Thursday, March 22, 2012

All Men of Genius by Lev AC Rosen

All Men of Genius by Lev Rosen is a brilliant mashup of so many great things -- Steampunk! Shakespeare! Oscar Wilde! Secret scientific societies bent on world domination! Swearing rabbits! -- that I am just left marveling at how much fun it all is.

On the surface, this is a steampunk retelling of Twelfth Night. Violet Adams is one of the finest scientific minds of her time, but she cannot attend Illyria, England's premiere scientific college, because Illyria only admits men. The solution? Violet will masquerade as her twin brother Ashton for a year, to prove to the duke who runs Illyria that women should be admitted to the school. While she is there, she will create some brilliant invention to reveal her genius to the world. Of course, she doesn't factor in the possibility that she might fall in love with the duke. . . .

Naturally, Rosen deviates from Shakespeare's plot and characterization occasionally, but he stays true to the essence of the play. There are also a few phenomenal riffs on The Importance of Being Earnest, including some nearly verbatim lines from my favorite scene in that play (the one where Cecily and Gwendolyn meet for the first time).

This book had me in stitches part of the time, and nearly biting my fingernails during certain other tense or spooky moments. While it's marketed as an adult book, I think older teens would enjoy it as well. I'm not particularly well-versed in steampunk, having only dabbled around the edges as it were, so I'd say this could also serve as a nice introduction to the genre for the curious but inexperienced.

(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)

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