Happy Saturday, all!
I'm catching up on my backlog of review books, and I'm finally getting to one of my favorite books of 2017 - yes, I'm calling it already - Invictus by Ryan Graudin.
It's a thrilling adventure/time-travel story, with an added layer of philosophy on the ripples that we make in our lives, when we interact with those around us.
So strap in, sit back and on to the review!
Published September 26th 2017 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Format read: ARC via publisher
Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time traveler from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in ancient Rome, Far's very existence defies the laws of nature. All he's ever wanted was to explore history for himself, but after failing his entrance exam into the government program, Far will have to settle for a position on the black market-captaining a time-traveling crew to steal valuables from the past.
During a routine heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl named Eliot who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Eliot has secrets-big ones-that will affect Far's life from beginning to end. Armed with the knowledge that history is not as steady as it seems, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to set things right before the clock runs out.
(Yes, I was the kid who alternated between reading Jack Finney and the Baby-Sitter's Club. I think that may explain a lot about who I am today...)
So when I learned that Ryan Graudin's latest involved history, the Titanic and time travel, I knew I had to do everything in my power to get an ARC. Graudin introduces us to Farway Gaius McCarthy, a would-be time traveler who was born out of time. When he fails his entrance exam to become a time traveler, he ends up as as captain of black market ship, stealing valuables through time. But a chance encounter sends Farway and a crew on a race to save time, including his own.
There are so many things to love about Invictus, beginning with the fact it's a tale about breaking all the rules, but actually has a strong, internal logic of its own. Time travel isn't the easiest thing to get right - authors don't always take the time to consider aspects like the butterfly effect - but Graudin has created a firm set of rules that clearly show why Eliot's appearance in Farway's life, is so potentially chaotic and destructive.
Both Eliot and Farway's interference with various periods in time - including one with personal ramifications for both of them - will likely readers to question the what-ifs in life, including their perosnal what-ifs for the paths not taken. It's a heady question to challenge young readers to consider, but Graudin writes with a confidence that will assure readers to take that smart, intellectual leap.
Outside of Farway and Elliot's core story, Graudin also does a fantastic job of interweaving the secondary stories of the other crew members. Not only does it emphasize that Eliot's ultimate mission is a high-risk scenario for the entire crew, but it also allows us to recognize just how thrilling it can be if you're young, gifted and have the entirety of time and place in your hands. There's a definite live-vicariously scenario come to life in Invictus, and that makes it a must-read for everyone.
All in all, I don't want to give too much of the book away, because part of the joy of reading Invictus is discovering Farway's journey for yourself. All I can say though is - if you haven't ordered this book already, definitely change that immediately.
About the author:
Ryan Graudin was born in Charleston, SC with a severe case of wanderlust. When she's not traveling, she's busy photographing weddings, writing, and spending time with her husband and wolf-dog. She is the author of The Walled City, Wolf by Wolf, and Blood for Blood. You can visit her online at ryangraudin.com.