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All Men of Genius

You know you’ve discovered Adult-Books-4-Teens gold when an author takes the time to assure readers that he has not written a YA novel. Lev AC Rosen posted the following note on his website homepage:

“Note from the author: A lot of people who have approached me or emailed me about the book seem to be working from the assumption that it is a Young Adult book, and I feel I should state, for the record, that it is not intended as YA.  Certainly, there is some crossover appeal, and yes, the protagonist is 17 and in college, but there’s more than a fair amount of bad language, and some sexual content as well.  My publicist says that in her opinion it’s for High School and up, and I’m inclined to agree, in general.  Obviously, some kids aren’t going to be mature enough for this in high school, and some might be mature enough before.  And of course, I think anyone who wants to read it and feels they are mature enough should do so, but I feel it needs to be emphasized: this is not intended as YA.”

Interesting. I think the issue is likely the cover art — it does look quite young. He is probably concerned that an unsuspecting 7th or 8th grader is going to get more than he or she bargained for. He is certainly correct to say that there is crossover appeal — this is exactly the sort of adult book that teen readers enjoy. Accessible writing, imaginative plot, charming characters, a hint of conspiracy. It’s all here.

Rosen’s site offers a preview (the first two chapters), as well as a definition of steampunk for the uninitiated. His bio reveals that he has already written the sequel.

ROSEN, Lev AC. All Men of Genius. 462p. Tor. 2011. Tr $24.99. ISBN 978-0-7653-2794-9. LC number unavailable.  All Men of Genius

Adult/High SchoolThe Importance of Being Earnest meets Twelfth Night in this steampunk fantasy. Violet Adams obsessed with science and inventions, but in Victorian England, there aren’t many doors open to young women. Certainly not the doors to Illyria, the science college. What else is a girl genius to do? She swaps identity with her twin brother, Ashton–a fabulously gay blade who is witty and sharp as a tack–and heads off to Illyria, immersing herself in the life of a young male college student while trying to dodge the innocent advances of Cecily, the Duke of Illyria’s ward, herself a smart young inventor. The problem, of course, is that Violet is falling for the duke, who is worried that his attraction to her is not acceptable, or “inverted.” This tale of cross dressing, science, romance, and rampaging automatons, complete with a host of quirky professors who might remind readers of those in the “Harry Potter” series, will delight teens, as will the rough and tumble descriptions of college life, with the young men’s focus on sex and drinking. Rosen’s wonderfully inventive vision of Victorian-era London has just enough staples of steampunk–automatons, super-light airships, and analog computers (the inventor of the first computer, Ada Lovelace, is a wonderful character here). The romance will appeal to fans of Gail Carriger’s “Parasol Protectorate” series (Orbit). The villain, the blackmailing Malcolm Volio, is a bit underdeveloped and so his comeuppance feels a little less than satisfactory. Otherwise, a brilliantly fun novel.–Caroline Bartels, Horace Mann School, Bronx, NY

Angela Carstensen About Angela Carstensen

Angela Carstensen is Head Librarian and an Upper School Librarian at Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City. Angela served on the Alex Awards committee for four years, chairing the 2008 committee, and chaired the first YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adult committee in 2009. Recently, she edited Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Titles and Programs for a New Generation (ALA Editions, 2011). Contact her via Twitter @AngeReads.


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