interactions of the team are one of my favourite aspects of this book, Everyone fits together so well. I’m not usually a fan of books with multiple points of view but the changes felt seamless and you get to know the characters well enough that you pretty much instantly recognise everyone’s narrative tone and style.

Our Historian is Imogen McCarthy, Far’s older cousin who rocks a different hair colour every day with the “cutest pain in the tail there ever was” Saffron the red panda by her side (or rummaging around the overhead pipes) Imogen’s job is to know her history and brief the team on the time periods they visit for each mission, her speciality is fashion from the past.

Imogen is described as the swirl on the Invictus and Gram is the click. Practically a human computer Gram is at home with numbers and calculations, making him the perfect choice for the engineer tasked with navigating the TM through time when he’s not beating his high score at Tetris or solving Rubik’s cubes with his eyes closed.

Then we have Pyria, our chai tea guzzling, music nerd of a medic. She’s clever, resourceful and reliable, patching up Far when he gets into trouble and picking out playlists for every occasion.

A year of snatching artefacts later and a mission to the titanic to collect a priceless jewel encrusted book goes down the pan when Far bumps into another time traveller, Eliot. Two steps ahead of him this girl knows things that could bring Far’s existence into question and maybe save all of time and space as well.

The pacing is fantastic, it moves fast when it needs to, builds up at the right moments but can just as easily be slow and gentle on occasion as well. I was worried a book with time travel as a primary theme would find it difficult to adjust pace but Invictus really pushed all the right buttons for me. The same is true of the action scenes, that were described well without being too heavy and this is a book that I think would translate to film really well.

This is such a well-rounded book, balancing everything really well while still having room for shocking reveals and heart wrenching moments (there was an awkward moment involving me crying in our public library). Like with most YA books there was also some romance but I was really pleased that this wasn’t over done at all. It felt right and most romantic parts were very cute and felt like genuine healthy relationships.

I actually stopped tabbing towards the end as I was so hooked in and I just couldn’t stop even to tab. Being a standalone book was really refreshing and I think it helped to make the end a lot more satisfying.

As for what I didn’t like there wasn’t much to be honest, it felt a bit too “teenagery” in places but it is a YA book and that just means it’s doing it’s job right and I’m nearing thirty. The swearing without swearing bugged me a bit to start with, crux this and bluebox that (doctor who reference maybe?) but after a while I almost didn’t notice it and have even accidentally used it in actual conversation.

Invictus gets an easy five stars from me and is quite possibly my favourite read this year. I’m super excited about getting my finished copy as I’m in love with cover as well (I’m a bit of a foil cover magpie)

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