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This really is a *HASHING amazing book. Through the storytelling by Ryan Graudin and sheer expanse of time traveled, it feels epic. I pre-ordered 'Invictus' based on the recommendations of authors of the book, the intriguing one-liner, and feeling that the title implied a novel of immense proportions and it didn't disappoint me.
It may only be coincidental that my son's name is Roman, but I happen to have a penchant for stories that include venturing to Ancient Rome, and combine that with time-travel, a red panda, Rubik's cubes, as well as teleportation, and this is a must-read. The story is hard to explain in a neat little nutshell - and I can't even imagine how the author Ryan quickly describes this book to people! One way would be to say that 'Invictus' is about a group of time-traveling-treasure-hunting-teenagers who basically end up saving the world from history and time fading away into nothingness. Make sense? Probably not (I guess you will have to read it).
I loved the crew of whimsical characters and those wonderful chapter titles! Sometimes I'd get lost in the amazingly imaginative techie talk that Graudin somehow came up with for this book, but that's a little because I'm still a sci-fi newbie (it happens a lot with many sci-fi/fantasy novels). I have to reread to grasp it all, but it feels like ultimate proof of the incredible world-building that has been accomplished. It's so complex and rich, that a second read is necessary to absorb it all and bring more of it to life.
It also turns out I have forgotten all my Latin from my boarding school days but I was delighted to be transported back to the Coliseum that I've visited, except that it's now in use and there are gory scenes described. Graudin also transports us to places like Vegas and back to the Titanic. All of that is a real treat. Since I have a movie background, I just couldn't help but envision this as a movie (sorry, Ryan) because the imagery and storyline just scream 'film it' to me! Basically, that just means it was so effective in terms of me visualizing the words I was reading into something vivid in my head. Read it and tell me how cool the costume and set design would be...
Anyway, I was kind of glad to read that this will be a standalone novel without any followup (some people may not agree). It's so beautiful with its ending, leaving me to imagine what's next. There's so much that goes on for these characters, you trust that they will go on the right path.
This book really is a marvel and a real success for Ryan Graudin, who has made a side step away from her grittier other novels. I hope she writes more in this vein. Everyone needs to read this, NOW.
*And HASHING needs to be the next new word in everyone's vocabulary. It was just one of the cool words Graudin came up with!