INVICTUS: A Wild Ride Through Time for Teens

Lynn: Ryan Graudin has created another high-octane science fiction thriller in Invictus (2017). Unlike the alternate histories presented in Graudin’s earlier novels like Blood for Blood and Wolf by Wolf,  Invictus takes on time travel. Born outside of time to his time-traveler mother and a Roman gladiator, Farway Gaius McCarthy dreams not only of becoming a time traveler, but also of finding his mother, who disappeared when he was just a boy. When he unexpectedly fails an important exam, Far leaps at the chance to join a black-market time-traveling group that plunders treasures just before they are lost to history. Assembling a young crew that can only be called motley, Far leads them on trip after successful trip back in time—successful, that is, until he jumps his team to the deck of the Titanic just minutes before the iceberg and discovers another time-jumper is already there. Suddenly, pieces of time, history, and memory begin to disappear. Uh oh!

Graudin has created a terrific, mind-twisting plot, taking all the convoluted possibilities of time travel and giving them a fresh spin, while adding a whole other fascinating device. Readers might want to make a diagram! Smart, snarky dialogue and a truly engaging cast of diverse characters add real charm and a Dr. Who feel. There’s a sweet, romantic thread, too, in the does-he-or-doesn’t-he style, as Invictus jumps through the centuries. Graudin takes her time putting all these facets into play, but this reading journey is definitely worth taking. Hand this to teens willing to go along for the ride.

 

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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