Review: To Best the Boys
Title: To Best the Boys
Series: N/A - Standalone
Author: Mary Weber
Release Date: March 19th, 2019
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Synopsis from Goodreads: Every year for the past fifty-four years, the residents of Pinsbury Port receive a mysterious letter inviting all eligible-aged boys to compete for an esteemed scholarship to the all-male Stemwick University. Every year, the poorer residents look to see that 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 are trained in wifely duties and men are encouraged into 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’s ready for a girl who doesn’t know her place. And not everyone survives the maze.
My Review: The thing that I really loved about this book was the characters that Weber created. I wanted to root for Rehn the whole time and found myself not wanting to put the book down because I needed to know what happened to her. I found her to be delightfully sassy and outspoken. I also enjoyed the cast of supporting characters, including the villainous tending ones. I also loved the labyrinth part of the story, although it seemed much to short a part of the book for my tastes. I wish the competition section had been longer to really build the setting. I feel like for once a book lacked some of the world building I like to see. Weber tells us there are monsters but we don’t see any of the effects of that in the story. The town doesn’t seem to need protection from them, there is no talk of their effect on jobs or lives. I think delving into that a bit more would have added more atmosphere to the book. Overall it was a really fun read that I would recommend to anyone looking for a girl power YA fantasy read that is quick. This book would also be suitable for middle grade readers.
*I received this book from Thomas Nelson and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*