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The Invention of Everything Else

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  2,416 ratings  ·  420 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
...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published February 7th 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Average rating 3.51  · 
Rating details
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Leslie Evans
Feb 24, 2008 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 person
...more
Amitha
Feb 28, 2008 added it
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
Jayanth - A Capricious Reader
Incredible writing, very interesting characters, fascinating interactions between them. But a clumsy story structure and ending, in my opinion.

If this was just a historical drama without the time travelling mess, this book is a 5 starer. I loved all the main characters, their quirks and all. I also loved how the narration switches back and forth between two time periods. That was enough to make the concept of 'time' a little confusing, but it was fine as long as I could understand the story. But
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Maggie
Mar 17, 2008 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
May 04, 2008 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
Baba
May 21, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Orange Prize shortlisted, a fictionalized, almost part sci-fi account of the last week of life of radio and alternating current inventor Nikola Tesla when discovered living permanently in his hotel room by a chambermaid. I found this really difficult to get into, and probably need to re-read it. 3 out of 12
...more
Ron Charles
Nov 28, 2013 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
Ruby
Oct 04, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: y2010
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
switterbug (Betsey)
Feb 27, 2011 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
Sam
I had a feeling that I would enjoy this book but I honestly did not think I would enjoy it as much as I did. Being one of those people that considers Nikola Tesla to be one of the most underrated inventors in the world, I was intrigued to see how Hunt would bring him and his story to life. And do you know what? I was not disappointed. She manages to note only bring the inventor to the fore but also the man himself, showing that there was so much more to him than 'just' AC electricity. The story ...more
Amanda
Mar 08, 2016 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
Jessica Potter
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
samantha hunt makes me feel like anything is possible!
Andree
Oct 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017
This sounds like such fun in theory.

I didn't like it. It's not that it's bad so much as it's boring. The plot of this is fragmented and hard to follow, and the characters aren't well enough developed to ensure that my brain engages enough to fill in any of the gaps.

The idea of a young girl befriending Nikola Tesla at the end of his life after he's become a recluse living in a New York hotel is charming.

This was just dull, in my opinion. You get random snapshots from Tesla's life, most of them fr
...more
Linda Robinson
Jul 10, 2011 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
Holly
May 07, 2012 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
Zach
Nov 27, 2008 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.
Sid Nuncius
Nov 14, 2015 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
Stephen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jason Lundberg
Feb 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 25, 2008 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
Sherry
Jun 06, 2008 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. ...more
Lara Martz
Jun 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Didn't f*@k me up quite as much as The Seas did but it was a great story and very beautiful writing. ...more
Jess
Aug 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This novel is a love letter... Several, in fact. It is an ode to the genius Nikola Tesla; an affair with early 1900s New York City; tales of tenderness between a husband and a wife, a father and a a daughter, best friends, a man and a woman, an unrequited love, and true love between a man and his bird; a flirtation with possibility.

Samantha Hunt has a way with words and emotions. She transports you to a place where you can believe in magic... More than that, though, where you actively seek it o
...more
Daryl
Jan 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: female-author
I didn't enjoy this one as much as I've enjoyed Hunt's other work. The premise seemed neat, but the writing just didn't do it for me consistently. It was similar to Lydia Millet's Oh Pure and Radiant Heart (time travel, the great scientific minds of the nuclear era, birds, the potential destruction of humanity), which I also didn't much like, so maybe there's something about this very specific story type that I'm just predisposed to feel meh about. It's a fine book, it just didn't tick every box ...more
Johanna Käck
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought I'd like this book, but I didn't really expect to love it. Yet love it I did. I loved how every page seemed to procure something unexpected. I loved the reminder that what is now perceived as ordinary (that is, electricity) was once extraordinary, and I loved the pure enthusiasm the characters felt towards the world and towards each other. This book is in fact very much about love, in the form of curiousity and wonder and the mysteries of the mundane, and I was utterly smitten.

"The ca
...more
Tracey
Sep 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have mixed feelings of this book. I gave it a 4 because it was well written and I did enjoy the journey but it was a tough start. And I still don't know what to think of the ending. I think I wanted more, something more along the lines of "Safety Not Guaranteed". ...more
CJ
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-fun
Fun to read a light creative YA historical fiction.

Despite today’s technology, thinking about the basics of electricity or radio waves still gives very rich room for imagination.
Jeruen
Jun 09, 2011 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
Chris
Jul 26, 2015 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
...more
Lenny
So many reviews berate this book for disparate plot-lines that don't go anywhere and don't eventually get tied together. These observations are not untrue. But, for me, they are precisely the things that make this book so beautiful. Our selves, our relationships, our worlds, our lives, are fragments. Some of them sad, some of them beautiful, some of them magical, and some of them downright weird. Many of them are pieces we share with someone else's story. And not all the pieces add up - not to 4 ...more
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Mr Tesla 2 37 Dec 15, 2008 09:25PM  

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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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