Book Review: Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Book Review: Invictus by Ryan Graudin

invictusA book with time traveling, a red panda, and historical heists performed for the elite of the world? And it is written by Ryan Graudin, author of the incredible Wolf by Wolf? I was all in for Invictus. And it did not disappoint.

Invictus is a sci-fi young adult novel revolving around a young man named Farway. His mother was a famous recorder, that is, someone who travels in time and records moments of history. And it has been his dream to do the same, especially since she disappeared. With stellar marks at the academy, the top of his class, Farway approaches his final test with eager confidence. But something goes wrong. The simulation seems rigged, his target recognizes him as an outsider and he fails his exam.

What’s a young man with incredible, and now useless, knowledge to do? Accept a position for his own ship, navigate time and space to work for unnamed benefactors that want very rare, special things… artifacts from time. But they must be taken so that no one knows, and history must remained unaltered.

Without getting into true spoilers. I have to say I loved the premise of this story. The idea that this man is not only chasing his mother’s ghost by visiting time, but also possibly holding on to a thread of hope that he can find the woman herself. Farway’s team on the ship include a talented, diverse crew. Imogen and Gram, Priya and Eliot; they all contribute to the story and the color of the crew in interesting ways.

The details of their escapades are just detailed enough that they feel rich and satisfying. You can imagine yourself in one of these ships with them, about to visit the Titanic. Or earlier in Farway’s final exam, dancing among the courtiers in Marie Antoinette’s presence. You hold your breath in anticipation of visual contact with things you may have heard of in your own history classes, movies or documentaries. It is a fun, romp through a book that has moments of historical fiction mixed with science fiction and family drama. And of course, Imogen’s red panda. (A highly underrated animal, in my opinion.)

If you enjoy a book that crosses over a couple of genres, is a standalone book, and has a satisfying ending: this may be the book for you. Highly recommended fall read.