Invictus by Ryan Graudin – Review by Stephanie Galvan Russell

For fans of Dr. Who and Guardians of the Galaxy, Invictus is an invigorating and exciting book. For non-sci-fi loving people, Invictus is EVEN BETTER! It is a sci-fi/time travel story designed for people who don’t like sci-fi. I was incredibly lucky to sit next to Ryan Graudin at the 2017 Texas Library Conference Texas Tea, where she booktalked it as her upcoming book. I immediately ran to Little Brown and begged them for an ARC. (My apologies to the rep who probably thought I was crazy.)


Invictus is the name of a time travel ship captained by Farway Gaius McCarthy (Gaius was his father’s name. His father was a Roman gladiator). Farway was born outside of time, meaning he was born while his mother’s time travel ship was headed back from the past to its present. (Crazy, right?!)


Far was on track to be a time traveler from the academy when his final was sabotaged by another time traveler impersonating Marie Antoinette. Just when Far thinks that his dreams are dashed forever, he receives as offer to be a time traveler for a black-market ship where he and his crew travel back in time to steal artifacts from important events in history to be sold. The Invictus crew is made up of Far’s cousin, Imogen, who’s hair colors know no bounds;  his girlfriend, Priya, who is also the ship’s medical staff; his friend, Gram, who is obsessed with Tetris and “vintage” games; and Imogen’s pet red panda, Saffron. Each crew member brings a fun personality that readers will connect with and cheer for as the book goes on. Their dynamics reminded me of the quote “Friends are the family that you choose.”


During a heist on the Titanic, Far meets Marie Antoinette again! Readers learn more about her and why she is inherently obsessed with ruining Far’s missions while following the Invictus crew on a whirlwind adventure to save time.


Ryan Graudin builds the most simply intricate world I’ve ever read and made time travel easy to understand. She especially explained why time travel should be only used to observe and record and never tamper with the past. I guarantee that Invictus will grab you by the bootstraps and not let go! (If you are a Rick and Morty fan, you will appreciate the multi-verse theory in play in the book as well.)


Stephanie Galvan Russell is a middle school librarian living, working, and vlogging in Austin, Texas. She’s a member of the Texas Maverick Graphic Novel Reading List Committee, Intellectual Freedom Committee, and is a TLA Young Adult Reading Incentive Award Winner. Her goals are to spread information literacy and share her passion for books with the world. She is tormented by “Too many books, not enough centuries” (Jay Kristoff). You can find her at her vlog blog at or on Twitter and Instagram @lispylibrarian. She is blessed to have been a previous Nerdy blogger in 2015.