Blog Tour: Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Rating: 4 stars
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: young adult science fiction
Format/Source: ARC, from the publisher

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book by the publisher. This does not affect the content of my review.

Time flies when you're plundering history.

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far's birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he's ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far's very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.

I am not a fan of time travel novels. Or most tv shows and movies, for that matter. The neurons required to unkink snarled timelines and solve paradox puzzles simply do not fire when I read or watch about time travelers. Wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff simply makes my brain hurt. But I'm pleased with Invictus, not only for its more easily followed depiction of time travel but also for presenting an engrossing story and a lovable band of misfits populating it.

I think the characters in Invictus are its best strength. The novel's pitch is Guardians of the Galaxy meets Doctor Who so that's a pretty tall order, but Far and his gang of time nerds are definitely a new favorite sci-fi squad. These characters are complex, interesting characters who pop off the stage and contain multitudes, but I do love that all of them have a quirk that's easily measured in Imogen's records: her hair, Gram's Tetris score, Priya's music, Far's ego. They each have a Thing that makes them immediately intriguing, but then there's substance and continued growth throughout Invictus backing it up. Group dynamics are a favorite aspect of any novel, and I absolutely would have loved to have seen more scenes of the group's adventures, especially misadventures and when they all quip at one another (okay, this is mostly Far and Imogen, but still. Love this kind of dynamic).

I also love that in this book, it's cool to be smart, to be a nerd about something, and each character shows that as well. Granted, if time travel or multidimensional travel ever become a thing, we definitely need the people doing it to be super smart so the world doesn't end. I love that Far is valedictorian of his class (at least before his final exam...), as is Eliot, Imogen is a history buff with a love of fashion, Priya is a medic AND mechanic (get a girl who can do both!), and Gram is a supergenius who can do Sexy Math.

The editor's note in the arc of Invictus says it's a time travel novel for people who don't like time travel, and that's true in that I did enjoy the novel, but it is still a time travel novel. I find Ryan's particular rules and physics of travel intriguing and distinct from others, which was a fun surprise, but I do admit there came a time when my brain short-circuited as it always does when considering the vagaries of jumping through time and space. A physicist I am not, but I can appreciate that there are people who can think that way and, even more, that there are authors who can create these worlds and these rules and move their characters around in the four-dimensional puzzle that is time.

I do have a couple of complaints, things that hold me back from absolutely loving Invictus. First, it's a dense novel. It moves really slowly, plot-wise, and it reads very slowly for a good portion. I remember looking down at page 200 or so and realizing a major plot point was STILL not revealed and being very frustrated. As much as I wanted to see some more adventures with the crew, I feel like Invictus took too long to get to the point, and it's really obvious to the reader that the point is being concealed. It's one thing to have a surprise; it's another to tell the reader that there is a surprise and then be completely obtuse about revealing it. Secondly, this is a fairly minor thing, but there are far too many made up curse words. Slang changes, which is made obvious by Imogen and Eliot's discussion of the history of vulgarity, but I found it super distracting to constantly see hash haze fex betch Crux shazm bluebox sprinkled in the pages. Shazm especially because it  is clunky and does not roll off the tongue, which seems counterintuitive to profane language. And I never quite understood what blubox was supposed to mean other than possibly a Doctor Who reference. Personal preference for sure here, but I could have lived without *most* of them.

Overall, I enjoyed Invictus. I was invested in the the characters and celebrated their triumphs, mourned their failures and their sorrows. I cried, which is always a good thing. Invictus is an exciting read that will have you dying to know what happens next, especially in the last 100 pages. If you're like me and don't typically pick up time travel books, Invictus may be the rare book that plays it just right. It definitely worked for me.

Purchase Links:

Tour Schedule:
Week One:
9/25: Mary Had a Little Book Blog

Week Two:

About the Author:
Ryan Graudin is the author of six young adult novels, including the Carnegie nominated Wolf By Wolf duology, Invictus and The Walled City. She resides near Charleston, South Carolina with her husband and wolf-dog. You can find her online at

Author Links:

3 winners will receive finished copies of Invictus. US only.


  1. I have loved Ryan's books so much. Walled City and the Wolf by Wolf books are among my favorites. Would love to win a hardcover of Invictus, Thanks for hosting!

    1. This was actually the first of Ryan's books that I've read, but Wolf by Wolf has been recommended a lot. I'll have to check it out!

  2. I have loved Ryan's books so much. Walled City and the Wolf by Wolf books are among my favorites. Would love to win a hardcover of Invictus, Thanks for hosting!