Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Summary: “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.
In this heart-stopping adventure, Ryan Graudin has created a fast-paced world that defies time and space.” (Summary found on Goodreads).
Invictus is a book I was able to pick up at Yallwest, and I was so excited for it…which makes it sad for me that this was so disappointing. Of course, I loved parts of it and the concept was amazing, but the execution fell flat. In a nutshell, this book had outstanding promise, but wasn’t quite what I was expecting or hoping for.
The characters were rather interesting. I liked Far and his cousin (whose name has disappeared from my memory), but the rest of the cast seemed flat. The romance was nonexistent at one point and then dropped into conversation as though I was supposed to have noticed its existence beforehand. I would have loved to have seen some development there, instead of implying it. Also, I’m a sucker for first meetings, and that never happened because they already knew each other.
Secondly, Eliot screamed “excitement”, but I was so underwhelmed about her character. I knew she was important and all, but her character had nothing special about it. She had zero personality, despite attempts made to have one, and I felt really indifferent toward her.
The plot was fun, honestly, and I have never really been one for time travel, but this was the first time I actually found myself engaged in the concept of traveling through time! There were laws and a system that made 100% sense to me (for once), which I found fantastic. Though, about halfway through the novel, the interesting parts of the time travel, like the stumbles through history and “how-to lessons” fell away for spaceship and science fiction pieces. This part felt, frankly, way too much like Illuminae and Gemina, specifically the ending of the latter. What was firstly original and creative became just another sci-fi novel, messing around with the same themes and tropes of every other one.
Overall, I was disappointed–this wasn’t the crazy, historical time-travel I expected. Thankfully, Ryan Graudin’s writing is fast-paced and exciting, managing to wrap her readers up in the story. The made-up curse words were kind of hilarious (and if replaced with the ones they were alluding to, it would be an excessive amount of cursing–not that I’m complaining) and I would give anything to have a red panda as a pet. I give props to Graudin for creating such a wonderfully hooking novel, but am wishing that it could have been more of what I expected.
In my opinion, this is a situation of “it’s me, not you” because I imagine there is an audience for this book. If you’re less accustomed to the sci-fi genre, maybe this would be new and exciting for you. And, quite possibly, I just didn’t connect with these characters–maybe you will.