by Ryan Graudin
Read: July 1 - 7, 2017
Published: September 26, 2017 by Little, Brown BYR
Category: YA, time travel, history thieves
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound
Book Description: 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 liked so much about Invictus. The whole set up of the story, in fact, is completely my kind of thing. I just LOVE the idea of a crew of time traveling teens racing through history, stealing treasures that have been lost to time and tragedy. Getting a first hand look at history past is always a favorite theme, and I enjoyed following Farway, Priya, Imogen and Gram on their trips. Also, my kids have recently gotten completely hooked on "Jack and Annie books" as they call them, so for there sake, I'd definitely label this story (at least at first) as 'The Magic Tree House reboot for teens, but in a spaceship with a red panda'.
After a prologue recounting Farway's very unconventional birth outside of time, this book begins on the day he fails his time-traveling exam and his entire life's path shifts directions to something all-together different, and, also, more exciting. Even if Farway thinks it's completely over at first. Then the story jumps again to nearly a year later when Far is commander of his ship the Invictus and his crew has successfully completed many missions stealing lost treasure for their black market dealing boss. I could definitely read an entire book just about Far's crew's adventures stealing treasures in time. But it is at this point in the story that the crew experiences a major hiccup in their previously smooth missions and 'all hell breaks loose' as one might say. The characters are all left reeling and racing through time to fix a problem they never anticipated. This is where the meat of the story is, and also where the mysterious Eliot joins the crew.
I did not like Eliot at all when we first meet her, and I didn't know what to think of her for a long time. But her role in this story definitely surprised me, and she upped the intensity factor - and changed the direction of the plot - a lot. I also ended up feeling a lot differently about her by the end than I thought I would have. I like characters that surprise me like she does that well.
The way the story jumps, Farway and Priya are already dating during the majority of the tale. And while we don't get the swoony build-up of their romance, I loved the settled-ness of it and how their relationship was important to both of them. It also allowed the drama and action to focus on other things, which makes sense for a story that's less character driven and more focused on plot and
While the plot shifts directions, things slowed down for me a bit in the middle, but the end is fast paced and exciting with very high stakes. I was rushing to turn pages to find out how Far and friends would solve the huge worlds-ending problem they'd gotten themselves into. Invictus is a standalone with a strong and solid ending, and thank goodness for that. As much as I love a good series, it's also nice to read a self-contained sci-fi/fantasy book.
Love Triangle Factor: None. I was worried for a moment there but my fears were completely unfounded.
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone
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