I was lucky enough to receive an early ARC copy of Ryan Graudin’s upcoming YA Sci-Fi, ‘Invictus’ from the lovely people at the BKMRK stand at YALC at the end of July. After getting my copy signed and nodding like a manic bobblehead at everything Ryan Graudin said whilst on a ‘Writing & Social Change’ panel, I couldn’t have been more excited to pick it up.
I’ve had an odd relationship with reading for a few months now. I’ve been reading some great books but, except for a special few I fell in love with, I haven’t felt my usual rush of love for reading. But I can happily say Invictus was the book of my reading slump dreams.
Opening with a prologue somewhat reminiscent of that scene in Star Trek, (hey Chris Hemsworth and Jennifer Morrison!) I was drawn in and pretty much hooked from the first page. Invictus has an intriguing, funny and diverse crew of characters. And a plot filled with time travel, fast paced action, epic heists and twist and turns throughout. Think Guardians of the Galaxy, had Guardians of the Galaxy been about a group of time travelling teenagers. Simply put, it was fantastic and made my marvel loving heart very happy. *Side note, can this be made into a movie please and thank you?*
Character wise, I instantly warmed to each and every Invictus crew member but Imogen, with her constantly changing kaleidoscope hair, was definitely my favourite. Her quirky ship’s log entries documenting Tetris scores, hair colours, ego’s and music, along with her optimistic, loyal, bubbly and fiercely loving personality, was a constant joy to read. I’m not sure if I want to be her or be her best friend, but I’d happily settle for either. She also has the coolest job ever, dressing the rich and famous in original clothing from their preferred historical era, understands the importance of ice-cream and has a pet red panda, so she wins. I’m not sure what exactly, but she wins it anyway.
“She flowed from one thing into the next in a way that was never expected but made perfect sense.”
As for the rest of the crew I loved Gram’s adorable awkwardness and bursts of confidence. Farway was passionate, funny and egotistical in an undeniably charming way. The love and loyalty he felt towards his self made family (the Invictus crew) was heartwarming. Priya was a quieter character but nonetheless strong and smart. Elliott was a mystery and one I thoroughly enjoyed. She was gusty, witty and unreliable but nevertheless I, along with the crew, couldn’t help but feel like she was trustworthy. The relationships and dynamics between the crew were wonderful. I absolutely loved that there was a long standing romantic relationship from the get go, which is so rarely found in YA. I’m also a sucker for the quiet ‘I love you but do you love me? I don’t know what to do. I’ll just sit here, keep my fingers crossed, smile at you and pretend I’m not totally in love with you and hope for the best but we’re super cute’ kind of romance, so I was 100% invested in Imogen and Gram (their Han’s and Leia ‘I know’ Star Wars moment gave my heart all the warm fuzzies.) The multiple dynamics individually and as a group between the Invictus crew was funny, heartwarming and so much fun to read.
I think one of my favourite parts of Invictus were the vivid descriptions of the different time periods the crew travelled to. It was cinematic, incredibly immersive and I now want to travel back in time more than ever *sigh*. I also really enjoyed the ongoing, underlying conversations on subjects such as society, racism and climate change. It was so interesting to read about our present day from a ‘looking back’ point of view.
“2020 was no golden age, either; slavery’s chains exchanged for jumpsuits, ‘keep your hands where I can see them’ a guarantee for nothing.”
Lastly, the writing. I loved it. It was so incredibly clever and obviously heavily thought out and plotted but it was never info-dumpy or confusing. It was fast paced, easy flowing and incredibly comfortable to read. I was turning pages and racing through it without even realising I was doing so, which is something I haven’t done for quite a while. In fact, I found it so addictive I ended up reading too quickly (sorry again Lily, Maddie, Bea and Carys for being a shoddy buddy reader!)
Invictus was a gripping, fast paced, action packed, funny, heart warming, rollercoaster of a read and I couldn’t recommend it more highly. Because I never know how to end these reviews, I’m going to leave that to Imogen and of my favourite quotes from the book.
“The world’s ending. Might as well have desert.”
Okay, I kinda love this one as well…
“When you witness the breadth of history, you understand how small you are. Any yet at the same time you realise how much your life matters… how much you shape the people around you. And visa versa.”