Review: All Men of Genius by Lev A.C Rosen

Publisher: Tor
Where did you get the book: Paper arc from publisher
Release date: Out now

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.

allmenofgenius 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, and the way Violet’s pulse quickens whenever the young duke, Ernest (who has a secret past of his own), 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.

*blurb taken from Goodreads*

Once in awhile I like to read a book outside of the romance genre. All Men of Genius was a fun and addictive read, though, the development of the characters didn’t go very deep. It’s also not a YA, which I was mistaken about when I tweeted about it!

The heroine, Violet Adams, is a young scientist but she’s forced to create her work in her own basement because society doesn’t allow for females to be scientists. Even the servants of the household do not approve of Violet and whisper about her mad and unsavory creations. Violet knows that life on the marriage mart is somewhere she cannot be. She wants to attend Illyria College, where the brightest of scientists are admitted to learn and improve in their chosen crafts; Violet is a craft-master at machines and steam engine contraptions. There’s one issue–and that is Illyria College does not allow females to attend–only men. This is unacceptable to Violet so she hatches up a plan with her twin brother, Ashton. Violet will send an application to Illyria in the disguise of her brother, Ashton. It’s a risky and dangerous plan as it could land Violet in jail for impersonating a man, and it will ruin the reputation of the family.

What I liked so much about All Men of Genius was the messages littered throughout the novel–and through Violet as a character–acknowledging the inequalities that women faced. Violet was a great character who was unapologetically super-smart, and her cross-dressing made for some very fun reading. I don’t often read books by male authors, but I’ll definitely be reading more books by Lev A.C Rosen who is a very talented writer. Whilst I loved some parts of the book, I thought that some aspects of the book were weak.

The plot of the book didn’t have a strong main hook. The baddie turned out to be somewhat of a caricature, and I didn’t feel there was any strong or impending doom or danger. The beginning made for very slow reading, and it took awhile for Violet to reach the college. I also didn’t like the romance because the characters weren’t developed and everyone was quickly paired off in a romance which came off as quite contrived. The book also has middle book syndrome where the middle seems to run on and on.

I didn’t particularly have very strong feelings for Ernest, and I wasn’t that invested in his romance with Violet. The biggest problem I had was that not enough characters were developed enough to really understand them, and there were too many characters introduced. Ernest’s ward, Cecily, I found to be annoying rather than sweet and cute.

What I hated in the book was the science experiments on animals, and it was abhorrent what the scientists did to the poor animals. I couldn’t find much humour in the talking rabbit who swore like a sailor.

All Men of Genius ended up being a mixed bag for me. I wanted a stronger plot, but the middle and end didn’t really engage me and hook me. Violet’s charade is quickly revealed and concluded at the end of the book which seemed a tad rushed. But I loved Violet and she was the star of the book for me.

I give All Men of Genius a C.


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