Perhaps I spoke too soon when I said that Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One is my favorite book of this year (see my post here). I shouldn’t have said that. Especially since I’ve only read four 2011 releases, and right before I’ve read Lev AC Rosen’s All Men of Genius.
All Men of Genius is a genius piece of work. It has romance, witty characters and lots of comedy. However, it’s not really original. Because, for one, it’s similar to Harry Potter. Except that this book uses the steampunk setting, not fantasy. So, the students attend Illyria College, which is the Victorian-era version of Hogwart’s, to study science instead of magic.
But Rosen’s imitation doesn’t stop at Harry Potter. Because he also shamelessly borrowed the ideas of mistaken identities, cross-dressing and living double lives (and even characters’ names) from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, two plays that evidently inspired this book.
The main character in All Men of Genius is Violet Adams, a mechanical genius who aspires to attend Illyria College and prove that women can do more than just sewing. Unfortunately, Illyria College only accept men. So, she assumed the identity of her twin brother, Ashton, to gain entrance to the prestigious school. From there, Violet encounters all manners of trouble that comes from cross-dressing, including blackmail and women falling in love with her.
All Men of Genius may not be original. But Rosen wonderfully deconstructed Twelfth Night and The Importance of Being Earnest, fitted its story into a Harry Potter-like setting, and made a great book of his own. If you happen to miss Harry Potter, or loved the humor of Twelfth Night and The Importance of Being Earnest, I highly recommend this book.