Invictus, by Ryan Graudin
Publish Date: September 26, 2017
Published by: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
My Rating: ★★★☆☆ (2.5 out of 5 stars)
**I received this as an ARC from the publisher at BookCon2017 in return for an honest review.**
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.
This book was such a highly anticipated read for me that I was determined to get it when I went to BookCon. Thieves and time travel? Yes please! I was so so excited for it – only to find that I kind of didn’t care for it at all.
The plot started off interestingly enough – introducing the characters, their circumstances, and how Far becomes the captain of a time ship with the intention of stealing from history. The world building was intriguing, but also confusing at times, with lots of new slang of the future that took some time getting used to. Graudin’s writing also felt kind of messy at times – with characters’ thoughts going off into confusing metaphors and tangents that only vaguely made sense. And the plot was a mixture of movement and slowness, with some great action scenes followed by long, dragging inner-character monologues and discussions about things happening in the plot. I felt that it went so quickly from being about thieving through time to having to save the world that I quickly lost interest in it – I signed up for thieves in a time machine! Sure, some world saving is fine, but I would have loved to see more of the heists that they apparently went on, because that is what drew me to this book in the first place.
Like I said, there was a lot of inner-character stuff that dragged the plot around most of the time, and while normally I love getting to know the characters more, I didn’t really feel like there was all that much I found interesting about them to really care when they started having these monologues. None of them really stood out from the page, except maybe Imogen for being such a fun and kind soul, but even then it wasn’t enough to make me love her. I also think part of it was that every chapter was told from a different point of view, and with each character having such a unique way of thinking and narrating, it was hard sometimes to go from one to another and get used to a new narration. They just each had a different beat and while that makes sense and they should, the constant jumps in perspective in this book just had my mind boggling for some reason.
In addition to the constant jumping back and forth between narrations, there were also some romances that I could have honestly cared less about. The one between Priya and Far was fine, and I actually kind of liked it that they were basically together from almost the start – didn’t have to deal with much drama there. But the one between Imogen and Gram? Felt unnecessary and forced just because of their close proximity. Yes, it was cute, but I just didn’t need it. And I really don’t think the plot did either.
In all honesty, I almost didn’t finish it. If it hadn’t been for the fact that I had only a hundred pages left by the time I felt thoroughly done with it, I might have. But at that point I figured I might as well finish it. (This was at the point where the ending became so utterly predictable I barely needed to read it to know what was going to happen.) It was overall an okay read, but kind of disappointing in its plotline, with characters that didn’t really stand out and writing that just felt a like a little bit of a struggle to follow sometimes.