Book Reviews, YA book reviews

To Best the Boys by Mary Weber (ARC Review)



My Rating ~ Five stars


RELEASE DATE: 5 March 2019

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Format: E-ARC

Pages: 352


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.





Many thanks of Thomas Nelson for providing me with a complimentary copy of To Best the Boys via NetGalley.  All opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

In a world where only the men are provided opportunities for higher education and careers of their choosing, Rhen desperately wants to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a scientist.  Especially as she is desperate to find a cure for the baffling disease killing her mother and others in her town.  When she realises she isn’t going to succeed without access to a proper lab, she decides to enter the yearly contest for a university scholarship.  The contest is no normal contest though, the hopeful candidates must navigate their way through a labyrinth that not everyone survives.

I absolutely loved this book.  I couldn’t put it down!  The characters were interesting and there were several twists I didn’t see coming.  We often get either a fast paced story, OR great character and world building, but Mary Weber somehow managed to deliver on both accounts.  The storyline was wonderful and I adore anything to do with games and mazes, so this was right up my alley.  I loved the fact that To Best the Boys also mixed science and fantasy so well.  There were ghouls and sirens, but also chemical compounds, microscope and blood work.  You know what else there was in this book? PARENTS.  Like, actual parents.  I know, a YA fantasy book where the main characters aren’t orphans for once.  Amazing!

I can’t say too much more without spoilers, but I’d highly recommend this book if you love intense trials, smart women who defy societal norms, magic and a touch of romance that doesn’t interfere with or take over the storyline!




To best the boys. Pic by bookbookowl

Photo via my Instagram account – Bookbookowl



3 thoughts on “To Best the Boys by Mary Weber (ARC Review)”

  1. This is on my TBR and I recently passed it by, but after reading your review I am going to read it sooner than I was planning! Fast pace, great characters and world building all in one book?!?! That is a promise that I can’t wait to see come true!


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