All Men of Genius
Lev AC Rosen
Tor/Tom Doherty Associates, October 2011
I love steampunk stories. I really do. And this one ranks right up there. Better yet, Rosen’s story of a genius girl masquerading as a young man in order to attend Illyria College for budding scientists, leads us far beyond the normal clockwork idea of science. Attending Illyria, young men learn not only about gears and all things mechanical, but also chemistry, surgical alterations and additions, and astronomy, among other branches of scientific discovery. However, this being the Victorian era, no women are allowed, so Violet Adams is forced to take on the persona of her twin brother. Luckily, a friend of their’s is attending also, and helps Violet maintain her masquerade. But Violet, being a genius–and just a little arrogant along with it–also makes an enemy of a young man whose desire is to rule the world.
Of course, Violet just happens to fall in love with the school’s founder’s son, Ernest, while Ernest’s female ward falls in love with her. Meanwhile Jack, Violet’s friend is in love with Cicely, the ward. It’s all very convoluted and amusing, but you really need to read it for yourself. At the end, there’s a big battle, and all becomes clear. You’ll see.
If there’s anything I didn’t like about the book it was the use of animal experimentation. Even then the author managed to use a certain bunny to help lighten the story’s tone. The characters were well-drawn, if sometimes a little predictable, the dialogue carried the plot forward, and the science as depicted seemed almost doable. Fun stuff and recommended.
Reviewed by Carol Crigger, December 2011.