Hot Best Seller

All Men of Genius

Availability: Ready to download

Inspired by two of the most beloved works by literary masters, All Men of Genius takes place in an alternate Steampunk Victorian London, where science makes the impossible possible. Violet Adams wants to attend Illyria College, a widely renowned school for the most brilliant up-and-coming scientific minds, founded by the late Duke Illyria, the greatest scientist of the Vict Inspired by two of the most beloved works by literary masters, All Men of Genius takes place in an alternate Steampunk Victorian London, where science makes the impossible possible. Violet Adams wants to attend Illyria College, a widely renowned school for the most brilliant up-and-coming scientific minds, founded by the late Duke Illyria, the greatest scientist of the Victorian Age. The school is run by his son, Ernest, who continues his father's policy that the small, exclusive college remain male-only. Violet sees her opportunity when her father departs for America. She disguises herself as her twin brother, Ashton, and gains entry. But keeping the secret of her sex won't be easy, not with her friend Jack's constant habit of pulling pranks, and especially not when the duke's young ward, Cecily, starts to develop feelings for Violet's alter ego, "Ashton." Not to mention blackmail, mysterious killer automata, and the way Violet's pulse quickens whenever the young duke, Ernest, speaks to her. She soon realizes that it's not just keeping her secret until the end of the year faire she has to worry about: it's surviving that long.


Compare

Inspired by two of the most beloved works by literary masters, All Men of Genius takes place in an alternate Steampunk Victorian London, where science makes the impossible possible. Violet Adams wants to attend Illyria College, a widely renowned school for the most brilliant up-and-coming scientific minds, founded by the late Duke Illyria, the greatest scientist of the Vict Inspired by two of the most beloved works by literary masters, All Men of Genius takes place in an alternate Steampunk Victorian London, where science makes the impossible possible. Violet Adams wants to attend Illyria College, a widely renowned school for the most brilliant up-and-coming scientific minds, founded by the late Duke Illyria, the greatest scientist of the Victorian Age. The school is run by his son, Ernest, who continues his father's policy that the small, exclusive college remain male-only. Violet sees her opportunity when her father departs for America. She disguises herself as her twin brother, Ashton, and gains entry. But keeping the secret of her sex won't be easy, not with her friend Jack's constant habit of pulling pranks, and especially not when the duke's young ward, Cecily, starts to develop feelings for Violet's alter ego, "Ashton." Not to mention blackmail, mysterious killer automata, and the way Violet's pulse quickens whenever the young duke, Ernest, speaks to her. She soon realizes that it's not just keeping her secret until the end of the year faire she has to worry about: it's surviving that long.

30 review for All Men of Genius

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nafiza

    I am not in the habit of mincing my words so I’m going to come right out and say it. Reading this was a painful experience. Not an impossible feat (like Shatter Me was but that’s another story) but very, very painful. But I persevered and completed it just so I can review it with a clean conscience. I was sold on the book the moment I read the synopsis. I found the title to be particularly witty (All Men of Genius, only it’s a woman’s genius we are going to be seeing, get it?) and I thought that I am not in the habit of mincing my words so I’m going to come right out and say it. Reading this was a painful experience. Not an impossible feat (like Shatter Me was but that’s another story) but very, very painful. But I persevered and completed it just so I can review it with a clean conscience. I was sold on the book the moment I read the synopsis. I found the title to be particularly witty (All Men of Genius, only it’s a woman’s genius we are going to be seeing, get it?) and I thought that the title reflected the content of the novel. So after lusting after the book for a week, I decided that eating was overrated and bought it. I needed to have it, okay? None of my libraries have it and none of them are considering getting it so…I had no choice. I’m telling you this so my review is framed in a way that will let you understand why I was so colossally disappointed. I didn’t read this book expecting the worst. In fact, I began this book with a fervent hope that it would be insanely awesome. Unfortunately, no one was listening to my prayers. The biggest obstacle I faced in my enjoyment to this novel was the writing. None of the characters are ever allowed to develop. The author either thinks readers are too dimwitted or he doesn’t trust our ability to decipher the subtext, that is, what’s happening between the lines. One of the greatest reasons I love reading is because while a good author builds the foundation for his/her story, the details are left for the reader to decode, interpret. You are allowed to draw what conclusions you will because that is what reading is. A personal affair. We are not given the chance to do so in All Men of Genius. The author insists on spelling out how each character feels, what his thoughts (and hence feelings may mean), his motivations, his dreams,every single thing. It’s like whatever free voice there may have been in the characters is choked off by the narrator’s (interfering and jarring) voice taking over. There is no subtlety and there is no flow to the narrative. And it pissed me off. So, the writing was bad enough but couple that with flat, one dimensional characters (who aren’t able to be more because, well, the writing refuses to let them). They are not fleshed out, they are not interesting and they read more like representations of stock characters than original characters. Is this because this is a conflation of two different classic novels? I have no idea. I just know that any time an author uses “everyone laughs” or any other generalizing sentence, he/she kills whatever individuality that may have been present in the novel. If you want your characters to sound and act like real people, do not, seriously just don’t, lump them all together when narrating their reactions. Not all people will laugh and even if they do, you don’t need to say it because you risk your narrative sounding campy. Moving on from the characters, let’s talk about the plot. Which is predictable and lacking twists. So this is a steampunk novel and I realize that you can’t be minutely versed in all aspects of mechanical engineering but if you are going to write about a genius, you should at least pretend in a sincere enough manner that your genius evinces her intelligence persuasively. The fact that she can make such complicated machines in so little time is not just improbable but also ridiculous and takes away from the believability of the novel. And the housekeeper becoming proficient at all things mechanical? Is it really that easy? It felt that the author did not do as much research on his topic as he needed to and usually, I don’t notice such things but when your subject requires a lot of jargon, or at least description of mechanical parts etc, you can’t help but notice the lack of it. The romance. Oh. My. God. I think I mentioned that this book has the year’s worst love interest ever. Violet is, I believe, around fifteen years old. The love interest is no other than the “headmaster” of the school she is attending in disguise. He is also around thirty years old though he behaves like he is a hundred. A bare handful of meetings and Violet is falling in love. And oh dude, it is SO interesting that the narrative voice chimes in that “Violet doesn’t want to be in the company of other students because she doesn’t to feel attraction to them” or something to that effect. Or, on another occasion, insinuates that she can control whom she is attracted to because of course, with a college full of handsome men more her age, she is going to fall for the headmaster who is about as appealing as a turnip. I was also, deeply, uncomfortable with the ease with which the casual killing of animals was related. They feel "sorry" about it but it’s for science so it’s okay. Um, no, it’s not. It felt vicious, callous and whatever little regard I had for the story, died along with the animals. In conclusion, in case you haven’t figured it out by now and I need to spell it out (like the book does), I wouldn’t recommend this novel to you. I really wouldn’t. If you want to read steampunk, read The Spiritwalker Trilogy by Kate Elliott. Vastly superior in all ways that matter.

  2. 4 out of 5

    All Things Urban Fantasy

    Don’t make my mistake of picking up ALL MEN OF GENIUS when you’re on your way to bed. Hours later, bleary-eyed and sleepy, I was only halfway through the book and still fighting to keep reading, unable to put it down. Violet, Ashton, Jack and the befuddled Duke captivated me from the get go, and that was before the other Illyrian students even had a chance to win me over. Even if I hadn’t fallen in love with the characters, I would have been a goner for the world-building. Rosen gives science the Don’t make my mistake of picking up ALL MEN OF GENIUS when you’re on your way to bed. Hours later, bleary-eyed and sleepy, I was only halfway through the book and still fighting to keep reading, unable to put it down. Violet, Ashton, Jack and the befuddled Duke captivated me from the get go, and that was before the other Illyrian students even had a chance to win me over. Even if I hadn’t fallen in love with the characters, I would have been a goner for the world-building. Rosen gives science the same flash and dazzle as magic at Hogwarts, but with more adult consequences. Violet’s passion is machinery, but her best friend Jack is drawn to the biological sciences. “Animal testing” doesn’t even begin to cover the transplants and experiments that the students undertake. While Jack learns new and exciting things in college, he also comes to the realization that an idolized professor has no real empathy for the animals he augments. Watching Jack find his own confidence was a subtle note in the background of Violet’s story, and one of many examples of how Rosen’s attention to detail manages to portray some incredibly realistic and important issues amidst all of the hilarity and science. Violet and her friends struggle with gender roles, sexual prejudice, and double standards galore. And while Violet’s crusade to enter the all-male Illyria College is a plan with a deadline (Violet is going to reveal her ruse at the end of her first year) her brother Ashton feels that he will always have to conceal his homosexuality from society and Miriam has no expectations that she’ll ever be able to marry the man she loves due to her dark skin and her religion. ALL MEN OF GENIUS is a blend of adult issues and fairy tale optimism. The realistic issues that the characters face by no means drag down the tone of the book, but neither does Rosen pull any punches about these prejudices and obstacles. I hope so badly that ALL MEN OF GENIUS is going to be the first of many books in this parallel universe of magical science, as there are many more happy endings that I would enjoy reading. Sexual Content: Kissing, references to sex, rape, prostitution, and a threesome.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Jack laughed. “What’s so funny?” “That all you would see in flowers are scientific principles,” he said, “even when a man tried to show you their beauty.” “But that is their beauty,” Violet said, pursing her lips. “Really, I don’t know what it is with your gender, that they must divide science and beauty into separate fields. As if the stars and planets themselves are lovely, but to map the way they turn takes that away from them. In my opinion, the way a planet spins only adds to its beauty.” “Perh Jack laughed. “What’s so funny?” “That all you would see in flowers are scientific principles,” he said, “even when a man tried to show you their beauty.” “But that is their beauty,” Violet said, pursing her lips. “Really, I don’t know what it is with your gender, that they must divide science and beauty into separate fields. As if the stars and planets themselves are lovely, but to map the way they turn takes that away from them. In my opinion, the way a planet spins only adds to its beauty.” “Perhaps you are right,” Jack said. “Of course I’m right,” Violet said. *** Violet Adams is a genius. She is also a woman. In Lev AC Rosen’s variant steampunk-inspired Victorian-era London, this caries with it certain limitations—chief among them, the ability to gain entry into one of the world’s foremost scientific institutions, Illyria College. Thus, with aid from her brother Ashton, an “invert” with a penchant for their carriage driver, Antony, and their mutual, lustful companion, Jack, Violet embarks on a year-long scheme to not only gain entry into the college of Illyria by becoming a young man in both dress and mannerisms, but to take the school, its faculty, and her fellow students by storm. She aims to cement herself in their eyes as one of the greatest inventors of their age, and then to reveal herself to them as a member of the supposedly weaker sex—one that, for a variety of reasons (not limited to the distraction a woman would be suspected of causing for the other male students), has never before been allowed entry into the student populace. Claiming inspiration from both The Importance of Being Earnest and Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, All Men of Genius wears its social and aesthetic trappings with pride. Rosen writes his characters with extreme delicacy, constructing a cast of characters that at once is familiar yet unique unto itself. Throughout the book, hints to other literary venues reveal themselves in tiny increments: the individual professors and their marked, Harry Potter-esque mannerisms (the stuttering, cowardly Curio; the brusque and abusive Bracknell; the slightly dim-witted, partially mechanized Bunburry); the partially developed subplot of Curio’s chemically-induced Jekyll and Hyde personality conflict. Though some of these elements bear a resemblance to the works of others, Rosen is adept at skewing their personalities enough to stand on their own, strong and wholly realized within the world he has crafted. The world itself is another accomplishment. Rather than embrace the full spectrum of clichés that has dogged the steampunk genre in recent years, Rosen peppers his world with modest accoutrements—essentials, here and there, to enforce the revisionist history of his vision of London (airships, a proliferation of clockwork configurations and contraptions, automata that are capable of functioning and mimicking human actions). The end result is a more accessible variation of the steampunk genre, one that offers a missing link of accessibility—elements of this world can be traced to our own with considerably less effort and suspension of disbelief than others of its ilk. One of the more intriguing aspects of the story is the relaxed way in which Rosen discusses homosexuality, or “invert” status. Through several relationships, including a rather complicated love triangle between Ernest, the Duke of Illyria, and both of Violet’s gendered personas, Rosen introduces but never lingers on the discussion of homosexuality and the social mistrust it entails in his alternate Victorian-era London. Instead of approaching the subject with a limited, predictable hand, one that could be used to mirror the issue of sexuality with the struggle for acceptance it still faces today, Rosen uses it more as a tool for further dismantling the highly stratified existence of his world and Violet’s actions to cross such barriers. Though creative and engaging on several levels, All Men of Genius does have a few flaws. The book’s primary antagonist, the bullish and manipulative Malcolm Volio, feels somewhat underdeveloped, which makes his murderous intentions in the novel’s climax feel a little more vicious than he was seemingly capable of. Additionally, the Society that is alluded to on several occasions, which seeks to overthrow the Queen and establish the dominance of intellectual, scientific men over all others, remains largely in the shadows, implying a larger plot that, one hopes, will reveal itself in further entries in this series. Lastly, and this is a very minor complaint, some of the book’s relationships feel too tightly and unrealistically resolved by the conclusion, leading me to feel as if Rosen wanted to clear his slate of all detritus should he decide to write a follow-up. That being said, my criticisms do not detract from the wonderment of Illyria, nor do they misrepresent the playfulness of the characters and the conflicted game of identity transposition Violet has chosen to engage in. While All Men of Genius occasionally suffers from its inspirations, Rosen’s novel remains sure-footed and confident enough to stand on its own as a welcome entry into the steampunk genre—one that uses the conventions of its genre to its advantage through restraint, offering a strong, character-focused narrative that does not suffocate under the weight of its own aesthetic ambitions.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Edward Lazellari

    The last steam punk novel I read was The Difference Engine, and that was over 10 years ago. I liked it well enough, but the genre didn't catch on with me. I think had I read All Men Of Genius by Lev AC Rosen, though, steam punk would have been more consistent fare in my literary diet. This sideways retelling of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night is a fun, witty tale, with characters you wish you could befriend and drink with at a dingy London pub. Rosen's devotion to character does not detract from the The last steam punk novel I read was The Difference Engine, and that was over 10 years ago. I liked it well enough, but the genre didn't catch on with me. I think had I read All Men Of Genius by Lev AC Rosen, though, steam punk would have been more consistent fare in my literary diet. This sideways retelling of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night is a fun, witty tale, with characters you wish you could befriend and drink with at a dingy London pub. Rosen's devotion to character does not detract from the main tenant of steam punk, the revisualization of a more scientifically advanced Victorian world. His England is wondrously detailed, original, and still maintains an element of mystery. If I have one criticism, it's that I want to know even more about the parts of this world that were not mentioned in the story. The school of science where the lion's share of the action takes place is architecturally well thought out. (I've never been to London, but feel as though the place as described must exist in some form or another.) The comradery and competition within the school is spiritually reminiscent of Harry Potter's Hogwarts, only with the eccentric students pursuing scientific discovery instead of magic spells. Alliances are made early on between the students, with Violet and her friend Jack falling in with a noble crowd suggestive of Gryffindor. I don't want to go into much detail about the story itself because this is really a journey best discovered by letting it unfold. The short of it is that the protagonist, a young woman who's been denied the opportunity to study science due to her sex, is actually one of the great scientific minds of her age. Sufficed to say, she doesn't take "no" from the school's admission board very well and concocts a scheme to get her education anyway, at the risk of massive reprisal. Violet is a heroine you can't help but root for. Despite her unorthodox methods of getting into the school, and the doubts and tribulation that come along with her plan, Rosen never loses the beauty of Violet's innocence despite her intellect, and keeps her true to herself. You just want to jump into the pages and help Violet and the gang in their adventure. I would love to see this book as a movie or television series. Violet, as a character that uses her mind and promotes the benefits of study and education, would make an excellent and entertaining heroine for girls (and boys) to aspire to be like. Maybe Spielberg or J.J. Abrams will pick up All Men of Genius and be inspired to make it happen.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Wealhtheow

    Viola Adams has a gift for invention, and the best way to hone her skills is by attending the prestigious Illyria College. Illyria only accepts male students, so of course she masquerades as a boy to attend. While there, she runs into wacky professors, sinister clockwork automatons, and the far-too-sexy-for-her-good Duke. While she and the Duke battle their attraction for each other (he assuming she's a boy, she wanting to focus on her inventions), the Duke's ward Cecily falls in love with Viola Viola Adams has a gift for invention, and the best way to hone her skills is by attending the prestigious Illyria College. Illyria only accepts male students, so of course she masquerades as a boy to attend. While there, she runs into wacky professors, sinister clockwork automatons, and the far-too-sexy-for-her-good Duke. While she and the Duke battle their attraction for each other (he assuming she's a boy, she wanting to focus on her inventions), the Duke's ward Cecily falls in love with Viola. Meanwhile, one of Viola's fellow students plans to take over the world! It's a bit like Twelfth Night mixed up in a blender with the Importance of Being Ernest, except without the transversive sexual tension of the first or the humor of either. The world building is odd--I could never tell exactly when it was supposed to take place. Judging from Ada Lovelace's age, it should be 1882, but it never felt like it, not even close. All historical details are kept very vague, which is frustrating to someone like me when reading an alternate history. I want to know exactly what's alternate about it! The steampunk feels pasted on, and it works like magic, not science. For someone supposedly obsessed with mechanical devices, Viola certainly thinks about them very little. She doesn't seem to learn a thing at Illyria, either--she spends all her days working on her own project, without needing professors' help, and her nights drinking with friends. Why then go to such effort to attend the college? She's never challenged, never has to study hard or singe her fingers on a mis-wired fiddly bit. Her inventing feels like a set piece, or like a randomly assigned character trait. (One big point in this book's favor: it would have been very easy for Viola to be the Sole Exceptional Woman, but in fact she's surrounded by other women, from the girlish chemist Cecily to the sensible prostitute Fiona. There were, if anything, *too many* characters, but a good number of them were women.) The plot is silly, like the professors are silly, in this very consciously twee style that apes Lemony Snicket's without approaching his light touch. There's no narrative tension, and the pacing is soooo slooooow. I really, really wanted to like this book, but the construction was just too lightweight and slapdash. I'd love to read a silly book with gender play and marauding robots, but with characters that read more genuinely, and humor that actually works.

  6. 4 out of 5

    TheBookSmugglers

    Original review posted on The Book Smugglers HERE First Impressions: Ana: All Men of Genius has been marketed as a Steampunk retelling of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. Well, I love Steampunk (when done well) and the two aforementioned plays are my favourites by their respective authors so I was super excited to read this. At the same time, I was quite wary as there is this really thin line separating great homage from simple reproduction. I need not Original review posted on The Book Smugglers HERE First Impressions: Ana: All Men of Genius has been marketed as a Steampunk retelling of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. Well, I love Steampunk (when done well) and the two aforementioned plays are my favourites by their respective authors so I was super excited to read this. At the same time, I was quite wary as there is this really thin line separating great homage from simple reproduction. I need not have worried: Mr Rosen’s book is basically made of awesome and I loved every single second of it. In fact, you will have to excuse me while I wax poetic all over this review. Thea: I remember catching wind of this title right before BEA and then excitedly telling Ana that this sounded like an awesome candidate for a joint review – there’s the steampunk goodness PLUS the wonderful literary allusions/inspirations, not to mention the fun cover and clever title. It is, in short, the perfect amalgam of things that we Smugglers love. I went into this book expecting a delightful romantic comedy of errors and a lighthearted romp through a steampunkified Victorian London – and I am happy to report that All Men of Genius delivers exactly that, with some surprising depth to boot. On the Plot: Ana: Violet Adams is a brilliant inventor and mechanical genius who would love nothing more than to attend the world-famous Illyria College. Unfortunately for Violet, the College will not accept women, who are regarded by society as the lesser gender. But that will not stop Violet and aided by her twin brother Ashton and their best friend Jack, she comes up with scheme to masquerade as her brother and attend the colleague: her goal is to become the College’s best student and at the end of the year, reveal herself as a woman. Things get a little more complicated when Ernest, the Duke of Illyria and the headmaster of the College, becomes infatuated with Violet-as-Ashton (who reciprocates the feeling much to her own dismay) at the same time that his ward Cecily also develops feelings for the student. Violet has to deal with all of this and attend the lessons and concoct the experiment that will prove her genius amongst serious competition with other students. Meanwhile, there is something afoot in the labyrinth beneath the College where long lost secrets still dwell. I can’t even begin to express how much I loved this book. In terms of the plot it follows Violet and her friends during this one year at College and it deals with several different threads. In this alternate universe London, the College is a centre for scientific experiments in a proper Steampunk manner featuring not only automata and steam-powered machines but also biological/medical advancements in genetics that allow (terrible) experimentations with animals and even with human beings. As an aside, this is probably my only main criticism of the book: that there is little ethical questioning about this (although some of the characters do show some horror to what some of the students are doing) but since learning that there will be a sequel, I hope this will be addressed somehow. There is also the mystery of what is going on in the basement of the school which may or may not relate to a group of Mad Scientists that wish for World Nomination and that sounds a bit trite because well, not all Science Fiction needs to feature the mad conspiracies. BUT it not only kept me going and what’s the best thing about this, is that the eventual revelation is completely anti-climatic and I totally loved that it was so. It not only fit the story but more to the point it fit its mood and atmosphere. And then of course, there is the scheme itself and how to keep Violet’s identity a secret from everybody; there is all the falling in love and falling out of love and love returned and love spurned. Most of it is a comedy of manners and a comedy of errors and I am a sucker for both especially when done with such aplomb. I mean, I loved everything about it: the writing, the narrative style which features an almost omniscient narrator, the banter between the characters and their adventures. This is where the novel follows the original plays very closely – if you are familiar with either play, you will know exactly where the story is going and who ends up with each other (well, more or less since Ashton don’t really play his original role, but more on that later). But what fascinated me the most is that even with that, this story was still fresh and original and the author’s own not only because of the Steampunk elements but because of how it developed. For example, it is very common in Shakespearian plays for characters to fall in love at first sight and this happens here when Jack falls in love with Cecily but she totally calls him on that – how is it possible that he can love her at first sight without knowing her? More than that though, I loved how the story was set in a somewhat similar Victorian London and despite the scientific advancements, it was still a society with prejudices and sexism. I thought the author was at extremely ease with exploring and examining subtly and with compassion those issues, dealing with gender bias, sexism, racism and homophobia really well. To sum up: All Men of Genius is charming, fun, funny, romantic and as the English would say, totally my cup of tea. Thea: What Ana said. If you’re familiar with Twelfth Night and The Importance of Being Earnest, you can basically guess how All Men of Genius plays out. I loved the allusions, both obvious and subtle, to each play; Violet’s invention of a mechanical perambulator (in which neither a baby nor a novel can be forgotten or switched); the phonetic similarities between Ashton/Sebastian, Violet/Viola, Miriam/Maria, the delightful “Malcom Volio” for Malvolio; and so on and so forth. But more than the similarities in names and plot devices, I loved that this hybrid version of Wilde’s and the Bard’s comedy of mistaken identities has a much deeper examination of sexism, sexuality, and status. It’s actually incredibly impressive that Mr. Rosen is able to stay so close to the source material while translating it to a context that is both engrossing speculative fiction AND a bitingly relevant societal critique. Like Ana, I was easily drawn in by the comedic elements of this story – Violet, dressed as a man, heads to Illyria to fulfill her lifelong dream and prove that a woman is just as eligible for a career in the sciences as a man. Like her inspirational Shakespearean counterpoint Viola, Violet defies convention in order to find a place in a society that forces women into set roles – and she’s not the only one to do so. Her twin brother, Ashton, also plays within the niceties towards outward facing society, but is an unapologetic “invert” (the Victorian term for homosexual) that loves as he wills – which is freaking awesome. There’s also Cecily, the sixteen year old ward (the embodiment both her Earnest namesake and Olivia from Twelfth Night) who is beautiful and believes herself to be in love with Violet-as-Ashton. But rather than stunting her character as a love-struck girl, Mr. Rosen gives her a voice beyond that of the blandly naive young ward and shows that part of the reason she falls in love with “Ashton” is because “he” treats her as an equal and admires her scientific skill and know-how. There’s also Miriam, Cecily’s governess, who is so much more than her Twelfth Night counterpart, Maria, with her desire for freedom, both socially and sexually. Long story short – I loved the way that Mr. Rosen managed to pay tribute to the plays that inspired this novel, but managed to make them relevant and thematically brilliant by dealing with sensitive issues of gender, sexuality, and social norms. But let’s not forget about the Speculative Fiction element! After all, this is a steampunk novel set in an alternate Victorian London. Like Ana says, I think the charm of this book in terms of world/setting is in that Illyria is not a mere college devoted to the creation of dirigibles and automata. While Violet IS a mechanical genius, Illyria allows for other kinds of brilliance – from the genetically/biologically ambitious (Victor Frankenstein would have been gleefully at home here) to those who long to gaze at the stars and divine the meanings of their celestial movements. The only plot element that I felt was slightly undercooked was that of young Volio and his nefarious schemes. The mystery of the school’s labyrinthine corridors and the secrets they harbor are the underlying impetus for the climax of the novel, and while it works in a wonderfully absurdist Wilde-esque way, it felt a bit of an easy way to pin everything on a main villain. Plus, by the end of the novel we only really learn a tiny bit about the mysterious society of Illyria – but as there’s a sequel in the works, I’m certain more will come to light in a future installment. On the Characters: Ana: If I loved the plot because it was so close to the originals, I loved the characters all the more because this is where All Men of Genius deviates from the original stories the most because the author took some of the characters into different paths and gave some of them voices. A significant difference for example comes with Ashton, Violet’s twin brother who, in this story, is gay and although he is a bit of a secondary character, there is enough exploration of his difficult situation in a society that doesn’t accept queer people. At the same time, I loved how sister and his friends accepted his sexual orientation without any problems whatsoever. There is quite a diverse cast of characters, the majority of them beautifully rendered in depth. I even felt that the villain had his reasons (but that might be because I secretly always felt bad for Malvolio in Shakespeare’s play). I loved the bittersweet relationship between another young, Sir Toby and the older Governess Miriam. I loved that Miriam was given a personality separate to what was happening to her ward Cecily, that she is just like Violet, an independent woman who wants to be able to do more with her life and be as free to love and have fun as she wants. There is this beautiful scene where Violet – just like Miriam- muses about the simple pleasure of going out with friends to a tavern to drink and be merry, a pleasure that is denied to her because she is a woman. And I loved that – I loved every single female character in this book because they had personalities and arcs of their own independently of any male counterpart even though all of them were involved in a romantic storyline. This to me, is awesome. Thea: I completely and wholeheartedly agree. There are many familiar elements and homages paid in All Men of Genius, which makes those differences all the more potent. With his portrayal of Violet, Mr. Rosen gives our heroine not only the pluck and survival instincts of Viola, but also takes into account the context of Victorian England and prevailing sexism. Should Violet be caught in her disguise, she, like other women who dared to pose as men in order to gain an education, would be thrown in prison indefinitely (or worse). I loved that Violet addresses and weighs these possibilities against her own actions and makes the conscious decision to go to Illyria, because the stakes are so high. I also loved that while Violet discovers freedom when she poses as a man, she also discovers her own desire to be and grow as a woman. The balance is wonderfully wrought, and I loved the finesse and skill that Mr. Rosen shows his heroine. I also have to agree with Ana that all of the female characters in this piece are fantastic and my easy favorites – Cecily grows in her own confidences and becomes a young woman, but it is the widowed Miriam that captured my heart. A governess, a widow, but still a young woman yearning for freedom and life outside of marriage, Miriam’s quest for happiness was completely unexpected (to me) and added a depth and nuance to a novel that was for the large part a sparkling, light comedy. I also adored Ashton and his support for his sister and his resolve to be happy, just as I loved the easygoing prankster Jack, who also grows and learns what it means to truly love someone. Finally, there’s the Duke of Illyria himself, the Ernest of this piece (who is also equal parts Orsino). Ernest is a sympathetic hero that one can’t help but feel for – romantic and soft-spoken, his romance with Viola-as-Ashton (and as Viola) is hilarious and heartfelt. There’s a kiss that literally comes out of nowhere that had me gleefully laughing, and I’m kind of glad that Lev Rosen goes there (I always wondered about the attraction between Orsino and “Sebastian” in Twelfth Night, and I think the way it is handled here, with much introspection, is very clever indeed). Final Thoughts, Observations & Rating: Ana: As you can see, I loved this book with all my heart to the point I can hardly contain myself. It’s been a while since I had so much unreserved fun reading a book. All I can say now is that All Men of Genius is an Ana-Book through and through and I hugged it when I finished reading it. It has a secure spot on my top 10 this year. Thea: I also truly loved the book, and like Ana, had a very fun time reading it. Absolutely recommended to all, and a Notable Read of 2011.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lexie

    Prelim Review: As a big time fan of both Twelfth Night and The Importance of Being Earnest, plus steampunk, this was a natural fit for me to enjoy. I had met the author at BEA this year during a double signing with Edward Lazellari for TOR (my publisher for life), but knew nothing about the book. However soon as I began walking away from the table I looked at the backcover and was like 'HOW COULD I NOT KNOW OF THIS?' and almost turned around to fangirl at Rosen just on the grounds of what the bo Prelim Review: As a big time fan of both Twelfth Night and The Importance of Being Earnest, plus steampunk, this was a natural fit for me to enjoy. I had met the author at BEA this year during a double signing with Edward Lazellari for TOR (my publisher for life), but knew nothing about the book. However soon as I began walking away from the table I looked at the backcover and was like 'HOW COULD I NOT KNOW OF THIS?' and almost turned around to fangirl at Rosen just on the grounds of what the book was inspired by. Yes that is how deep my love is for those two plays. So how does the book match up to my expections? Fantastically. Not only is the book peppered with inside jokes and references to the source materials (Bunburry's multiple accidents, cucumber sandwhichs and well the names are a bit more obvious I suppose), but this is possibly one of my favorite steampunk tales to date. Rosen doesn't just pay lip service to the genre, he goes into (sometimes horrifying) detail as well. Its possible I could have done without the lessons in Biology that Jack (Violet's room mate and childhood friend) engages in, but they certainly added a different layer to the tale. I could wax poetical about the various references for probably a good half hour or more (depending on the mood of the listener), but instead let me focus on the book itself.  I would definitely say that Rosen captured the 'feel' of the two plays quite well--it has always seemed to me that neither took itself seriously.  Both Wilde and Shakespeare seemed content to let their creations be just a shade over the top and ridiculous.  Admittedly the book isn't a farce, but Rosen doesn't let the characters ever think so much of themselves that they become tiresome.  Well except perhaps Volio, but he's the bad egg of the piece (more or less) and you expect that of his sort. At any given time there are about a half dozen or so romances going on, one-sided and otherwise.  The centerpiece is of course Violet and Ernest, but through their associates we see the various stages of romance.  Her brother Ashton and his romance with a servant, a couple of her new friends paramours, Cecily's infatuation with Violet-as-Ashton, Ernest's confusing courtship of Violet, Volio's campaign for Cecily and Jack's campaign for Cecily.  I think that pretty much covers things.  Rosen doesn't let gender really get in the way of romance, and I admit that Ernest's confusion until the truth is revealed had me slapping my forehead in amusement.  Subtly issues of race, station, sexuality and gender makes it way into the story.  The boys at Illyria are from every kind of background--their only unifying quality their genius--and because of this we're introduced to far more than just the elite.  Truth be told I wanted to see more of what society thought of the Duke (of Illyria's) school--we see scarce little of society outside of Violet's family and mentions by students of their titles (or father's titles).  At one point Ernest does mention he likes to keep to himself, so I suppose that's a reason. As odd as this sounds I think that Ashton was my favorite character.  We see little of his exploits when they don't pertain to Violet (we hear bits and pieces, but that's about it), but I took a shine to his character.  Maybe because despite all his tomfoolery he showed true care and concern for those around him.  Or maybe because he was kind of a reckless take me as a I am sort of fellow that I tend to really admire.  Violet was a good foil for him, or he for her.  She is serious-minded, despite her insane plan and madcap ideas, and though she loosens up while amongst the boys of the school, she's a stabilizing force in the book.  Sometimes Cecily got on my nerves, which is par for the course as the character in Importance also got on my nerves at times.  Not that she was naive or stupid, just...blind maybe.  Several times her 'good fortune' is pointed out to her, but she takes much of it for granted.  Jack, Toby and Drew were fun and rounded out the cast nicely.  I liked Jack, liked his sensible approach to wooing Cecily.  I thought Toby and Drew played off the others well and if nothing else gave Violet some sound advice (if she were male at least).  My one sadness was how depressingly pragmatic many of the female characters were.  Lady Ada, Miriam, Fiona, and even Violet at points were all realistic about their futures.  Well, perhaps not Violet so much, but it definitely Fiona and Miriam.  They were definitely 'live for the moment' sorts who understood the ways of the world, but tried not to let that ruin their enjoyment of what they had.  I'm not sure I can recommend this book enough.  There is I believe something for everyone.  I do warn at some content matter--terrifying automata for instance that had my skin crawling and oily creepers for instance.  If nothing else I hope the school year proved to the Duke that he needs to install some sort of psychological examination before allowing kids like Volio in again!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cogito_ergo_sum

    1 stars. Where to start? This book was such a failure on so many fronts. Be prepared for a long inspired rant—I mean review. I’ll start off with the few good points that I managed to see beyond this mess of a novel. The author had okay prose here and there, there were two funny moments, and the climax was silly and fun (though completely out of context for the atmosphere the author was going for—so a total fail). However, an entire mountain of negative aspects bury the little positive there was, ve 1 stars. Where to start? This book was such a failure on so many fronts. Be prepared for a long inspired rant—I mean review. I’ll start off with the few good points that I managed to see beyond this mess of a novel. The author had okay prose here and there, there were two funny moments, and the climax was silly and fun (though completely out of context for the atmosphere the author was going for—so a total fail). However, an entire mountain of negative aspects bury the little positive there was, very deeply. So where did the author err? Unfortunately in all areas when judging a book: character, plot, and narrative. In this case, the elements are so messed up that you can’t talk about one area without dragging another into the conversation. But I’ll try to make my point clear. I’ll begin with narrative and move on from there. The first thing that jumped out at me was the point of view (POV) jumps. The author loves to head hop from one character to the next, sometimes within the same paragraph. Sometimes a minor character will narrate for one paragraph before the POV switches back to the main character. I don’t think the author was going for 3rd person omniscient narrative (it didn’t have that tone to it). I think he meant to do 3rd person limited and unfortunately failed miserably. He has us jump around from so many characters, from all the random professors (detailing their happy or failed love lives—how is this relevant?), the servant girl (who has 3 lines of narrative telling us she fears our eccentric heroin—um, you had to jump into her head to show us she was afraid of Violet?), the Governess Mirriam (who goes into long soliloquy over her struggles with dealing with racism), and all the other characters (who bore us with their love lives)… I can go on. It’s a very long list of POVs. What this shows is that the author doesn’t grasp the reason a POV is selected. The questions that an author must ask them self is this: what is this story about, what message they are trying to portray, and who best tells this story? Sometimes multiple POVs are used to tell a story, but they are CAREFULLY selected and they have a STRONG COMPELLING REASON for being included. In spearing us with every POV possible from the book, he’s only managed to poke enumerable holes in his narrative to resemble Swiss cheese—so much so that it doesn’t look like a narrative anymore. It merely resembles a patchwork of every POV of the author exploring ALL POSSIBLE variations to a story. This leads to my next point: character. With a non-existent narrative, it’s no surprise that he doesn’t allow for any character development beyond a superficial level (which isn’t deep). A strong narrative would have allowed us to connect and bond with the major players of the book. As it was, to compensate for this, the author had to spell everything out and explain the situation to the reader to make sure the reader understood each character’s motivations and personal struggles. (e.g. She felt angry because of these reasons…) There was no subtext. The fact that the Rosen needed to explain these things to the reader instead of the story doing it for him, leads to another major weakness: The plot also lacked focus. There were so many scenes (incidentally the random POVs) that did nothing to further the plot along. Instead, they confused the plot and bogged it down. The book crawled at a slow pace. We’re also unsure of what message the author was trying to convey. He mashed a whole bunch of very relevant societal issues of our culture into one book, which would have been more than adequate to dedicate an entire book to each SEPARATELY, but he’s managed to hamfist them together into one novel with the level of sophistication of a stomping elephant. In doing so, not only did he fail to properly portray one issue and his message, but the resultant effect was a poor mockery of all these issues. For instance, he could have focused on a girl struggling to be recognized as an equal in a man’s world (which the message is completely undermined by the crazy ending), or the oppression of gays and their struggles (but the way he presented it, they seemed to happy and struggle free while hiding behind the backs of society), and how about the racial oppression of one woman (a minor side-character) (which felt like a totally random topic, by the way)? Do you get the feeling that this story lacked focus? We’re not sure where the author wanted to take this story. From what I can see, the author himself didn’t know where he wanted to take this story. Just because these issues are powerful on their own, doesn’t mean that just throwing them into your book would suddenly add depth and meaning. You have to work for it. Work for the issue, get the reader emotionally involved, carry the reader on a journey and leave the reader to figure out the message without the need for blatant narrative to explain it to you (which is what he did). To bring up one example of just how far off the author went off topic, he’s got this one character, Mr. Curio, who suffers these Dr. Jackel and Clyde moments. This character’s goals are to find a cure for his blackout rage moments. Not only was that a totally random thing to put into the story, but it went nowhere and contributed nothing to the plot. In fact, I’d say it contributed a negative number. How is that possible, you ask? Well, it made everything even more of a mess. Had the author focused on ONE character and ONE issue, I think he would have done better. He has proven he is currently incapable of handling more. Authors who’ve mastered the ability to showcase multiple societal issues have developed the skills to subtly present each issue by letting the reader briefly glimpse them, allowing the effect to resonate in the reader’s subconscious over and over again throughout the novel until it crests in the climax. I’m not sure what Rosen’s goal was when he sat down to pen this book. Was it to force every theme that has ever popped up in literature into one book? Because, it certainly wasn’t to write a story. The reader can’t find the story with all these ideas fighting for dominance. Now I’ll discuss other areas of the book, such as how well were these geniuses presented? Unfortunately it was entirely unbelievable. Readers go into a book expecting to suspend some disbelief, but the author has proven his ignorance in the matter of science (a major fail for a steampunk novel). For example, here’s a list of impossible things to believe: -Violet builds mechanical flapping wing additions to (4?) brass ducks in one afternoon. This probably involves welding and soldering metal (though the author never mentioned how it was done). Not to mention rigging them to flap. -Jack stitches a (skin tight) snake skin to a rat in under 10 minutes. Amazing how the rat didn’t bleed and managed to move around just fine with all those stitches. -There’s a whole bunch amazing scientific achievement by Jack in a short amount of time of organ addition and transplant between animals. -Violet performs amazing mechanical engineering of what sounds like the physically impossible Perpetual Motion machine/engine. -the students create and build amazing projects in one afternoon. -and the list goes on… Why are they at this school if they don’t seem to be learning anything or really struggling? And even if they were that smart and have managed to solve the how of the project/assignment, building and assembling the project would take weeks, or at least a few days. And what was the record? 10 minutes? TEN FREAKING MINUTES? But wait! There’s more! -A ferret or bunny rabbit (can’t remember which) gets a voice box transplant from a parrot. Now we’ve got this furry rabbit spouting off insulting sailor’s lingo. This would have been funny if it wasn’t so, so biologically impossible. Let’s assume , for a minute, that the voice box transplant was successful. How the heck would the rabbit know or remember those sailor terms? Muscle memory and auditory memory are located in the BRAIN. That rabbit still had the same brain. Hence that foul language never transferred over. Mr. Rosen, you have incredibly, poorly flawed logic that is an achievement in of itself. Thank god you didn’t endeavor to go into science. But, even if science was never your cup of tea, that doesn’t mean you can do as you please and throw research out of the window. YOU chose to write science fiction, so at least put some effort into it. Don’t mock us readers. The next topic, opposite to logic, broached upon in this book, is romance or love. Due to the horrible character depth and development, and narration, it is entirely unbelievable and cringe-worthy. Especially that impromptu, improbable kiss between a thirty something year old teacher and seventeen year old student in disguise (whom the teacher believes to be male). Oh, yeah, my disbelief is completely suspended. *sarcasm* All in all, I congratulate you, Mr. Rosen, in your achievement of inspiring me to write 3 pages worth of a dissection of your book. I’m not sure I’ve ever written this much for a review before. I will end my review with this: Mr. Rosen does have potential and obvious enthusiasm for writing. However, it’s still too early for him to publish his works. This work plainly shows that he didn't analyze his story deep enough to know WHO and WHAT this novel was about. My advice is to mature as a writer before publishing another book. And I wouldn’t hire the editor of this book or sign any contracts with the publisher Tor Books, either. It speaks volumes on the level of skill and standards the team behind the book had for publishing this. A word to publishing companies: pushing out publications like this only serves to reinforce the idea that your publishing company is of low quality and we can't expect good books from you. Better to publish fewer novels than to release crap like this. Readers have standards, and we don't want to waste our time and money. That's right. Unlike my refund, time is impossible to return.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Liviu

    INTRODUCTION: With the super enticing blurb below, "All Men of Genius" is a novel I have planned to read as soon as I could obtain a copy: "Inspired by Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, All Men of Genius takes place in a Victorian London familiar but fantastical, where mad science makes the impossible possible. Violet Adams wants to attend Illyria College, a widely renowned school for the most brilliant up-and-coming scientific minds, founded by the lat INTRODUCTION: With the super enticing blurb below, "All Men of Genius" is a novel I have planned to read as soon as I could obtain a copy: "Inspired by Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, All Men of Genius takes place in a Victorian London familiar but fantastical, where mad science makes the impossible possible. Violet Adams wants to attend Illyria College, a widely renowned school for the most brilliant up-and-coming scientific minds, founded by the late Duke Illyria, the greatest scientist of the Victorian Age. The school is run by his son, Ernest, who has held to his father's policy that the small, exclusive college remain male-only. Violet sees her opportunity when her father departs for America. She disguises herself as her twin brother, Ashton, and gains entry. But keeping the secret of her sex won't be easy, not with her friend Jack's constant habit of pulling pranks, and especially not when the duke's young ward, Cecily, starts to develop feelings for Violet's alter ego, "Ashton." Not to mention blackmail, mysterious killer automata, the way Violet's pulse quickens whenever Ernest speaks to her, and a deadly legacy left by Ernest's father. She soon realizes that it's not just keeping her secret until the end of the year she has to worry about: it's surviving that long." In contrast to the trashy crop of contemporary mashups of UF with classics that both degrade the original works and pander to the lowest common denominator, I am quite excited when an original work that reinterprets classic works in a sff-nal context appears and while last year's Shades of Milk and Honey was a bit lighter than I expected and The Dream of Perpetual Motion did not connect with me, All Men of Genius hit all the right notes and I will explain why next. OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: All Men of Genius succeeds because it hits the right balance in both style and content, while it charms you from the first page in accepting the over-the-top happenings that could easily transform the novel into pure farce. If you are familiar with Twelfth Night in any of its various incarnations across the centuries, you will see its clear and acknowledged influence in both naming and relationships, though of course the author adds his own modern touches. On the other hand the world building is pure madcap steampunk with automatons, crazy inventions that somehow work and all around outrageous inventiveness. As I kept turning the pages, I was wondering what seemingly insane contraption that somehow the magical prose of the author manages to sell to us, will come up next. And of course the characters have personalities to match - outside of the main ones, Violet, Ernest, Cecily, Ashton and Jack and several of their friends who are more or less what we expect, though they also sport last names like Cheek and Pale - most of the rest are pure mannerism with names to match like Bunburry, Bracknel, Prism and Curio, while the main villain has the sinister sounding name of Volio. And it works so well that you cannot stop but be extremely entertained every moment of this wonderful tale. The dialog has also its share of one liners that made me crack up laughing, though there is a lot of "serious stuff" especially about the stereotyping of gender roles, but also about poverty, progress and diversity. While on first glance, there is a whiff of "children of privilege" in our characters, the novel quickly throws that on its ear with some extremely well done scenes as for example when Violet "accidentally" happens upon Ashton in bed with their family's handsome coachman Anthony in retaliation for Ashton hiding her acceptance letter to the Institute - letter that of course comes to Ashton as Violet has "to become" her twin to be admitted. And so it goes with the mixing of classes... It goes without saying that All Men of Genius flows superbly on the page and you are compelled to turn the pages, while the ending is in the spirit of Shakespeare and offers a complete package though I would enjoy a return to this universe; maybe the hinted possibilities of space travel and an expedition to the Moon? Highly, highly recommended and an utterly fun and charming book that I am pretty sure I will revisit on occasion in the future.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Marissa

    I was lucky enough to get an advanced readers' copy of this book from one of my colleagues who met the author at Book Expo! I absolutely loved it! In alternate Victorian England, there are many scientists who have mastered the ability to create inventions beyond the common man’s wildest dreams, using gears and steam for power. Illyria is a prestigious private school run by Duke Ernest, and takes only the best of men. Violet is not your typical Victorian girl; rather, she is a gifted scientist an I was lucky enough to get an advanced readers' copy of this book from one of my colleagues who met the author at Book Expo! I absolutely loved it! In alternate Victorian England, there are many scientists who have mastered the ability to create inventions beyond the common man’s wildest dreams, using gears and steam for power. Illyria is a prestigious private school run by Duke Ernest, and takes only the best of men. Violet is not your typical Victorian girl; rather, she is a gifted scientist and inventor and wants nothing more than to go to lllyria. Violet concocts a scheme to impersonate her twin brother, Ashton, in order to attend the school. She plans to keep up her disguise until the final exhibition at the end of the year, and hopes that after proving herself as a worthy scientist, she will be allowed to stay. As one would expect, keeping up this ruse is not an easy task for Violet, especially when she starts getting close to the Duke. Within Illyria, there are also dark secrets that threaten to ruin Violet’s plan. A mixture of steampunk, The Twelfth Night, and The Importance of Being Earnest, All Men of Genius is a book that will suck you in from the prologue. The attention paid to the details of the elaborate inventions will satisfy any steampunk fan, though it is not overdone to the point that newcomers will grow bored with the descriptions (which are done very well). The combination of action, mad science, humor, and romance allow for the novel to have a wide audience.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Katy Budget Books

    Magen says: All Men of Genius, by Lev AC Rosen, has got to be one of my favorite reads this year so far. Having delved into a few other sci-fi and fantasy novels recently and being sorely disappointed, I found this book to be an absolute joy to read. Besides, who can resist a tale of gender-bending subterfuge with a generous dose of steampunk to boot? The characters were likable, the dialogue witty, and the juxtaposition of gender stereotypes between Violet and her brother Ashton was very well do Magen says: All Men of Genius, by Lev AC Rosen, has got to be one of my favorite reads this year so far. Having delved into a few other sci-fi and fantasy novels recently and being sorely disappointed, I found this book to be an absolute joy to read. Besides, who can resist a tale of gender-bending subterfuge with a generous dose of steampunk to boot? The characters were likable, the dialogue witty, and the juxtaposition of gender stereotypes between Violet and her brother Ashton was very well done. While Ashton was a self-proclaimed dandy with a bent for poetry and the arts, Violet thought very little about her appearance and cared only for science. I loved (and could relate to) her desire to figuratively thumb her nose at the people who insisted that only males be accepted through the doors of Illyria College, the school widely known as the only place to go for the scientifically inclined. Gender equality battles aside, the mysteries surrounding the founders of the school, the mishaps in the school’s labyrinthine basement, the romances between the various characters, and Jack’s surgically altered animals (my favorite being the foul-mouthed rabbit) are enough to keep any reader enthralled long past bedtime.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Caroline Bartels

    This book is a blast to read! I'm kinding of digging this whole steampunk genre (I mean, the Parasol Protectorate series rocked this girl's world!) and this novel just made me giddy. The Importance of Being Earnest meets Twelfth Night (and I don't even like Shakespeare) are referenced all over the place and just make this even more fun. This is a tale of cross dressing, science, romance, rampaging automatons, and a brilliantly inventive young woman, Violet, who longs to be accepted into THE scie This book is a blast to read! I'm kinding of digging this whole steampunk genre (I mean, the Parasol Protectorate series rocked this girl's world!) and this novel just made me giddy. The Importance of Being Earnest meets Twelfth Night (and I don't even like Shakespeare) are referenced all over the place and just make this even more fun. This is a tale of cross dressing, science, romance, rampaging automatons, and a brilliantly inventive young woman, Violet, who longs to be accepted into THE science college that, unfortunately, doesn't admit women. What else is a girl genius to do? She swaps identity with her brother -- this fabulously gay blade who is witty and sharp as a tack -- and heads off to Illyria to attend classes, immersing herself in the life of a young male college student (drinking, talking about women and sex, etc.) while trying to dodge the innocent advances of Cecily, the Duke of Illyria's ward, herself a smart young inventor. The problem, of course, is that Violet is falling for the duke, who is worried that his attraction to here is not acceptable. All sorts of mischief ensues and it is a blast getting to the very satisfying ending. I want MORE!!!!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Elvira

    A story about a young woman, Violet, and her desire to prove herself worthy to pursue a college education, which is restricted to her based on the social convictions of the Victorian era. Her pursuit leads her to disguising herself as a man in order to enter the college under her twin brother’s name and begin her adventure in learning among some of the brightest and craziest young scientists in London. Violet will set on an adventure of discovery of herself and of other women around her who have A story about a young woman, Violet, and her desire to prove herself worthy to pursue a college education, which is restricted to her based on the social convictions of the Victorian era. Her pursuit leads her to disguising herself as a man in order to enter the college under her twin brother’s name and begin her adventure in learning among some of the brightest and craziest young scientists in London. Violet will set on an adventure of discovery of herself and of other women around her who have pushed social convictions to obtain their own type of freedom. An enjoyable story containing a fast-paced adventure with memorable characters, secret plots, Steampunk creations and romance. Along with many references to Oscar Wilde’s work especially "The Importance of Being Earnest". So I wish GoodReads would allow you to add books multiple times, because there are books that I liked to reread. This book happened to make that list and it was just as enjoyable the second time.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Raymond

    While there are books I enjoy, and books that make me laugh, and books that are good because I learn something, reading All Men of Genius made me realize how few fiction books I get to read that are genuinely fun. There's a lot to be said about fun rides in a book, and this is one of them. The good thing is that the book does have some fairly heavy and nontraditional topics. Instead of making them out to be Big Things, they're just part of the plot. A little homosexuality, a little gender-bending While there are books I enjoy, and books that make me laugh, and books that are good because I learn something, reading All Men of Genius made me realize how few fiction books I get to read that are genuinely fun. There's a lot to be said about fun rides in a book, and this is one of them. The good thing is that the book does have some fairly heavy and nontraditional topics. Instead of making them out to be Big Things, they're just part of the plot. A little homosexuality, a little gender-bending for advancement for the time we're in, all of it is just something that happens. A refreshing turn, I thought, and just added to a fun "people in a school for X" plot that moved at a great clip and resolved itself surprisingly nicely. I really, really liked this book. I think I loved this book. A welcome, awesome surprise that I think anyone who likes this genre should pick up, like, now.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Hollowspine

    This book seemed like it was custom made for me. If you are also a fan of, Oscar Wilde, especially THe Importance of Being Earnest Shakespeare, especially his comedies (or only his comedies that is). Steampunk, including all disciplines of science, from Jekyll and Hyde chemistry to giant robots. You would really like this book. Violet a mechanical genius and young lady, would like nothing better than to attend the illustrious science academy Illyria, but unfortunately it only allows men. What's a gi This book seemed like it was custom made for me. If you are also a fan of, Oscar Wilde, especially THe Importance of Being Earnest Shakespeare, especially his comedies (or only his comedies that is). Steampunk, including all disciplines of science, from Jekyll and Hyde chemistry to giant robots. You would really like this book. Violet a mechanical genius and young lady, would like nothing better than to attend the illustrious science academy Illyria, but unfortunately it only allows men. What's a girl to do? Of course, she is going to come in from the country, in a different guise. In the country she is Violet, but in the city she is Ashton. There are so many other little ruses, confusions and plots going on (most of the romantic nature), that although it's not hard to keep track it is very amusing to read. Overall, enjoyable, funny and well-written. Though the ending for me was a bit rushed.

  16. 4 out of 5

    John

    Steampunk Shakespearean comedy with killer robots. Being set on entering a boys-only school for scientific geniuses, Violet disguises herself as her twin brother. Pranks and complications ensue, along with oodles of innuendo (and dashes of sex, mostly of the same-sex sort). Oh, and mad science, of which my favorite is the potty mouthed rabbit chimera. This is an extreme case of the author wearing his influences on his sleeve--those influences being THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST (and Wilde in ge Steampunk Shakespearean comedy with killer robots. Being set on entering a boys-only school for scientific geniuses, Violet disguises herself as her twin brother. Pranks and complications ensue, along with oodles of innuendo (and dashes of sex, mostly of the same-sex sort). Oh, and mad science, of which my favorite is the potty mouthed rabbit chimera. This is an extreme case of the author wearing his influences on his sleeve--those influences being THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST (and Wilde in general), TWELFTH NIGHT (and like plays by Billy involving mistaken identities and silly or at least unlikely romances all coming round right in the end). Even the cover illus looks like the posters that, I think, the New York Shakespeare Festival used to commission.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jay Daze

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is a book that really wants to be loved, but it didn't happen for me. All Good Men of Genius, with it's gender-swapping hero, a villain maddened by love, and especially the careful pairing off of characters into romantic bliss is, from a kind view point, like a Shakespearean comedy, or as I started to despair about the book, more like an lame opera. At the end the benevolent ruler comes in and sets everything right, and everybody is just so damn happy. Unfortunately by the end of the book, This is a book that really wants to be loved, but it didn't happen for me. All Good Men of Genius, with it's gender-swapping hero, a villain maddened by love, and especially the careful pairing off of characters into romantic bliss is, from a kind view point, like a Shakespearean comedy, or as I started to despair about the book, more like an lame opera. At the end the benevolent ruler comes in and sets everything right, and everybody is just so damn happy. Unfortunately by the end of the book, despite characters I enjoyed and a fun steampunk world, I came down in the opera camp - a Mozart opera but with no music and an inane plot. The story telling is haphazard at best. Rosen has a nice tone, okay prose, but perhaps too much ambition and not enough control for his first novel. To begin with the book isn't very tightly wound, it doesn't spring along like its breezy, not very complicated characters. The limited third person jumps into the consciousness of far too many of the characters and completely defuses the narrative thrust of the book. But the truly bothersome part is that by the end of the novel the very reason for the book - Violet's daring plan to break the gender wall and gain access for women to the school of Illyria is undercut - if not completely sabotaged. Before Violet can finish her plan, Edward, Duke of Illyria, decides to let girls in on his own. (Okay, not completely on his own, Violet dazzles him with her letters of science. Sort of unbelievably, the duke has been hanging around with freaking Ada Lovelace all his life! but some letters change his mind?) It has the effect of turning Violet's daring, rebellious, dangerous act into the impatient stunt of a child. If only the poor dear had been patient. There, there, have a candy and run along little girl. (This undermining is a prime example of everyone getting a point of view in the book. Not only does it slow things down - deadly in a light comedy - but it also puts the book at odds with itself, often deflating the suspense.) I was also bothered by the use of technology in the story. Because this is steampunk, I can pretty much accept that science equals magic in this world - which is great, it's that fun fantasy element that has turned steampunk into the most delightful of genres. But to my mind Rosen hasn't grounded his magic-science, he doesn't build it up or make it special. Everyone in the bloody school of Illyria is a genius from day one. They're all making near-impossible gadgets or creature-hybrids immediately. Some early scenes are in the class-rooms, but I don't get the sense that anyone really learned anything at the school or that any of these fabulous inventions presented anything but the most rudimentary of struggles. A lot of these gadgets should have taken decades, with teams of engineers and scientists working on them. Instead, organ transplantation is accomplished after a couple of tries. A mech-warrior suit with a hyper efficient winding motor that defies, or at least severely tests, the laws of conservation is something first year student Violet whips up for her year end presentation. The title has 'genius' in it but the book makes the creative struggle seem too easy. I was NOT looking for realism going into this book. I have what could only be described as the shakiest grasp of science. I'm frustrated when wizard dudes go 'ALACZAM!' and vaporize an entire orc hordes, and I'm equally frustrated by magic-science from a first year student that changes the laws of nature. I slowly lost interested in the science because it felt like Rosen was playing tennis without a net, boring. Okay one final bitch then I'll start back-tracking. I was really happy with the gay sex in here. In fact I wish there had been more of Ashton and his wild ways - or perhaps that he got his own book. (See my complaint about the fractured nature of the narrative voice above.) But did anyone else notice all the power imbalances in this book? Ashton fucks his serving boy. Edward has a maid to fuck. Violet falls in love with Edward, her schoolmaster. Edward kisses Violet (disguised as a male student). It is not that there wasn't as lot of master-servant, student-teacher loving going on in the past, but I do have a problem that it is presented as being so bright and happy and not problematic at all. What if you are a servant who doesn't want to put out for your master who holds your fate in his hands? Isn't it just slightly, slightly, slightly wrong that the happy ending of this book is that the headmaster marries his student? Rosen doesn't seem, to me, to worry about any of this. The light tone of the book makes the sexual politics that much more creepy. I am not claiming purity on this. Great sexually fantasy are built on power-imbalances - consentual fantasies. But when you have a non-porn narrative and none of the more troubling sides are raised it bothers me. So yes, the plot is derailed by the marriage ending, the narrative is fragmented over too many characters, the magic-technology didn't convince, and the sexual politics seemed suspect - why exactly am I having trouble giving this book two stars? (Have to say it seems a lot clearer at this point.) Probably because Rosen does have a light tone and characters who are winning. I even like Edward in his mopey way. I would have like the book more it it had stream lined itself, sticking to Violet's point of view, and if it had not lost its nerve and shied away from letting its heroine smash some conventions - rather than get married at the end. I don't think I'm committing the sin of trying to re-write the novel. I do believe that the start of the book promises that Violet is going to bring change to this world - that that is why she is the hero of the book. By marrying her off and allowing Edward to open Illyria to women I feel that Rosen subverted his own novel - into a rather traditional and pointless book. (But I enjoyed writing about it.)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dark Faerie Tales

    Review Courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales Quick & Dirty: Beautifully written prose filled with women’s rights, love, and geniuses creating the impossible. Opening Sentence: Violet and Ashton’s father was leaving for America to help decide where time should begin. The Review: Steampunk is a mixture of history and the fantastical imaginings of machines at the time of The Industrial Age. It’s a world where steam power is the dominant form of fuel and Victorian sensibilities prevail. Combine this idea wi Review Courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales Quick & Dirty: Beautifully written prose filled with women’s rights, love, and geniuses creating the impossible. Opening Sentence: Violet and Ashton’s father was leaving for America to help decide where time should begin. The Review: Steampunk is a mixture of history and the fantastical imaginings of machines at the time of The Industrial Age. It’s a world where steam power is the dominant form of fuel and Victorian sensibilities prevail. Combine this idea with the timelessly inspirational stories of William Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde and you have a novel that will no doubt inspire each of us in a whole new way. All Men of Genius tells the story of one woman’s struggle against the stigmata of her gender and her journey to prove her true worth to those around her. Violet Adams is a genius, but her brilliance has gone unnoticed by the society at large. Her dreams are filled with machines and inventions, not the desire for a suitable husband and comfortable lifestyle fit for a lady of her station. In order to see her dreams come true, she develops a plan to prove that her worth is more than her breeding: She will enter the esteemed all-male Illyria College, renowned for its innovative thinking, she joins in disguise as her twin brother, Ashton. After proving her genius to her peers, she will reveal the true nature of her gender at the end of the year science fair. Good plan, right? Of course, if she is found out, she will be executed and her family’s honor will be forever shamed. Is it worth the risk? And if I didn’t know any better, I would say that this book was written by a woman. (No offense, Mr. Rosen!) The frustrations of the limitations of women in this time come through quite clearly. Each female character displays a unique perspective on the issue of woman’s rights, both intellectual and sexual. Both Violet and Cecily want to be judged by the size of their I.Q. and not the size of their breasts. Even Miriam’s independent nature reflects the struggles of feminine suppression. Though this is a dominant theme within the book, it does not overshadow the storyline itself. While the women in this book strive for something more, they are still open to love and sharing their lives with the very men they are rallying against. I guess that line in Mary Poppins is correct-that though we love men individually, as a group, they’re rather stupid. The men in All Men of Genius are just as intriguing as the women. Duke Ernest Illyria, the current headmaster of Illyria College, believes himself a forward-thinking man. Even though he upholds his father’s dictate of only male students, Ernest believes that women can be just as smart as men. When he meets Violet, he is immediately intrigued by, not only her body, but also her conversation. When he next meets her, she is presented as Ashton, her twin brother. Ernest, uncomfortably, finds himself drawn to Ashton as well. And though he eventually discovers the truth, he knows in his heart the person he loves, without the outer dressings. Though this book concentrates on Violet’s journey, it does touch on her brother’s, Ashton’s, struggle. As a gay man, he too is stifled within society’s narrow parameters. I believe that Violet’s fight becomes sort of a call to put the accepted status-quo into question. While all of this complicated byplay is going on, the group of friends at Illyria also find themselves drawn in a fight against an unknown saboteur that is intent on taking over the college. While most students and faculty concentrate their inventions for the betterment of mankind, there are those out there that seek the betterment of weaponization. Can our loveable group of genius’s figure out a way to stop the college from being consumed by greed and war mongering? Can a lonely girl fight for what she believes in, even at the detriment of her and her family’s future? I loved this book to no end. There is something about seeing the little man beat out against “the man” that gets me every time. If you enjoy reading about such epic struggles, this is the book for you. I would not be surprised to find it declared a new “classic” that my boys will be forced to read in high school along with other great books like 1984 and The Giver. I can’t imagine anyone reading this book and not being moved by it. Notable Scene: “So,” Ashton said, eating a cucumber sandwich, “You’ve been chased by murderous automata?” “Yeah,” Jack said, “during our initiation, and then again when we got knackered and decided to explore the basement to see if Volio’s secret lab was behind the mysterious door.” “I’m sorry?” “Volio,” Violet continued, “is a horrid second-year student whose brother was nearly expelled for producing weapons, and who is now blackmailing Miriam because he knows that she goes out with us at night.” “Who’s Miriam?” “Cecily’s governess,” Jack said, and sighed, thinking of Cecily. “He’s in love with Cecily,” Violet said, buttering a muffin. “Cecily is the duke’s cousin and ward.” “This is very complicated,” Ashton said. “Why don’t you just tell me about your week, from first day to last.” “Very well,” Violet said, and she did. A few hours later, Ashton was also a bit paler with dark circles under his eyes. “This is needlessly complex,” he said. “And that’s just the first week,” Violet said. The All Men of Genius Series: 1. All Men of Genius FTC Advisory: Macmillan/Tor Books provided me with a copy of All Men of Genius. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. The only payment received came in the form of hugs and kisses from my little boys.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Karissa

    I got an advanced reading copy of this book signed by the author at Book Expo America. I have been looking forward to reading it for some time. It was an excellent book; exquisitely written and creative. It was a slow but wonderful read. Violet is a genius at building mechanical contraptions and wants desperately to go to the Illyria school for genius students; only problem is Illyria doesn't admit women. So Violet, along with her twin brother Ashton, and their friend Jack, devise a devious plan. I got an advanced reading copy of this book signed by the author at Book Expo America. I have been looking forward to reading it for some time. It was an excellent book; exquisitely written and creative. It was a slow but wonderful read. Violet is a genius at building mechanical contraptions and wants desperately to go to the Illyria school for genius students; only problem is Illyria doesn't admit women. So Violet, along with her twin brother Ashton, and their friend Jack, devise a devious plan. Violet will pretend to be Ashton and attend Illyria, if she can get in. Once at Illyria Violet's end of the year project will be the least of her troubles. There are killer automatons in the basements, the Duke of Illyria's ward has fallen in love with Violet-as-a-man, and Violet is in love with the Duke. Fans of Jane Austen or The Importance of Being Earnest that love a bit of a steampunk twist to their witty banter will love this book. Being that it is written in that more flowery type of Victorian style this is a slow read and things move very deliberately at parts of the book. That being said the description and writing style is absolutely exquisite. The witty banter between the characters is wonderful and lots of fun to read. The mystery behind the school's basement, along with all the crazy "who loves who" twisting of the plot kept me completely engaged. The characters are wonderful. I loved them all. Especially Violet, Ashton, and Jack. These are smart, funny, heartfelt characters that I really loved getting to know. Even side characters are complex and fun to read about. The book switches viewpoint quite a bit, although the majority of the story is told from Violet's point of view. I didn't find the viewpoint switching distracting or anything, although there were a couple times that I desperately wanted to know what would happen to Violet next and scanned through another character's viewpoint as fast as I could to get back to her. There are a lot of fun steampunk devices in this book along with interesting chemical and biological experiments. I enjoyed them all and at times was reminded a bit of the magical shenanigans at Hogwart's with Ron's trickster older twin brothers. Being a chemist/engineer and a woman, I loved that Violet worked so hard to get women at a technical level equal to her fellow male students. This book really clicked with me and I really enjoyed the premise behind it. When I started the book I hoped that more of it was going to be focused on the mystery behind the school's basement; in the end I thought the whole mystery behind the basement was a bit anti-climatic. I was surprised that the majority of the story focused on Violet's day to day life and all the excitement that held for everyone involved. I was incredibly pleased at the ending of the book; the readers are treated to a rather spectacular battle scene that had more action in a few pages than in the entirety of the rest of the book. The book ended wonderfully. Everything was nicely wrapped up. I am not certain if a sequel is planned, but the book was wrapped up well-enough that one isn't needed. I think the book would be appropriate for older young adults and up; there is some swearing, some bawdy humor, and some discussion of sex acts. Overall this was a spectacular read. The book is exquisitely written with beautiful descriptions and witty dialogue that really make the story come alive; this makes this book a slow read but a wonderful one. The characters are absolutely wonderful; I was especially drawn to Violet and her desire to make it as a technically adept woman in a male dominated field. The intertwining love stories remind of The Importance of Being Earnest or even some of Jane Austen's works. Those who love that type of Victorian style of writing should check this out. Fans of steampunk stories should check this out as well, there are a ton of wonderful devices in this book. Fans of stories about young woman dressing as men to make it in a all male school may also want to check out The Education of Bet (fluffier than this book but still a fun read). I will definitely be reading future books by Rossen.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kelsey

    I am still pretty new to the steampunk genre, and I am still not sure how I feel about it. My first foray - Johannes Cabal the Necromancer - was not a success. But I am happy to report that this title has done considerable work to repair the damage the necromancer book did to my feelings about the genre. All Men of Genius tags itself as a kind of steampunk-feminist blend of The Importance of Being Earnest and Shakespeare's Twelfth Night - which means you can pretty much guess the plot. Significa I am still pretty new to the steampunk genre, and I am still not sure how I feel about it. My first foray - Johannes Cabal the Necromancer - was not a success. But I am happy to report that this title has done considerable work to repair the damage the necromancer book did to my feelings about the genre. All Men of Genius tags itself as a kind of steampunk-feminist blend of The Importance of Being Earnest and Shakespeare's Twelfth Night - which means you can pretty much guess the plot. Significant differences include our Violet *cough*Viola*cough* is not shipwrecked by an actual ship, but instead by the suffocating culturally entrenched sexism of the Victorian era. Ernest/Jack has been merged with the Duke Orsino as the Duke of Illyria, Cecily and Olivia have combined themselves so as to occupy the same space in the plot. Other characters also appear in strange combinations, named entirely to tickle fans of the plays, I'm sure. But despite the fact that you will most likely be able to guess the plot from start to finish, its still an enjoyable romp to get there. Some people will note that I said Feminist in addition to the steam punk. If this worries you, it probably shouldn't. In essence, this is like a Victorian novel without all the casual racism, sexism, homophobia or general moralizing tsk tsk noises over how ankle exposure is ruining the concentration of young men everywhere (You are not totally free of somewhat maudlin romance. I think it comes part and parcel with the territory). If you really miss any of those things you can probably go read Wuthering Heights again. This book is feminist also in that Viola Violet's thesis for her gender swapping experiment is basically a feminist one - that your reproductive organs are not an indication of total ability. There is a secondary thesis that said organs should also not dictate your lifestyle, and place in society. Its pretty non-judgemental, overall. This is about as non controversial as feminism gets in my opinion. So Yeah, I liked it. Its a good comedy of errors style romp with some shiny brass cogs and a healthy dose of self awareness. Its heavy on the cheese, but did you really expect it not to be?

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stacey O'Neale

    This review was completed by Amanda Harbin, staff reviewer with the YA Fantasy Guide. When Simon Cowell was on American Idol and a contestant would get up on stage and attempt to belt out a Whitney or a Mariah song they were almost always given the same criticism, if you’re gonna sing a legends song then you better be prepared to sing like a legend. These were my first thoughts when I heard about All Men of Genius An author who takes on the ambitious task of paying tribute to literary icons such This review was completed by Amanda Harbin, staff reviewer with the YA Fantasy Guide. When Simon Cowell was on American Idol and a contestant would get up on stage and attempt to belt out a Whitney or a Mariah song they were almost always given the same criticism, if you’re gonna sing a legends song then you better be prepared to sing like a legend. These were my first thoughts when I heard about All Men of Genius An author who takes on the ambitious task of paying tribute to literary icons such as William Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde in the same novel while creating something entirely unique, is either a sadist, a genius or a little bit of both. Having never conversed with Mr. Lev Rosen, the author of All Men of Genius I can only assume that he must be a little bit of both. This novel is not for beginners or for anyone looking for a mindless read. This book is meant to be savored slowly over time. The complex layering of fascinating characters, plots, recognition of some of the more subtle Shakespearean and Wilde elements require the reader to allow the story to digest little by little. Don’t be misled into thinking that this is a difficult read, it is not. But it is a treasure chest of imaginative story-telling, the likes of which you won’t want to miss a single morsel. This book is for people who like to sip their tea…after they’ve spiked it with a bit of whiskey! Rosen perfectly marries Shakespeare and Wilde in a sophisticated but edgy voice that still makes the reader feel as if they are reading a piece of classic literature. This was one of the most enjoyable books I have read in quite some time. It was energetic, adventurous and uplifting. The prose and action play out in such a way that the reader often finds themselves visualizing the story as production. This will be especially true for anyone familiar with Oscare Wilde and/or William Shakespeare. You don’t have to be a Shakespeare addict to appreciate this novel. Steampunk fans will be equally engaged in watching each piece of the story fall into perfect place just like the ever moving gears within the walls of Illyria. All Men of Genius gets a standing ovation from this reviewer! Well Done! Bravo!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kristin (MyBookishWays Reviews)

    You may also read my review here: http://www.mybookishways.com/2011/10/... When Violet Adams decides to disguise herself as a man and apply to Illyria College,she has no idea what she’s getting herself into,but is determined to prove herself in a man’s world and gain attention for her mechanical genius. With the dubious support of her twin brother,Ashton,and their friend and fellow Illyria student Jack,Violet embarks on a school year that she’ll never forget. Among the vast halls and clanking gea You may also read my review here: http://www.mybookishways.com/2011/10/... When Violet Adams decides to disguise herself as a man and apply to Illyria College,she has no idea what she’s getting herself into,but is determined to prove herself in a man’s world and gain attention for her mechanical genius. With the dubious support of her twin brother,Ashton,and their friend and fellow Illyria student Jack,Violet embarks on a school year that she’ll never forget. Among the vast halls and clanking gears of Illyria,Violet finally feels she’s truly home,among great minds and great inventions. The faire at the end of the year,with a chance to showcase an invention to the Queen,will be the icing on the cake,and Violet hopes to unveil her secret to everyone. She certainly didn’t count on falling in love with the Duke of Illyria,not to mention the daily challenges of posing as a man. All Men of Genius is great fun,and the author manages to balance multiple story lines without sacrificing pacing or completely taking the attention off of Violet. We get to know the cousin and ward of the Duke,Cecily (who has some engineering know-how of her own),as well as her governess,Miriam,a few of the professors (including one who’s more machine than man),and the scenes involving Violet at the pub with Jack and their circle of friends are a hoot. Misplaced affections and gender bending conflict abound,creating twists and turns that certainly keep our heroes and heroines guessing. There is a villain,and he’s a nasty one,but I’ll leave that one for you to discover. Then there’s that creepy,labyrinthine basement… Filled with clockwork contraptions,ferrets that fly (and other interesting creatures),menacing automatons,wry wit and humor,and a heroine you’ll root for,All Men of Genius is a delight,and I highly recommend it for anyone that enjoys a good comedy of manners,and a Victorian romp with steampunk sensibilities. Will Violet’s true gender be found out? Will she find true love without losing herself in the process? I suppose you’ll have to snag a copy of All Men of Genius and find out!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra

    Funny that I read this book right after another that I criticized for being too derivative, because All Men of Genius is a steampunk mashup of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. In this case I really enjoyed the playful and inventive take on two great plays. Violet Adams and her twin brother Ashton (Viola and Sebastian) are the center of the novel. Viola is a talented engineer who decides to disguise herself as Ashton in order to attend the elite all-ma Funny that I read this book right after another that I criticized for being too derivative, because All Men of Genius is a steampunk mashup of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. In this case I really enjoyed the playful and inventive take on two great plays. Violet Adams and her twin brother Ashton (Viola and Sebastian) are the center of the novel. Viola is a talented engineer who decides to disguise herself as Ashton in order to attend the elite all-male Illyria College. (And what recourse does a young women lacking twin brother have when she wishes to attend an all-male school?) She sets out to prove her worth as a scientist, but of course also attracts the attention of Ernest, Duke of Illyria ("Ernest" Worthing/Orsino), and his ward Cecily (Cecily Cardew/Olivia), a budding scientist herself. Of course, knowing the Twelfth Night, I knew how Violet's romantic entanglements would be resolved, but it was still so much fun getting there. The novel has an amazing cast of characters with parallels from both plays. (An especially amusing example: Professor Bunbury, who actually *is* injured and must be visited in the hospital. Also Ada Lovelace as... herself.) Violet holds her own very well, but the varied cast enriches the story and highlights some of the societal issues at play in the Victorian world. Violet is the only character actually in disguise, but identity is a major issue for many of the others as well. I liked that Violet's story went beyond fear of discovery and misplaced affections and explored her struggle to grow both as a woman and a scientist. Overall, great fun. Satisfying as a standalone, but some elements were open ended enough that I wouldn't be surprised to see a sequel.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Strider

    Pros: fabulous writing, witty, complex story with multiple subplots, endearing characters, emotional punch Cons: the first 5 pages are a bit over the top, get past them and the rest of the book is fabulous The Importance of Being Earnest meets Twelfth Night in this fabulously written debut novel. Violet Adams has a plan to attend the illustrious school of science, Illyria, by dressing the year as her twin brother Ashton. Being a man is more difficult than Violet considered, and it turns out to be Pros: fabulous writing, witty, complex story with multiple subplots, endearing characters, emotional punch Cons: the first 5 pages are a bit over the top, get past them and the rest of the book is fabulous The Importance of Being Earnest meets Twelfth Night in this fabulously written debut novel. Violet Adams has a plan to attend the illustrious school of science, Illyria, by dressing the year as her twin brother Ashton. Being a man is more difficult than Violet considered, and it turns out to be quite an interesting year, filled with experimentation, drinking, exploring the labyrinthine basement of the school, blackmail, avoiding the love of Cicely (ward of Illyria's duke) and dealing with her own complicated feelings towards said duke. This is a delightful romp that could well have been written by Oscar Wilde himself. It has the feel of Victorian literature, with subtle wit and constant references to things of the period. As a steampunk novel there's a lot of experimentation going on, but very little scientific explanation, so those who want a more hard SF feel should look elsewhere, while those wishing for a book to ease someone into genre should think of this as the perfect gift. The plot becomes more and more complex as new characters are added, each with their own plans that interfere with those of the others. And the characters are all complex. Rosen takes a few pages here and there to flesh out even minor characters so their motivations are understood. And while he jumps between heads often, it's always clear whose thoughts you're following. This book made me laugh, out loud, at several points. It also made me cry. Can't ask for more than that.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Maggie V

    Oh what a wonderful retelling of Twelth Night! (I'm not familiar with The Importance of Being Earnest to comment on that connection.) Smart, strong women, strong, caring men, crossdressing, adventure, romance, scientific discovery, fighting ... this is definitely a "something for everyone" book. Violet was a great character, and the secondary characters were very individual and quirky. However, there were a lot of characters so that I had to flip back on occasion to see who was who (this was mor Oh what a wonderful retelling of Twelth Night! (I'm not familiar with The Importance of Being Earnest to comment on that connection.) Smart, strong women, strong, caring men, crossdressing, adventure, romance, scientific discovery, fighting ... this is definitely a "something for everyone" book. Violet was a great character, and the secondary characters were very individual and quirky. However, there were a lot of characters so that I had to flip back on occasion to see who was who (this was more so for the very minor characters than the secondary ones). The ending concerning Malcom Volio felt a little rushed and (view spoiler)[I was left wondering about the Society since it was almost implied that it still continued at least in the Volio family (hide spoiler)] . One last thing concerning Malcom Volio: (view spoiler)[ I do wish there was more of the comedic element that Shakespeare included ... wearing silly clothes specifically comes to mind that while it was mentioned was never acted on (hide spoiler)] . Definitely going to be recommending this one, and a great cross-over (adult to YA).

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    This came highly recommended, so I was especially disappointed in it. We begin with the extremely hackneyed theme of 'I'm going to dress as a boy so I can go to school since women aren't allowed in schools.' Not to say this can't be interesting, but Rosen did nothing new at all. Then the heroine, who is supposed to be a genius, somehow has plotted this whole plan out without realizing she'll have to dress, walk, and talk like a man, until her brother mentions this to her offhandedly on the carria This came highly recommended, so I was especially disappointed in it. We begin with the extremely hackneyed theme of 'I'm going to dress as a boy so I can go to school since women aren't allowed in schools.' Not to say this can't be interesting, but Rosen did nothing new at all. Then the heroine, who is supposed to be a genius, somehow has plotted this whole plan out without realizing she'll have to dress, walk, and talk like a man, until her brother mentions this to her offhandedly on the carriage ride to go drop off her application. (Gee, REALLY??) The steampunk aspect seemed forced, the villain was overly villain-y without a lot of reason behind him, and the whole thing read like a YA novel (which made the 35-year-old hero creepy instead of attractive). I was especially bothered by the fact that the 'villain' mentions a whole group of other villains he's working with, but not only do they never show up, they are conveniently forgotten in the sappily happy finale. (Said villains might have promise for a series, but there was no mention of this being a series.) I almost stopped a few times, but kept reading thinking something interesting must have to happen. But it didn't.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Abby Johnson

    Genius inventress Violet Adams wants nothing more than to be admitted to Illyria College, a the most prestigious scientific school in Victorian London. The problem? They don't admit women. Undaunted, Violet disguises herself as her twin brother Ashton and is admitted. However, keeping her secret proves even harder than she'd imagined with love affairs blossoming all around her and the discovery of strange leftover science experiments in the basement of the school. I thoroughly enjoyed this imagi Genius inventress Violet Adams wants nothing more than to be admitted to Illyria College, a the most prestigious scientific school in Victorian London. The problem? They don't admit women. Undaunted, Violet disguises herself as her twin brother Ashton and is admitted. However, keeping her secret proves even harder than she'd imagined with love affairs blossoming all around her and the discovery of strange leftover science experiments in the basement of the school. I thoroughly enjoyed this imaginative novel. The characters are well developed and I always enjoy a women-disguised-as-man story. There's plenty of humor and romance, but also some creepy bits. The plot's fairly action-packed, though I did feel it was a bit too long. Though it's published for adults, this one will have loads of crossover appeal and I'd recommend it to high schoolers who have enjoyed Phillip Pullman's The Golden Compass, Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan, or Tamora Pierce's Lioness books. http://www.abbythelibrarian.com/2011/...

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    All Men of Genius is a book that steampunk fans should run to the bookstore to pick up. It’s a fun, not too serious romp through Victorian London. Rosen fills his pages with incredible mad science, Victorian manners and even a bit of challenging traditional gender roles. The plot is incredibly fast paced and peppered with some great one-liners in the dialogue. Despite the fact that the plot is pretty predictable, and some of the characters suffer from a little two-dimensionality, All Men of Geni All Men of Genius is a book that steampunk fans should run to the bookstore to pick up. It’s a fun, not too serious romp through Victorian London. Rosen fills his pages with incredible mad science, Victorian manners and even a bit of challenging traditional gender roles. The plot is incredibly fast paced and peppered with some great one-liners in the dialogue. Despite the fact that the plot is pretty predictable, and some of the characters suffer from a little two-dimensionality, All Men of Genius is such an entertaining, fast paced and atmospheric read that I doubt any of the flaws will matter to readers. All Men of Genius is a rare find. It strikes the perfect balance between the wacky and the serious all the while speeding readers through incredible events. It’s an absorbing read, well worth checking out. Read my full review here: http://bookwormblues.blogspot.com/201...

  29. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    ALL MEN OF GENIUS provides the playful wonder of a Harry Potter book with the adult themes of troubled Victorian society. Gender, sexual, and racial discrimination abound, and not all of our heros are guaranteed a happy ending. Rosen does a wonderful job making the science labs of Illyrian as magical as any Hogwarts lab, and adds a sexual spice that never quite broke the mold of polite society (though Mrs. Wilde's mail order business came close). The story did lag a bit for me in the middle, if ALL MEN OF GENIUS provides the playful wonder of a Harry Potter book with the adult themes of troubled Victorian society. Gender, sexual, and racial discrimination abound, and not all of our heros are guaranteed a happy ending. Rosen does a wonderful job making the science labs of Illyrian as magical as any Hogwarts lab, and adds a sexual spice that never quite broke the mold of polite society (though Mrs. Wilde's mail order business came close). The story did lag a bit for me in the middle, if only because I was so anxious to see how everything would work out in the end. I hope Rosen returns to this fabulous alternate world in the future, and even if he doesn't, I'll be sure to pick up whatever he writes next. Full review at All Things Urban Fantasy. Sexual Content: Kissing, references to sex, rape, and prostitution.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    This was a terrific book, combining Twelfth Night, The Importance of Being Earnest, with a dash of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and a hint of Harry Potter. When the novel started out I thought it was a young adult and a British boarding school invokes memories of Harry Potter but then as the plot evolved the writing seemed to transform to more adult almost a comedy of manners with a steampunk setting. (view spoiler)[ I saw the action orientated finale coming a long way before it flowered. Once we knew This was a terrific book, combining Twelfth Night, The Importance of Being Earnest, with a dash of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and a hint of Harry Potter. When the novel started out I thought it was a young adult and a British boarding school invokes memories of Harry Potter but then as the plot evolved the writing seemed to transform to more adult almost a comedy of manners with a steampunk setting. (view spoiler)[ I saw the action orientated finale coming a long way before it flowered. Once we knew Violet was making a "Gundam" and Violio an army of androids it seemed kind of obvious that she'd save the day but it in no way spoiled the fun of the story, and the all the interesting characters (hide spoiler)]

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.