Review – To Best the Boys by Mary Weber

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Title To Best the Boys

Author Mary Weber

Description from Amazon

The task is simple:

Don a disguise.

Survive the labyrinth.

Best the boys.

In a thrilling new fantasy from the bestselling author of the Storm Siren Trilogy, one girl makes a stand against society and enters a world made exclusively for boys.

Every year for the past fifty-four years, the residents of Pinsbury Port have received a mysterious letter inviting all eligible-aged boys to compete for an esteemed scholarship to the all-male Stemwick University. The poorer residents look to see if their names are on the list. The wealthier look to see how likely their sons are to survive. And Rhen Tellur opens it to see if she can derive which substances the ink and parchment are created from, using her father’s microscope.

In the province of Caldon, where women train in wifely duties and men pursue collegiate education, sixteen-year-old Rhen Tellur wants nothing more than to become a scientist. As the poor of her seaside town fall prey to a deadly disease, she and her father work desperately to find a cure. But when her mum succumbs to it as well? Rhen decides to take the future into her own hands—through the annual all-male scholarship competition.

With her cousin, Seleni, by her side, the girls don disguises and enter Mr. Holm’s labyrinth, to best the boys and claim the scholarship prize. Except not everyone is ready for a girl who doesn’t know her place. And not everyone survives the deadly maze.

Welcome to the labyrinth.

Initial Thoughts

I love the idea of a female scientist as the main character.  So many YA books have servants or princesses as the protagonist so it was definitely refreshing to see a girl who wanted to study medicine and wasn’t interested in being a typical lady.

Cover Art

Green😍💚  I don’t have a ton of green books so this cover was a welcome change.  The maze on the cover is also super cool.  Although the maze itself is not featured for very much of the story, I thought it was a unique and memorable feature to include on the cover.

Favorite Part

Lute Wilkes was the best character (besides Rhen).  He was quiet, underrated, and yet understood Rhen in a way that none of the other characters even came close to.  There were several moments in the story where Rhen herself didn’t know what she wanted and Lute was so in tune with that.  I found him to be a refreshing love interest who didn’t want to change Rhen but rather welcomed the fact that she was different.

Final Thoughts

The ending was amazing.  It was mysterious, real, and perfect.  Without spoilers, I can say that the ending felt just right.

I’d also like to note, while I loved that this is a standalone novel, I would read a million more stories about Rhen.


Recommendations for Further Reading

  • Caraval by Stephanie Garber – Caraval also features a competition where the main character is trying to win in order to save a loved one.  There are elements of romance as well that felt similar.
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – competition, romance, mazes;  reading To Best the Boys definitely had me reminiscing about reading The Hunger Games


To Best the Boys on Goodreads

Buy To Best the Boys on Amazon

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