Rated Reads

Invictus

by Ryan Graudin

Rated: Mild

Farway McCarthy was born outside of time; his mother had traveled from 2354 back to 95 A.D. to do routine historical research for a year, and she had gotten pregnant and given birth on her way back to her own year. His birth on a time-traveling ship in “the Grid” between two times hasn’t caused him many problems by the time he’s 17 but has just led to some minor issues and given him a bit of pride for being “special.”

Far is just about to graduate from training as a time traveler himself and is sure he’ll be assigned to a great post because he’s done so well in school. But a very strange occurrence during his final-exam “Sim” causes him to be failed. He’s devastated and left with no prospects. Then he’s given a second chance — to be captain of an illegal ship going back in time to gather priceless items lost to history to then be sold on the black market. For the opportunity to be able to time-travel still, he goes for it. Far gathers his crew of friends he knows will be good at their jobs and they start their work.

They do pretty well for a while, with a few close calls, sure, but then one day they are going back to pick up something from the Titanic just before it sinks, and some weird things happen. The biggest is that a strange girl shows up, and she looks just like the person in the Sim who caused Far to fail. She nabs the book Far was tasked with finding and insists that she be allowed to join their crew before she hands over the book.

She gives them one story about why she wants to be on their ship, but it’s clear she has ulterior motives. Eventually, they find out where she’s from and what she’s doing, and it sets them on a very different path — an urgent one.

Invictus is a fun book; it reads somewhat like it’s between middle-grade and YA — sometimes the writing can seem a bit simple. The story is entertaining, and it’s interesting to see how it all plays out by the end: There are a lot of threads related to time travel that have to be resolved and made to make sense, and it works. The teen characters and their friendships are a big part of the book and a reason it’s so fun to read.

Rated: Mild, for occasional uses of mild language. There’s a lot of “fake” curse words that are ostensibly ones that have evolved in the future. There’s only some basic kissing and there isn’t really much violence except a couple scenes of gladiators clashing and spilling blood in first-century Rome.

*I received an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for about 20 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

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  • Invictus
  • by Ryan Graudin
  • Rated: Mild
  • Genre: Young adult
  • Reviewer: