All Men of Genius – Lev AC Rosen

About the book
Inspired by two of the mostbeloved works by literary masters, AllMen of Genius takes place in an alternate Steampunk VictorianLondon, where science makes the impossible possible.
Violet Adams wants to attend Illyria College, awidely 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 thatthe small, exclusive college remain male-only. Violet sees her opportunity whenher 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 notwhen the duke’s young ward, Cecily, starts to develop feelings for Violet’salter ego, “Ashton.” Not to mention blackmail, mysterious killer automata, andthe way Violet’s pulse quickens whenever the young duke, Ernest (who has asecret past of his own), speaks to her. She soon realizes that it’s not justkeeping her secret until the end of the year faire she has to worry about: it’ssurviving that long.

416pages (hardcover)
Publishedon: September 27, 2011
Publishedby: Tor
Thanks to Tor for sending me a copy of thisbook to review.
All Men of Genius seems to be getting alot of positive attention from steampunk fans, which is good seeing as how thisis the ultimate steampunk book complete with killer automatons and incredible mechanical inventions. Set in Victorian England, Lev A.C. Rosen mixesVictorian ideals, feminism and mad science to create this hugely entertainingsteampunk success.
All Men of Genius is charming, funny andthoughtful and Rosen seems to somehow find the perfect balance for that. QuaintVictorian ideals and manners will charm readers from the start. However, wheremany people get tired of Victorian tropes and their typical gender roles, Rosenshakes it up a bit with a challenge of the traditional gender roles that trulyshakes up all preconceived Victorian ideals. This challenge to traditionalgender roles breathes fresh air into an otherwise overdone and stale timeperiod.
Rosenalso fills his book with plenty of mad, almost over-the-top, science.Imagination is the only boundary with the science that fills the pages of All Men of Genius. This gives the book alighthearted, imaginative and often times funny aspect in spite of the moreserious plot points. Where Rosen’s science could easily get campy and overdone,the author strikes a good balance with his science and his more seriouselements discussed above.
Thecharacters also deserve mention, if not for their names alone. The author seemsto set his cast apart by their names. While the main characters have ratherdroll names like Violet, Ashton and Jack, Rosen used his Victorian time periodto name his secondary cast with names like Bunburry. The antagonist has a rather dark sounding name, as well. These names really set thetone and atmosphere of the times and characters in a subtle, yet noticeableway. Thus, the cast of All Men of Geniuscan often come across as rather quaint and charming based on their names alone.
All Men of Genius is quick moving and,because of it’s rather charming qualities, absorbing. The plot itself is fairlypredictable, and I think anyone reading the book will probably be able to guessthe ending at least two hundred pages in advance, but that’s not necessarily abad thing. All Men of Genius is one of those books people will read to beentertained, and it has entertaining qualities in spades. The dialogue alone isfilled with quippy one-liners that will make you laugh. The plot is so off thewall in part and the science is so extreme and imaginative that some might readit for those aspects alone. Not to mention the quick moving, yet action packedplot.
Despiteall of the good aspects of this book, there are some negative. The charactersdo come off as a bit two-dimensional in parts and some of the dialogue, despitebeing very well done for the most part, does come off as rather uncomfortableand stilted and can break the overall flow of the book. While this book is fastpaced and quickly moving through odd circumstances and happenings, I did, onoccasion, feel that the plot focused a bit too much on romantic interests andnot enough on kill automaton, for example.
All Men of Genius is a book thatsteampunk fans should run to the bookstore to pick up. It’s a fun, not tooserious romp through Victorian London. Rosen fills his pages with incrediblemad science, Victorian manners and even a bit of challenging traditional genderroles. The plot is incredibly fast paced and peppered with some greatone-liners in the dialogue. Despite the fact that the plot is prettypredictable, and some of the characters suffer from a littletwo-dimensionality, All Men of Geniusis such an entertaining, fast paced and atmospheric read that I doubt any ofthe flaws will matter to readers. All Menof Genius is a rare find. It strikes the perfect balance between the wackyand the serious all the while speeding readers through incredible events. It’san absorbing read, well worth checking out.


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