Back in 2012, for my first NaNoWriMo, I started writing a YA fantasy story with a bit of sci fi thrown in about a child born out of time from a mother who could time travel and a father from ancient Rome named Gaius. (I still haven’t finished writing that one, and who knows whether it will ever be in any kind of shape to publish.)

When I read the premise of Invictus by Ryan Graudin — a YA sci fi story about a boy born out of time to a Roman father named Gaius and a time traveling mother — I just had to pick it up. It seems there’s a story floating around in the ether that absolutely needs to be told, and the muse is a Roman named Gaius, and he’s just randomly appearing to writers trying to get his name in print.

While that’s pretty much where the similarities between my unfinished manuscript and this story end, it should come as no surprise that I LOVED this book.

It has so many elements that I appreciate in a fantasy / sci fi story. Time travel! Rips in spacetime! Ancient Rome! Future Rome! Piracy! Difficult choices! Character growth! Plus, the story moved along at an exciting pace rather than getting bogged down with too much angst — a problem which I feel plagues to many YA-focused stories. It had interesting twists, and I didn’t see the end coming from too far off, which is a good sign to me that the author took risks and found interesting avenues to explore.

I highly recommend this book if you enjoy sci fi elements, stories focused around groups of scrappy teens, and ensemble casts (different chapters are from the POV of different characters). I know I will definitely be on the lookout for more books by this author.

P.S. I did this one as an audiobook, and the reader did a fantastic job with an exciting story. Definitely worth a listen.

Have you read this one? What did you think? Or do you have any other delightful YA time travel book recommendations? Let us know in the comments!

Photo of Colosseum by Jace Grandinetti from StockSnap

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