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All Men of Genius [Hardcover]

Lev AC Rosen
2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 15.61 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 462 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (27 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765327945
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765327949
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 14.9 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,519,155 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not very good 31 Dec 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The first steampunk book I have tried. Just didn't work for me. The whole concept of clockwork perpetual motion devices, or clockwork would springs that gave off huge amounts of force after only a little input is just so wrong.

Set this with Victorian attitudes to women and I just don't get the appeal.

I finished it but will not be reading any more in this style.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  30 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jane Austen meets steampunk; exquisitely written 27 Sep 2011
By K. Eckert - Published on
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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Once I started reading I couldn't stop. 17 Oct 2011
By @Julia_ATUF - Published on
Review courtesy of 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 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 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Importance of Being Ernestly Steampunk 31 Dec 2011
By Christina Paige - Published on
In a steam-punk era, where technology progresses by leaps and bounds, women still wear corsets, Victoria is Queen of England, and women do not yet have the right to vote, 17 year old Viola Adams is a brilliant inventor who wishes to attend Illyria College, an exclusive, and exclusively male bastion of scientific adventure. Her twin brother, Ashton, agrees to help her disguise herself as a young man and apply to the college under his name. To Violet's delight and terror, she is accepted, and a year that will change their lives and shape the future of science begins.
It turns out Violet is not the only woman at Illyria: the Duke's ward, 16 year old Cecily, herself an astonishingly accomplished chemist, attends classes with the young men of genius; and Cecily's godmother, none other than the celebrated, and notorious, Lady Ada Byron, makes frequent visits and gives guest lectures.
Assisted in her ruse by life-long friend and fellow classmate, Jack Feste, Violet holds her own in friendships with second year students Toby Belch and Drew Pale: the four of them, plus Cecily's governess, the widow Miriam, go drinking in local taverns and explore the dark maze under the college, where invisible cats, hidden chambers of secrets, and an army of murderous mechanisms march the corridors. Violet's plan to prove that genius needs to be recognized and welcomed, no matter the form it wears, is complicated by her unexpected attraction to Duke Ernest, and his for her - in both her forms. To tangle the threads further, Cecily falls in love with Violet's alter-ego; "Ashton" is, after all, kind and friendly, the first young man to take an interest in her as a fellow scientist instead of a pretty face! Danger threatens them all, for upperclassman Malcolm Volio regards himself as the true heir to Illyria, by virtue of his father's secret alliance with the former Duke's plan for world domination, and Mal Volio wants to bring that plan to fulfillment, with himself in control of metal armies, and Cecily by his side.
Here is a fabulous reworking of one of Shakespeare's best plays, Twelfth Night, delightfully seasoned with whiffs of Harry Potter and extracts from Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Ernest. There are, for example, besides the Ernest-Cecily-Jack scenario, such elements as muffins, banter, an afflicted friend named Bunbury, a significant handbag that converts into a perambulator, and a foul-mouthed talking rabbit named Oscar. (Jack Feste experiments with organ transplants across species, and he put a sailor's parrot's voice-box in a bunny.) The status of inverts is presented sympathetically in the form of Violet's brother, the poetic Ashton, and his handsome lover. Secondary characters, including an actress who wants a better life, a frustrated housekeeper, and a professor afflicted with involuntary transformations, are also well portrayed with compelling storylines of their own.
Of all the steam-punk literature to be published in the last seven years, this is quite possibly the masterpiece. Cleverly plotted, well-written, sympathetic, this celebration of love and human inventiveness is a book to enjoy mightily.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Yentl Steampunk 8 Jan 2012
By William Kerney - Published on
If you've ever seen Yentl, the Barbra Streisand movie about a girl that dresses up as a man to go to college, falls in love, creates homo-confusion with said love interest, and then reveals it at the end, you've read this book. Except it's in a steampunk Victorian London.

As a frivolous but fun novel, I was itching to give it 4-stars as I was reading through it. I ended up with a three though, for the following reasons:
1) While I understand that supergenius inventions don't need to especially follow the rules of nature, whenever an author gives an explanation for HOW something works, if it flagrantly violates the laws of physics so badly that Newton rises from the dead just to have his head explode, you're Doing Something Wrong.

(The main character invents an engine that with two twists of a key, can power essentially a large battlemech for several days. No, Lev Rosen... just, no. Conservation of energy.)

2) By the time you're a quarter of the way into the book, all of the heroes and villains have outlined what they're going to do for the rest of the book. The rest of the book is then the characters doing exactly what they said they're going to do, with absolutely no surprises.

While the book is amusing, and I'd even say charming, it's too heavy handed with the foreshadowing, and the characterization and plot are just too shallow.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great story, mediocre writing 16 Jan 2012
By Kate - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The story is fun and interesting, although there aren't any major plot surprises for anyone who's familiar with Twelfth Night. The steampunk interpretation is definitely fun, and I loved reading the descriptions of science going on at Illyria College. As a scientist, I hate when authors make up science and try to connect it to real science, or provide extensive detail that is just wrong. I love that this author embraces his science as fantasy and runs with it. I didn't love the writing, unfortunately. The writing feels a little pompous and self-important. To a certain extent that is consistent with the general feel of steampunk, but I think the author goes a little too far. I hope that in his future books he reins it in some. I would definitely recommend this book based on the story, not the writing. If you're the kind of person who loves a good story and doesn't really notice the quality of writing, this book is for you. I do not recommend it for people who have trouble finishing a book if the writing isn't exquisite.
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