Author: Ryan Graudin
Genre: YA / sci-fi
What it’s about: Farway Gaius McCarthy is a boy out of time–literally. He’s the son of a 24th century time traveler and a Roman gladiator, born in the Grid, the timeless space used to travel between eras. All he’s ever wanted is to become a time traveler like his mother… but when his final exam is tampered with, he’s forced to settle for a different way of exploring history: as a thief snatching valuables from the moment of disasters where they’ll never be missed. But a run-of-the-mill heist on the sinking Titanic changes everything. A girl steals the goods before he can get to them and then insists on joining his team. But why–and what she isn’t telling them–could change the course of time forever.
My thoughts: Who doesn’t love a good sci-fi, time traveling adventure? This book was just a lot of fun from start to finish. I’ve always enjoyed learning about history so the adventures to different prominent historical events (the sinking of the Titanic, the burning of the Library of Alexandria) was so fascinating to read about, especially since Graudin seems to have really done her research– important when you’re dealing with time travelers who are trying to blend into the crowd, and something as small as the wrong style of toga can make you stick out like a sore thumb. And speaking of time travel, the sci-fi elements were so thoughtfully crafted (especially impressive considering the book dealt with a lot of crazy technology and some tricky time-travel paradoxes).
Time travel can be a really tricky thing to write about. There are so many different theories about the effect it might have on the past and the future if it were possible. Does a change in the past actually affect the future or does it create some kind of causal loop? Is time self correcting and impossible to change or would changes actually create alternate timelines / dimensions, while the original timeline is maintained? This book takes the latter theory and runs with it, and I appreciated that because time travel is much too complicated and dangerous to assume you could just mess around with time without facing any serious consequences.
I really loved the ensemble cast of characters and their distinctive personalities, from the cock-sure thieving captain, Farway, and his vibrant-haired historian cousin with a pet red panda to the chai-loving medic, Priya, and their mysterious new crewmate, Eliot. Not to mention Gram, the genius engineer. This book was fairly long for a YA novel, so the fact that the characters and story were so engaging really kept me in the moment (and from putting down the book until late in the night). And the fact that there were some twists I genuinely did not see coming is a testament to how well Graudin handled all the minute complications of time travel being unraveled in the book.
It’s just a fun, well-written sci-fi adventure, what can I say? If you’re a fan of history hopping tv shows like Doctor Who or Legend of Tomorrow, this is probably a great book to continue your love of time travel–not to mention a healthy dose of lovable idiots messing up (and subsequently trying to fix) all of time and space.
TL:DR: An incredibly fun, time-traveling adventure!
“Time flies when you’re plundering history”