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The Invention Of Everything Else

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  1,352 ratings  ·  306 reviews
'The Invention of Everything Else' is a moving exploration of human loneliness and isolation, and the opposing powers of emotional and scientific imagination.
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published by Harvill Press (first published January 1st 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Leslie Evans
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...more
Meg
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-...more
Amitha
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
"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...more
Ruby
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
Kevin Fanning
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
Tony
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...more
Jason Lundberg
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
Danna
"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
Zach
“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
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)
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
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
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
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
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...more
Finney Jean Soda
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
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
LoriO
Interesting. Really well written, I thought, with whatever-you'd-call-it (magical realism? touches of fantasy? flashes of psychosis? I don't like that last one, but I'm not sure it's not true) seamlessly interwoven with the sorts of human connections that feel oh so very real and true. Not all my questions were answered in the end, and that's fine, in this case, though it usually bugs me. Even though there were one or two places where the internal logic of the story didn't seem to track properly...more
Cheryl in CC NV
Feb 02, 2011 Cheryl in CC NV rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cheryl in CC NV by: GR group
Poetic & graceful. Metaphysical, metaphorical, and enlightening. Almost too short - I wanted to spend more time with the characters. It did, however, take some time to read, because there were no cliches, no shortcuts, no icons - everything had to be processed afresh by the fore-brain. I think I might have preferred no first-person narration, no present-tense and different fonts for different voices.
Jishi
Samantha Hunt has this subtle but powerful story-telling prowess. Here, I found the many facets of love though, this isn't a romance novel.

I felt Louisa's first stirrings of love-- until it solidifies-- for Arthur, felt Walter's lingering and yet enduring love for Freddie (though, in-universe, she's been gone 26 years) and here I felt the impossible love Nikola has for Katharine. And for a moment, it all felt so real as if these feelings were genuinely mine. That they originated from me. Then,...more
Pia
I loved this book. It's got many moving parts and celebrates the joy of making not money, but things that work. The architecture of the book is inventive, driven by curiosity and compassion, the urge to fly and the desire to love and be loved. I followed along happily.
Robin
What a great book! I was lost in 1943 as I followed the protagonist through her ritual of cleaning the rooms at the Hotel New Yorker...

And if you haven't seen The Prestige, I suggest you do... as Nikolas Tesla is in that movie as well....
Adi
Jun 18, 2009 Adi is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: paused
It's about Nikola Tesla, who was AWESOME, but reading a novel based on someone real is weird--I keep wondering how much of it is based on fact and how much is complete imagination. So far so good, though.
Rebecca
This was definitely a better read than listen. The author based Tesla on a few of his biographies and he had such a believable voice. The relationships between everyone were so sweet.
Robert Gluck
Beautiful writing. Vivid characters.

I wish I had read the Wikipedia entry on Tesla before I started as it would have helped me understand how much of his strange behavior was based on who he really was and not just a novel device.

I strongly dislike the use of time travel in stories so I found the time machine thread distracting because I was afraid the plot was going to unravel amidst some absurdity. I couldn't orient myself in terms of whether the novel was pure fantasy or not.

Having finishe...more
Michael
I had a scathing review drafted for this somewhere but I can't find it. Anyway, this book had a lot of promise and much of the first third was good, but it ended up being too "literary" and pushy for me all in all. Instead of sticking with fictionalizing Nikola Tesla and his life, the author invested a lot in her young female protagonist, who just happens to be Tesla's maid, and the story ends up being more about resolution for her and her completely fictional family rather than about Tesla. It'...more
Laura Douglass
Oct 17, 2009 Laura Douglass rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who enjoy science/history. Anyone interested in Nikola Tesla.
I really enjoyed reading and learning from this book. All of the characters were spell-binding, except perhaps the main character... whos name I've already forgot.:\ Oh wait Lou! Yes, now I remeber. The only thing that stuck with me about her was that she had black hair and was a maid at the New Yorker.

I found most parts fascinating, excpecialy the parts about Nikola Tesla and the parts that included Arthur. I smiled everytime Nikola was refered to as "Niko" and I loved how he called his friend...more
Linda Smith
Waiting for the Bolt bus on the corner outside the New Yorker Hotel recently, I happened to glance up and see a tablet on the wall mentioning that Nikola Tesla had once lived there. Never knew much about him except that he had inspired my scientific son to build multiple Tesla coils in our house during high school. When I spotted the cover of this book, evoking 1940's Manhattan and the mysterious Mr. Tesla, I just knew I had to read it.

What a wonderful book it is: a fictional account of his las...more
Courtney
While it may seem counterintuitive to have a reclusive/anti-social genius like Nikola Tesla function as a novel's structural adhesive, Samantha Hunt makes the arrangement work beautifully. There are several peripheral narratives within The Invention of Everything Else, but Tesla is the central figure who brings them all together.

I should confess that I’ve always had a geek girl crush on Mr. Tesla. When my peers were ogling the Backstreet Boys, I was melting over Tesla’s alluring mystique. I was...more
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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
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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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