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"All Men of Genius" is a 2011 novel written by Lev A.C. Rosen. The book takes place in an unspecified year in the Victorian Era, in an alternative England with high technology. This book falls squarely into the genre of steampunk, with mad scientists, clockwork contraptions and Victorian manners. The only thing it is missing, I believe, is goggles.

The plot of the work, which has references to Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, is about a girl named Violet Adams who wants to attend the best scientific college in England, but sadly can not because it only admits men. In a predictable move, she dresses up like a man so she can enter, and begins a year long ruse that gets more and more complicated as various characters fall in love with her (some while thinking she is a woman, others while thinking she is a man), romantic triangles and blackmails proliferate, and a mysterious army of clockwork soldiers haunts the castle basement.

Taking away the steampunk elements, the book is a comedy of manners using the device of hidden identity (in this case, gender swapping), a story that has been told many times. The book works because it gives the reader about what they expect out of a Victorian-era novel, with the added element of the book's fantastical elements, and how it lends itself to a series of sub-plots.

The book has an obvious feminist element, with the plot hinging on Adams desire to get an education that is denied her. However, much like with the steampunk aspects, the feminism is so generalized that is hardly seems as an original, or important plot point. Despite some hints of social realism, this book is more of a young adult adventure book, and some of its elements (students at a boarding school with eccentric professors and hidden menaces) seem to owe much to the Harry Potter series.

I enjoyed this book, but would have enjoyed it more if there was slightly more daring in terms of plot, style and social messages.

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