by Ryan Graudin
When you’re sick in the hospital and need a good book, you want one that’s going to take you far, far away from your bed and those four off-white walls. So a LOT was riding on Invictus. And it was… perfect. It’s everything you could possibly want in a novel; fun, time travel, paradoxes, the future, adorable red pandas, alternate reality, time pirates… the list just keeps on going. It’s a thrill ride you can’t put down, and I loved every second of it.
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.
Time travel can be a whole mess for authors to tackle, and easily lead to plot holes or inconsistencies. But Invictus quickly lays down the rules and sticks to them, which makes for a killer story and an addicting read. Time travel done right leads to something un-put-down-able. If it did break any of its own rules, I didn’t notice, and was kept sucked into the story.
The plot also never gets dull or feels to drag out. Every few chapters, it’s as if the novel shifts completely: it throws every expectation or prediction you have on its head. The twists are so massive they completely alter the way you relate to the book itself, and that right there means there’s never a dull moment. If this were a TV show, they would have enough cliffhangers to have you on the edge of your seat all season long.
As for the characters, they’re lovable and fun. They’re bursting with personality, and they’re a tight little loving family, the kind that sort of warms your heart to see. Just wholesome perfection, with fun quips and snappy dialogue, along with great use of talents. It was also refreshing to skip over the will they, won’t they of Far and Priya, jumping straight into their comfortable relationship. Which means certain scenes all the more heartbreaking.
And to top it off, the descriptions are just killer. I love the future, which is just so dang hopeful, despite all the things that supposedly happened between now and then. I love the time-traveling historians, and their respect for history. And every travel back in time makes you feel as if you’re really there: the author has such a way with words you’re completely engrossed.
All in all, this is a fantastic read. If you need a novel to pick you up, you’ve got it right here. Not to mention, it’s a standalone – a fully self contained story that will have you hooked from start to finish, and thinking about it for ages after.
P.S. If you love red pandas, well, you’re in for a treat!