Book Review: To Best the Boys by Mary Weber

Rating: ★★★★


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.

Review: This was the perfect book to drag me out of my book slump! It was exciting and wasn’t as predictable as expected. There were a few twists that totally shocked me and the actual storyline of this book was incredible.

All ‘gentle persons’ between the age of 17 and 19 are invited to enter the Labyrinth. A maze of riddles and exercises. If you escape the Labyrinth unharmed and alive you receive a scholarship to the best university ever. I loved the concept of this plot and it was quite endearing.

Rhen is a girl eager to learn about biology to help eradicate a disease affecting many commoners including her mother. She was a great heroine! She wasn’t afraid to stand up for herself and act against the patriarchy. She found a loop in the rules of the Labyrinth and used it to her and vantage.

There were a few love interests in this book and a love triangle ( however it was very one-sided). There was a good balance of romance and the actual story which I enjoyed and was eager to learn more about both.

The thing I felt could have been better was the beginning. It takes a short time for Rhen to decide to enter the Labyrinth although a lot of description prior to this point. I think that there should have been at least some planning even for a couple of days or a week. I don’t really mind the spontaneity but I did kind of get impatient on waiting for her to finally enter the Labyrinth. There was a lot of setting the scene which I believe didn’t need to be elongated. Other than that (and the building a boat scene which I don’t understand) I enjoyed this book a lot!

Overall this book was just the thing I needed to get out of my book slump. There is some women empowerment, romance and secret identities! I loved the cover of this book too.

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