Author: Ryan Graudin
Edition: ARC paperback
Publication date: 26th September 2017
Read: 1st – 11th August 2017
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.
What a fearsome light, calling her, the moth who knew her wings would burn.
Let the flames come. Let the watch end.
It’s been a long while since I read a book about time travel that was this thrilling. The action was electric and the (literal) race against time was nail-bitingly good.
But more than anything, this book was clever. And I love clever books. In a story where the characters are constantly moving throughout history, it takes a lot of work to maintain the timelines, and Ryan Graudin does so with ease and finesse. The plot has multiple threads interwoven into the overarching tapestry, creating a rich story that constantly asks you to reevaluate what you know about the world.
The world itself is a futuristic version of Rome – imagine neoclassicism meets Blade Runner – melding the iconic buildings and architecture of the city, with advanced technology and travel. It’s a compelling hybrid of past and present, and Graudin’s descriptions are detailed, yet leave enough space for the reader to embellish the world.
The four protagonists are vibrant, diverse, and get plenty of satisfying character development. Far begins the novel reckless, egotistical, and confident, but learns to tack stock before diving into situations and realises that the universe is bigger than one person. Priya is more level-headed and her passion for music and medicine make her instantly likable, but she grows to understand that she wants adventure over her everyday job. Imogen is a bundle of colour and delight and her growing relationship with Gram is, quite frankly, adorable. While romance plays a definitive part in the story, each character’s relationship doesn’t overshadow their own mannerisms and personality traits.
The diversity in Invictus is well balanced; Far and Imogen are both white, but Priya has Indian heritage, Gram has African American roots, and Eliot has alopecia – something I’ve never seen represented in a novel before, but that was done so with sensitivity and initiative. While Invictus isn’t own voices, the rep seems respectful and it’s .
It’s rare for a book to make me laugh out loud, but this book managed it more than once. The dialogue is witty, and Far and Eliot’s have viciously direct conversations at times that somehow manage to be both cutting and funny. Imogen often throws off-the-wall comments into the mix, which is exactly my kind of humour. Graudin has a knack for writing compelling dialogue, that drives the story forward while also cultivating each scene.
At its heart, this book is a sci-fi adventure of the finest kind. The blend of action and tender moments is spot on and the characters were joyously likable. There’s drama, tension, and jaw-droppingly good twists. If time-travel’s your bag, you’d be mad to miss this.