Written by Ryan Graudin
Published by Little Brown, September 26, 2017
My star rating: 4.25 stars
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. Goodreads Link
Ryan Graudin is a genius. Plain and simple. She takes her historical fiction novels to entirely new levels, making each one so different and unique that you can’t help but have her books make an imprint on your mind. The Walled City was set in the Kowloon Walled City, which is a place I had never heard of until that book. The city no longer stands, but learning about this place was so enthralling! Her Wolf by Wolf duology was unique in the way that it was an alternate ending to WWII – as in Hitler won the war and lived on. Who would have thought? Well, Ryan Graudin did! And now, with Invictus, we get to travel to multiple places, both in the past and in the future, and let me tell you – it was incredible!! I’m doing a bit of a different layout to this review because I have so much to say!
I loved each and every one of these characters! Some I loved immediately and some it took time to fall for, but this was such a great team!
- Farway is one of the ones that took me a while to get his whole personality. He starts off as a proud and conceited time traveler. Someone who is very sure of his abilities and future (AKA Giant Ego!). As the plot unfolds you see more and more layers to him (ok, yes, he still had a giant ego) and how much he cares for the people he’s surrounded with. You also see just how much his past effected his present and what those events did to him as a person.
- His cousin Imogen was hands down my favourite! She was bright, positive, funny, smart, determined, and the glue that held everyone together. I loved how her and Farway were so supportive to each other through this book. It gave a whole family dynamic to it and I thought it was just wonderful.
- Gram was the numbers nerd. Obsessed with Tetris and Rubik’s Cubes. He was the smarts behind this crew and watching him deal with emotion (which is messy and not as finite as numbers are) was funny and heart warming!
- Priya was the grounding centre of sweetness. She was so caring and quiet. You couldn’t help but love her.
- Eliot was the mystery. Showing up out of nowhere, messing up everything, and full of mystery. At first she did nothing but make me angry and annoy me, but when we learn more about her she broke my heart. I wanted her to have stability, family, love, and a life that was her own.
- Saffron – omg a red panda! How could you not love this thing! I wanted more of Saffron!!
“Risk nothing and you’ll stay where you are.”
When I read the synopsis I assumed that the girl that came into Farway’s life would be his love interest. Let’s be honest, in YA book, when a girl comes into the main characters life you just know they’re going to fall in love. WRONG! Farway and Priya were in a relationship when the book began, and it was so refreshing to read a book where we got to skip all the beginning mess of emotions of a relationship. Their relationship was warm and sweet, a great balance of personalities. There was, however, the beginnings of a different relationship and I loved it! It was adorable, awkward, and clumsy. Neither was sure how the other one felt which led to some blushing and embarrassment. I also liked that there was the relationship between Farway and Imogen which gave us the element of family. All of these characters together made a team – each of them better because of the others.
To sum up the time travel – it was so much fun!! We got to see everything from the future, The Colosseum in Rome, the Titanic, Las Vegas, The Library of Alexandria with Julius Ceasar, and more. I will admit that the details and logistics of time travel and certain other things got a little difficult to piece together. The pace went so fast at times I really had to slow down and take in all the details. I even found myself rereading the details to make sure that I really understood it. The pace was very consistent, but when things were happening it sped up quite a bit. This is definitely a book you can fly through, but to get the full effect I suggest forcing yourself to slow down. I did also wish that we got to spend a little more time in these places – their trip to the Titanic for example. For the purpose of the book and the plot, they didn’t have much time to sight see or experience the time period, so I understand why it was like this. But at the same time I wished there was a little more time for the reader to experience it all along with them.
So if you’re looking for a beautifully written, fast paced time travel novel with a great team of characters (including a red panda) then I highly recommend this one! At the back of the book it was described as “Guardians of the Galaxy meets Dr. Who” – I’ve never watched Dr. Who but it most definitely had the Guardians of the Galaxy feel!!
Thanks again to the Hachette Book Group Canada and Little Brown for sending me this ARC to review. My thoughts and feelings are entirely my own and have not been influenced.
Until next time, happy reading!