by Ryan Graudin

Genre: YA Science-Fiction
Published: September 26th 2017
by Little, Brown Books




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 had extremely high hopes for Invictus because I’m a huge fan of time travel books and I absolutely adored Ryan Graudin’s previous novels. Unfortunately, though, Invictus was rather underwhelming. I just didn’t feel that it lived up to the high standard Graudin set with her Wolf by Wolf duology (which I absolutely loved).

Invictus is set in a futuristic society where time travel is possible. When a strange event starts unraveling the fabric of time, a group of teenagers have to travel back in time to try to fix it before the it’s too late.

The plot was certainly the high point of the novel. The premise was creative and well thought-out, and, as a history buff, I was delighted by all the historical references scattered throughout the story. (My personal favorite was the chapter entitled “Let Them Eat Cake” after Marie Antoinette.)

The cast of characters is flamboyant and refreshing. Each character has their own quirks and traits that make them memorable and enjoyable. While the characters were entertaining to read about, I do wish they were just a bit more developed and complex. They felt rather one-dimensional and needed more layers to truly come alive.

The romance was also rather forgettable. There was nothing about the romance that was especially memorable or noteworthy, and it was hard to feel the chemistry between the two characters. As with many other young adult books, it felt like the romance was only added to appease a teenage audience – not out of true necessity.

Additionally, there were many unnecessary details and subplots in the story, which hindered the pacing. Some tighter, more concise editing would have helped emphasize the creative plot and added a layer of urgency and action to the story.

Unfortunately, Invictus was rather mediocre. I’d recommend reading Graudin’s other novel, Wolf by Wolf, instead. It is far superior to this in terms of both the characters and the romance. If you’re desperate for a well-written time travel novel, try All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill instead.


90 thoughts on “Invictus

    1. It’s good to know I’m not alone! The plot twists were a bit confusing too – I agree. It’s a shame, because Wolf by Wolf was absolutely fantastic and this just didn’t seem to quite reach that level. πŸ™

  1. Aww it’s a shame you didn’t enjoy this one much. I also loved the Wolf by Wolf duology and plan to give Invictus a read. The premise certainly sounds interesting, but feel like a book like this would need pretty strong characters to stand out from the other time travel books or shows out there.

    1. I agree Emma! Characterization is everything. I’m curious to see what you think of this if you do end up giving it a try. Thank you for stopping by and your lovely comment!

  2. Great review! I’m sorry you didn’t like this one! I hope to read my first Ryan Graudin book soon, but now I’ll probably start with Wolf by Wolf!

  3. This looks like a really interesting book! I love time travelling books as well. Although i’m sorry you didn’t like it all so much πŸ™ I get how disappointing that can be!

  4. I’m glad to see your honest review of Invictus. I have seen a lot of hype of this book and honestly, the cover just doesn’t win my attention. I haven’t read any books by this author so I’m glad to learn of her Wolf by Wolf. I’ll check it out. Thanks! and awesome review!

    1. Thank you for stopping by and leaving such a lovely comment Jasmine! πŸ™‚ Definitely give Wolf by Wolf a try – it’s amazing. πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you Alice! Definitely read All Our Yesterdays if you’re in the mood for a really good time travel book – it’s amazing. πŸ™‚

  5. Ohh I want to read this one but I’m also wary of time-travel books haha. And I STILL haven’t read Wolf by Wolf (I’ll do it this year though okay I swear). Sadness that this one let you down though, Zoe!!

  6. I’ve read a couple of reviews of people that were a bit underwhelmed by this which is a shame because I loved The Walled City! Ah well, I might still read it at some point…..

    1. The Walled City was fantastic too! I’d still give it a read if the concept sounds intriguing to you, but I probably wouldn’t put it at the top of your TBR.

  7. Love the concise review Zoe! β™₯️ I’ve heard a range of things about Invictus… I was thinking of picking it up for the time travel but those who love it seem to have qualifiers… a need for editing sounds spot on from your review!

  8. I really wanted to preorder this one, but I have such high expectations after Wolf By Wolf, I was afraid of being let down. I’m seeing a lot of less than stellar reviews for Invitcus and while I love the sound of the premise, it does sound like it leaves something to be desired. Will check this one out from the library instead. Thank you for the review.

    1. That’s what I was scared of too, because I absolutely loved Wolf by Wolf. Definitely give it a try from the library though. xD Thank YOU for always leaving the sweetest comments!

  9. I’m so sorry this didn’t work for you Zoe, it’s one of my more anticipated reads but now pushing it down that list a little in favour of Wolf By Wolf. It sounds awfully bland unfortunately. I love me some time travelling romance but All Our Yesterdays and even the Claudia Gray series set the bar pretty high. I’m glad you were still able to enjoy it somewhat Zoe, wonderful review!

    P.S. Loving the new look, super chic <3

    1. Thank you Kelly! Thank you for always being so sweet and supportive. All Our Yesterdays definitely does set the bar really high, and I think that’s part of the reason this was so disappointing. πŸ™

    1. Definitely do give Wolf a Wolf a try – it’s fantastic. πŸ™‚ I hope you end up enjoying it as much as I did if you ever get a chance to read it.

  10. These book graphics that you use! OMG, that’s so cool πŸ™‚ love your theme.

    That’s too bad you found Invictus rather mediocre, especially because it’s quite hyped up (at least it was a little while ago). Makes me feel better about the fact that I don’t have it though πŸ™‚

  11. Aw, I am so sorry that this was a letdown for you! I liked it, but I agree with a lot of what you said, too. The romance part especially. It just didn’t add anything, I didn’t feel anything. I did enjoy the secondary characters’ romance though. But the other one could have definitely been left out. And I agree that I did want more character development too. Great review! I will have to read All Our Yesterdays for sure, and Wolf by Wolf!

    1. YES. It’s a shame about the romance because the romance in Wolf by Wolf was SO, SO good. πŸ™ Thank you! <3 And definitely read those two - I feel like you'll really like them Shannon.

  12. I’m sad you didn’t enjoy this one more as this in my pile of ARCs to catch up on reading. I was also excited because I love Graudin’s writing so the fact you were bothered by elements of the book is annoying I’ve heard plenty of good things so this one is still going to be given a chance but I’ll make sure not to go in with my expectations too high. I’m just excited for a time travel book. I like seeing different ideas of time travel so I’m hoping to enjoy this one.

    1. Time travel is the best! (Have you read All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill? If not, definitely give it a try – it’s amazing. xD) Thank you! <3

  13. This is interesting because I didn’t like Wolf by Wolf as much as you did I bet, so seeing you not like this either means I’ll love it, or I’ll hate it? Hahaha. But I do really love time travel, and I read every book that has time travel in it, so I’ll probably end up getting to this someday. And I did read All Our Yesterdays! I remember rating it only 3 stars, but looking back, I liked it more than I said I did πŸ˜›

  14. I absolutely loved Wolf by Wolf when I read a few years ago, so I was quite curious about this one, but unsure if I wanted to read it. It’s too bad it was a letdown for you, but now I know I’ll skip this one, so thank you I guess. As always, great review, Zoe! πŸ™‚

  15. Oh no! I really liked the blurb on this one but time travel books can be rather hit or miss for me… And this with the characterisation doesn’t sound like it would be great for me πŸ™

    Sorry this one didn’t live up to your expectations. Wolf by Wolf does sound good though!

  16. Sorry it wasn’t everything you were hoping for. I still really want to read this one. Graudin had me when she tweeted that it was Doctor Who x Firefly. You could tell me that about any book and I’d be IN!

  17. I’ve heard about this book in a haul or a wrap up. I haven’t read the author’s books before but I’ll check this out.

    Also, I like your new design!

  18. I liked this one myself, so I think I’ll have to give Wolf by Wolf a go. I found this book to be great fun, but without any real substance. I actually preferred it when it was based in more modern or futuristic settings, because I didn’t feel like Graudin described the historical periods enough to make me feel like I was there.

    1. I’m curious to see what you think of Wolf by Wolf if you end up giving it a try! πŸ™‚ I completely agree though – it was a lot of fun despite the flaws. And sometimes that’s exactly what we need in a book, right?

  19. Lovely review, Zoe! I’m sorry to hear this wasn’t as great as you expected it to be. I’ve been seeing some great reviews, and other mixed reviews for this book, which makes me wonder whether to read it or not… Still intrigued by this one, and the whole time-travel aspect, though. I’ll have to think about adding it to my TBR…or not, ahah πŸ™‚ thank you so much for sharing this!

    1. I’d say definitely add it to your TBR, but maybe not at the top. It’s a nice read for if you have a few spare hours and want something entertaining, but it isn’t especially mind-blowing. Thank YOU for the lovely comment! <3

  20. I’ve been curious about this one! Sorry to hear it was a bit disappointing. The premise and the time travel element certainly had my interest too, but I can totally get the characters not being developed enough, and the lackluster romance. That can make it hard to really enjoy the book.

    Thanks for the recommendation of All Our Yesterdays too. I remember seeing that one and thinking it looked great…

  21. I’m so sorry to hear that this was rather underwhelming! I’ve been looking forward to this one too, as I also loved the Wolf by Wolf duology. I’ll probably pick this one up anyway at some point, but it’s not really a priority now. Great review – and thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  22. Sorry you didn’t enjoy it as much as you expected πŸ™ I personally really liked it, although I did have a few problems with it. I haven’t read any of the author’s previous works, but now I’m thinking of reading Wolf and Wolf! Great review <3

    1. I’m so glad you liked it so much! I have a feeling I would have liked it a bit more if I read it before I read Wolf by Wolf (like you). I’m curious to see what you think of Wolf by Wolf if you end up reading it. πŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping by! <3

  23. OMG I WAS LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS BOOK T_T So sorry you didn’t get to like this as much. Thank you for visiting the blog !! I totally missed all your posts ! I think it’s the new setting notificiation thing? :O I can’t seem to find where to follow you on WordPress like before T_T Is there a way?

    1. Thank you so much for your sweet comment Trang – it made my day! <3 I've added a WordPress subscription widget in my sidebar. πŸ™‚

    1. If you haven’t read Wolf by Wolf yet, definitely start there – it’s absolutely amazing. πŸ™‚ This is good too, just not quite at the level of Wolf by Wolf. xD

    1. That’s what I’ve been trying to ask myself. I think it probably would have been a bit more enjoyable if I read it before Wolf by Wolf. Thank you! <3

  24. When you were describing the story, you almost had me ready to read it, but then when you mentioned your woes about the characters and the romance, I was a little disappointed. I am character driven reader, so I really need them done well. I am also not a fan of overwritten books. I can be somewhat terse at times, but I attribute that to my science background — scientific writing doesn’t tend to be overdone, just the facts. Sorry this one let you down.

  25. Interesting! I’m in the middle of the Wolf by Wolf series right now and am rather impressed by it. My previous experience with Graudin’s work was All that Glows which was pretty mediocre so I was really impressed with Wolf by Wolf. I think that’s a hard work to follow up so I can understand your disappointment with this one.

  26. I was worried this would happen. I adore the Wolf by Wolf duology and when I found out she had a new book released this year, I was ecstatic, but I was worried that I’d set the bar too high. Regardless, I’m still going to give this book a chance and hope for the best. I’m sorry it was an underwhelming read for you. Lovely review. πŸ˜€

  27. I haven’t read anything by this author, but from your review and the comments, I’m guessing I should start with Wolf by Wolf.

    I’m also a big fan of time travel books! I recently read A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray (not time travel, but dimensional travel), and it was really good! I have such high standards for books with time travel because I’ve already read so many that are amazing.

  28. Aw, I’m so sad about this book being so underwhelming! Graudin has definitely had hits so far, and the hype for this book was unbelievable. I’ll have to lower my standards when I get the chance to pick this one up. (Especially with the romance and characters) Nevertheless, wonderful review!

  29. Great review, Zoe! I agree with you. Invictus was pretty underwhelming and the opposite of memorable. Unfortunately, this has been an issue I’ve experinced with both of Ryan Graudin’s books so far, though I have yet to read Wolf by Wolf which is supposed to be amazing.

  30. I have yet to read anything by this author, but had Invictus on my ‘to-read’ list. I’m sad that multiple people have reported that this book is only mildly entertaining. Great review! Thanks for sharing.

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