I’m not a big fan of time travel books, but I did really like Ryan Graudin’s Wolf by Wolf. While I loved the premise of this, I thought it abandoned the coolest part of the story to focus on something I found less interesting. Check out my full review of Invictus below!
Invictus by Ryan Graudin
To be published on September 26, 2017 by Little, Brown
Source: ARC from Book Expo
Synopsis adapted from Goodreads: Farway Gaius McCarthy, the son of a time-traveler from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, defies the laws of nature. After failing his final time-traveling exam, Far commands a ship that’s part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past. During a heist, 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.
As the synopsis indicates, this book’s main character was born out of a forbidden time-travel romance, and thus is a threat to the sanctity of time. The book began with a short prologue that offered a glimpse into the love story between Far’s mother and her gladiator lover.
In the main story, Far headed a band of time-traveling thieves who went back in time to steal artifacts that were about to be lost (as the Titanic was sinking, for instance). I really loved this aspect of the story, except for the fact that I didn’t really understand how this smart, cool group had such mercenary motives. Every time they’d hand a priceless artifact over to their boss, who was then going to hand it over to a rich collector, the history nerd in me would cringe a little. (I guess the stuff had to stay hidden?) But still, what a cool premise!
The crew consisted of Far, his rainbow-haired cousin, his girlfriend (a medic) and the requisite resident tech genius. They encountered a mysterious character on one of their heists and at this point, the focus of the book started to shift in a different direction, to focus on parallel universes and the problems caused by Far’s very existence.
Honestly, I would have been happier if the book had continued as a time-traveling heist story. Or if the book had stayed in the prologue as a forbidden time travel romance. (If you’re a reader who needs romance in a story, that prologue romance is really the only one in the book. Far and his girlfriend are well-settled in their relationship).
I wasn’t really feeling the whole “save the world as parallel universes start to collapse on each other” thing. For me, someone who’s not that into physics or even sci-fi, this all felt very abstract and not nearly as interesting as heists or forbidden love.
But hey, that’s just me. If things like Consistency Paradoxes and Temporaral Causality Loops make your heart beat a little faster, you should definitely check out Invictus. It offers up a blend of action and sci-fi that I think many readers will enjoy.