Title: To Best the Boys
Author: Mary Weber
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: March 19, 2019
Page Count: 336
My rating: 4 stars
About the book:
Perfect for fans of The Scorpio Races and Caraval, To Best the Boys is a new fantasy novel from the beloved and bestselling author of the Storm Siren trilogy, Mary Weber.
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.
To Best the Boys by Mary Weber is a young adult fantasy that I couldn’t help but think was a bit like taking The Handmaid’s Tale and mixing with The Hunger Games. This is a lighter read than either mentioned but it does take place in a male dominated society which runs an annual competition.
Rhen Tellur is unlike other girls her own age who only train to run a household and please a husband. Rhen instead is out surveying corpses and trying to come up with a cure to her mother’s disease working alongside her father in his laboratory wanting nothing more than to become a scientist herself.
Every year the citizens receive an invitation for all teenage boys to come compete to win a scholarship to the all male university. The labyrinth is by no means easy to complete and not all entering will make it out but Rhen decides that she needs to do whatever she can to change her own future and win that scholarship so dressing as a boy along with her cousin Rhen enters this year’s competition.
The world building in this one with the treatment of women in the society could really remind you of any time in history that has women barefoot and pregnant and off in the kitchen. Heck what am I saying? There are still areas and women treated as less than in today’s world so as far as that goes it gave it a realistic feel. Rhen then became that voice in the crowd that refuses to be treated as less and stands up for what she wants in an interesting fantasy story way by competing in the male tournament. There was plenty of action and adventure to the story to keep the pages turning and you can’t help but root for Rhen “to best the boys”!
I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
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About the author:
Mary Weber is the award-winning HarperCollins author of the bestselling young adult Storm Siren Trilogy, and The Sofi Snow duology. An avid school and conference speaker, Mary’s passion is helping others find their voice amid a world that often feels too loud. When she’s not plotting adventures involving tough girls who frequently take over the world, Mary sings 80s hairband songs to her three muggle children and ogles her husband who looks strikingly like Wolverine. They live in California which is perfect for stalking LA bands and the ocean. She gets nerdy at maryweber.com; Facebook: marychristineweber; Instagram: maryweberauthor; Twitter: @mchristineweber; and Goodreads.