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The Invention of Everything Else

3.53  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,692 Ratings  ·  342 Reviews
New York City thrums with energy, wonder, and possibility in this magical novel about the life of Nikola Tesla.



It is 1943, and the renowned inventor Nikola Tesla occupies a forbidden room on the 33rd floor of the Hotel New Yorker, stealing electricity. Louisa, a young maid at the hotel determined to befriend him, wins his attention through a shared love of pigeons; with he
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Hardcover, 272 pages
Published February 7th 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Leslie Evans
Feb 02, 2013 Leslie Evans rated it it was amazing
When I worked at Barnes & Noble, I would occasionally glance at the learning packets sent to all employees company-wide. In a particularly annoying campaign aimed at bringing us wee booksellers into an assumed corporate culture of Book Lust, they introduced us to a term that I despised from the get-go.

Unputdownable.

Un-put-down-able. Adjective. The otherwise indescribable characteristic of a book that keeps its reader's face glued between its pages. Recommended for use: During sales when a pe
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Meg
May 04, 2008 Meg rated it it was amazing
Where do I even start about how good this book is? I mean first of all it's the best book I've read so far this year. It features many things I love: historically-accurate descriptions of New York City landmarks, NIKOLA TESLA, a love story, government spies, time travel, and that's just to get us started.

I think what it is, it's just that Samantha Hunt writes complete fabric. This is a short book but it is extremely dense, you don't want to miss anything and nor should you. I'm kind of a speed-
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Amitha
Jul 16, 2008 Amitha rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book more than I did. It was beautiful in concept, containing a genius (real-life) scientist, time-travel, romance, and espionage, but somehow I had trouble staying interested. The narrative jumped around a lot and was mostly written in present tense, which I found oddly off-putting. The writing was swirly and ambiguous, filled with ambitious metaphors. But still, I'm not sure why I wasn't captivated by this book and the beautiful writing. The author did an excellent job of ...more
Maggie
Mar 17, 2008 Maggie rated it really liked it
"God said, 'Let Tesla be,' and all was light."
- B. A. Behrend

Nikola Tesla is arguably one of the most important inventors to have ever lived, yet one of the most unsung. To him, we can credit the efficient alternating electrical current system, the remote control, and the radio (although Marconi stole the patent for that last one). He harnessed Niagara Falls' energy potential, is credited with giving birth to robotics, and his "Tesla Coil" gave us neon and fluorescent lighting and x-ray photogra
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Kevin Fanning
Jan 08, 2009 Kevin Fanning rated it really liked it
Here, we'll just use the email I sent to Meg after finishing this:

I really wish The Invention of Everything Else came with a director's
commentary DVD because I don't know how you write a book like this.
Each of the strands in the story is kind of like a perfect little
piece of art, and she just places them perfectly, and you're like Wow,
what is she going to do with that later, I wonder? And she's like No.
Nothing. Just look at it. And you're like YES. Like she knows exactly
how and when and where to
...more
Ruby
Jul 13, 2014 Ruby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
For the first 100 pages, I absolutely adored 'The Invention of Everything Else'. I was just waiting for things to come together, but the writing was beautiful and the setting and the details and the pigeons and Freddie. But the thing is, things never seemed really to get together for me. There were two plotlines, Tesla's and Louisa's and they weren't as interwoven as I'd have liked them to be. I started to realize this during the last 50 pages, where I understood that there was no time left to b ...more
Tony
Feb 11, 2012 Tony rated it it was ok
THE INVENTION OF EVERYTHING ELSE. (2008). Samantha Hunt. **.
The novel has an interesting premise, but the delivery was faulty. It’s the story of the last days of Nicola Tesla, and the friendship that developed between him and a chambermaid that worked at the New Yorker Hotel where he spent the remaining part of his life. Tesla, to tickle your memory, was a great inventor who did not receive credit for much of his work because he didn’t reduce most of it to practice. He is credited with the inve
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Ron Charles
Nov 28, 2013 Ron Charles rated it really liked it
Samantha Hunt's magical new novel is a love letter to one of the world's most remarkable inventors. You may never have heard of Nikola Tesla, but he briefly outshone Edison and Westinghouse, and from the moment you wake up in the morning, you depend on devices made possible by his revolutionary work with electricity. Tesla was born in Serbia in 1856, and his life followed a rags-to-riches-to-rags trajectory that would sound melodramatic if it weren't so tragic and true -- or told with such surpr ...more
Jason Lundberg
Feb 07, 2009 Jason Lundberg rated it really liked it
Shelves: 0wnz0red, reviewed, novels
An astonishingly beautiful evocation of 1940s New York City, and the last days of Nikola Tesla, as befriended by Louisa, a chambermaid in the Hotel New Yorker. Poignant and gorgeously told, with an honest enthusiasm for the age of invention, brought to a screeching close by the advent of corporations and the commodification of the natural world. Hunt manages to bring Tesla to life through his interactions with Louisa, his long-term relationship with a pet pigeon, and his letters to Samuel Clemen ...more
Amanda
Apr 14, 2016 Amanda rated it it was ok
Shelves: magical-realism
I really didn't like Hunt's writing style. Some sentences seemed sloppily constructed where I had to read them again to understand what was being said. Her imagery focused on things like nose hair and peeling skin. So many odd, random, disconnected things were in here that didn't add to whatever plot there was. Did we need a scene of animal torture?? This is supposedly set in 1943 but I never felt that flavour in the text. If this is supposed to be a fictionalization biography of Tesla, I was to ...more
Holly
Dec 08, 2015 Holly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-reads
I feel fondly toward this novel. It had some winning fictional and historical characters (Tesla, Edison, Samuel Clemens, Westinghouse, Alfred Nobel) and a romantic setting at the old New Yorker hotel, and historical interest (and accuracy, according to an interview with an author), and some very fine writing ("Arthur is like a glass vase toppled off the windowsill. He's busted into a hundred distracting shards. He's a little scary, confusing her, reflecting light into her eyes from over there an ...more
Danna
Mar 25, 2008 Danna rated it it was amazing
"Everybody steals in commerce and industry. I've stolen a lot myself. But I know how to steal." Thomas Edison

An understatement, to say the least.

I'm a few chapters into this marvelously imagined and deftly written novel, which pivots around extraordinary inventor Nikola Tesla - a man clearly more interested in the landscape of ideas than receiving fame or credit for his inventions - and an unlikely relationship that develops with a young chambermaid. Pigeons feature prominently. A brilliant rea
...more
Chris
Jul 29, 2015 Chris rated it it was amazing
This was fun. It's about Nicola Tesla, but it's part historial fiction and part fantastical fiction but it works. Tesla is an often under-credited inventor, who invented wireless communication and alternating current electricity. So why is it that Marconi and Edison are who we know for these inventions? Essentially because Tesla was inventing, but not patenting. He was concerned with the ideas and sharing them, but missed out on capitalism.
My dad really liked Tesla. I wish I could have a convers
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Zach
Nov 27, 2008 Zach rated it it was amazing
“The Invention of Everything Else” was a beautifully written story – the kind of story that I would aspire to writing because it so masterfully combines lovely imagery with brilliant and inspiring ideas: it is both a poem and a philosophy, a soul and a story, depicting love, life, and all of the most touching interstices therein.
Sherry
Jun 27, 2008 Sherry rated it really liked it
This book really whetted my appetite to learn more about Tesla. What a fascinating man. I wish he were here with us today to help solve the energy crises. Hunt's book is fanciful, entertaining, well-researched and well-written.
switterbug (Betsey)
Feb 27, 2011 switterbug (Betsey) rated it really liked it
Samantha Hunt's novel is an historical fiction surrounding the last months of the life of Nikola Tesla, the inventor of alternating current electricity. His life was much obscured by the better known Thomas Edison; however, as this book well illuminates, Edison was more rigid, conforming, capitalistic. It is a story about creativity, artistic inspiration, and imagining the unimaginable. What happens if the spirit can transcend into reality? What if a powerful intuition can link us to something i ...more
Linda Robinson
Jul 14, 2011 Linda Robinson rated it it was amazing
I had invented reasons not to like this book. Any woman who is on any list of fabulous under 35 raises my eyebrows. And my super-sensory fault-finding devices. It's historical fiction, which I claim not to like out loud regularly. I loved this book. The electricity that plays both a protagonist and antagonist role zizzes on every page. Tesla is wholly imagined, as though he is sitting in a chair next to you reading the book, correcting impressions, making suggestions. Louisa is human and otherwo ...more
Jeruen
Jun 09, 2011 Jeruen rated it it was ok
It's been a while since I had published a book review. In fact, it was 17 days since I published the last book review I had. And there is a reason for that.

The thing is, I am one of those people in which I cannot leave a book half-read. Even if I disliked the book, I would try to read it all the way to the end, with the hope that somewhere in the middle, the book would change a bit, and I would come to like it. Most of the times, the books would turn out that way, you know, those books that just
...more
Julie Whelan
May 19, 2009 Julie Whelan rated it liked it
Shelves: booksread
This is a very interesting book combining biographical and historical and even sci fi aspects. The main characters are Nicholas Tesla the physicist and inventor, Louisa, a chambermaid at the Hotel New Yorker; Walter, Louisa's father, a night watchman at the New York Public Library and Azor, Walter's friend since boyhood. The struggles of Nicholas Tesla to come to the U.S. and develop his inventions (notably AC current) are painful. Thomas Edison uses him cruelly, others befriend him (J.P. Morgan ...more
Diana
Jun 20, 2009 Diana rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and have found myself thinking about it in the weeks since I finished it. Before I read the book, I read someplace that this would be a hit with fans of The Time Traveler's Wife, and I can see why that connection was made. While this novel doesn't have lovers shuttling back and forth in time, the element of time travel is one of the secondary plotlines, but thankfully not in a geeky annoying science fiction way, thankfully.

The story revolves around Louisa, a young
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Val
Mar 10, 2016 Val rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: womens-prize
Towards the end of his life, the scientist and electrical pioneer Nikola Tesla lived in a hotel and fed pigeons. He never made a fortune from his inventions, but the scientific principles he discovered which enabled their and other devices to be developed hold true and are still taught. He is one of a select band of scientists to have an SI unit named in his honour (for magnetic flux density). This book takes some of the facts of Tesla's life and weaves it together with a fictitious story of the ...more
amy
Sep 14, 2015 amy rated it liked it
Copy and pasted conversational thoughts: I have been trying to decide how exactly I feel about it! it was well written (its prose was lovely, and for the most part, the organization and narrative were very good too) and had beautiful ideas but it wasn't as full-bodied as I needed them to be (if that makes sense) in order for me to really like/savor the book and to recommend it to others. usually I give a book four stars if I would read it again or would recommend it to someone else, and this did ...more
niffer
Jan 24, 2016 niffer rated it it was amazing
I read this in 2012 when I was sick and also just learning about Tesla. It was a nice mixture of historical fact and fantasy written in a whimsical style, and really personalized Nikola for me.

Of course I got it out from the library because of the cover- Tesla and I share an obsession with pigeons!
Jessi
Apr 10, 2015 Jessi rated it really liked it
What a beautiful book! Scientists, love, inventors, and curiosity, held in an air of magic. The characters, are just lovable, every single one of them, the pigeons are, what the heck are they? I don't know but they BELONG! Disappointments, sorrow, joy, discovery, it is all in this little novel, rich with imagery, and hope.
Mister Mank
Apr 29, 2008 Mister Mank rated it it was amazing
Samantha Hunt is a very gifted writer.

Fact and fiction, science and imagination, life and death (oh, and love and love) are blurred. Hunt brings Tesla to life -- so much so that I considered dropping by the New Yorker for a visit. Everyone is so goddamn likable in Hunt's head (except Edison, though I guess he had it coming to him) that I was smitten for several days. Beautiful, funny, sad, and well-told; I think you ought to read it. However, I would not recommend this book if you are against pi
...more
W
Jul 03, 2012 W rated it it was amazing
So I started this book, had no idea what was going on, forgot what happened, then started again. When I did, I really read it and I was shocked by how good it was. There's a ton of technical language that I'm not sure if it even makes sense but it sounds cool. I know Nikola Tesla was a real person but what else in the book is real, I'm not sure. I liked the way the book was written. I liked the little details, the many famous people mentioned. I liked the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. ...more
Sid Nuncius
Nov 14, 2015 Sid Nuncius rated it did not like it
I am a physicist by training and wanted to like this book because it is about Tesla for whom I have a huge admiration (and who is honoured in science by having the unit measuring the strength of a magnetic field named after him). Furthermore, I don't like writing critical reviews and usually only review things I've liked, but with Vine you review what you receive and the truth is that I really disliked this book.

My main objection to it is the style, because it is so mannered, so overblown and so
...more
Todd Stockslager
Jun 08, 2015 Todd Stockslager rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Skirting that edge of fantasy and fictionalized biography limned by Jane Mendelsohn in I Was Amelia Earhart, Hunt's slim novel traces the trajectory of Nikola Tesla's life and invention of alternating current electricity. Fantastic things happen, some real, some imagined, some happy, most tragic and profound.

Throughout, Tesla is (almost) unremittingly eccentric, continually inventive, and painfully unadapted to any understanding of human psychology and society, outliving his big invention and it
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Miriam
Feb 05, 2015 Miriam rated it it was amazing
I read this book in 2012 after I heard an interview with Samantha Hunt on Studio 360 (http://www.studio360.org/story/183184...). This podcast aired first aired on January 25, 2008 and was rebroadcast on January 27, 2012. It occurred to me as I was listening to the interview that Tesla must have been an introvert and an HSP - highly sensitive person, according to Elaine Aron's research (hsperson.com). I have both of these traits, and was very motivated to learn about Tesla after learning from the ...more
Hanna Smith
Jun 01, 2015 Hanna Smith rated it did not like it
I did not enjoy this book at all. I could not finish it, it was not entertaining and the author rambles. Would not recommend.
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Mr Tesla 2 32 Dec 15, 2008 09:25PM  
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190905
Samantha Hunt was born in 1971 in Pound Ridge, New York, the youngest of six siblings. She was raised in a house built in 1765 which wasn't haunted in the traditional sense but was so overstuffed with books— good and bad ones— that it had the effect of haunting Hunt all the same. Her mother is a painter and her father was an editor. In 1989 Hunt moved to Vermont where she studied literature, print ...more
More about Samantha Hunt...

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“I'll just tell you what I remember because memory is as close as I've gotten to building my own time machine.” 16 likes
“Wait," I say. "I think you're mistaken. Saying there is no dream is the same as saying everything is a dream. Isn't it? Everyone's a dreamer? Extraordinary things happen all the time even when we're awake. What I meant to suggest to you, if indeed that was me in your dream doing the suggesting, is that there is only one world. This one. The dream is real. The ordinary is the wonderful. The wonderful is the ordinary.” 11 likes
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