To Best the Boys by Mary Weber | Book Review

guys, I’m squealing and screaming and yelping because this was one of the most anticipated books of 2019 for me. Enjoy the not-so-coherent book review!

ohh and did I mention this book releases in three days?

To Best the Boys by Mary Weber

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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.


I read To Best the Boys in pretty much one sitting and absolutely loved it. It’s about a girl who enters a maze and competes against boys to receive a scholarship to the all-male Stemwick University–doesn’t that give you the Hunger Games vibes?

It certainly did for me, at least for the first one-third of the book (it’s even in present tense!). And then it kind of steered off into its own thing, which I loved! I wasn’t quite expecting the maze to be what it was–I was expecting more of a Hunger Games arena type of thing?–but it was cool anyway, and I liked all the mental intuition that it required vs. physical strength.

A+ for the gorgeous writing that is laced with sarcasm very similar to my own (seriously, people. when I say TBTB is right up my alley, it is. right up to the sarcasm). 😉 The characters were all so complex and unique–I think Rhen was my favorite for her determination and courage, but Seleni was a close contender because of how different she is to most YA girls.

As for the male characters, LUTE. I wish he could have been explored more as a character, but I wholeheartedly ship him and Rhen. Perfect match for each other, they are. And even though this makes him kind of a cliché male character, I love his gentle exterior and fiery + passionate inside personality. ;D And… Beryll. I’m not quite sure what to think of him? I like that he’s very different from most YA male characters.. but still. The screaming and generall wimpiness (sorry, Beryll). xD I do like him though.

Deep breath, Lilian.

I’ll wrap up the review now but before I do that. Let me mention the plot twists? There was one that I expected (I think it was on purpose–Mary wanted us to expect it?) and then it turned into a double plot twist and reminded me how much of a writing genius Mary is.

Overall, a must-read if you enjoy books that have a similar style to The Hunger Games, and I strongly recommend it even if you don’t. 5 stars.

Note: TBTB doesn’t have any faith content whatsoever (nothing even vaguely representing God as far as I could tell), which I found strange since it was published by Thomas Nelson…? Just something to keep in mind. 🙂

*ftc disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

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I hope you enjoyed my somewhat lengthy and rambly review! I tend to not write reviews as well when I love the book because what is there to say other than I loved it?? Anyone else the same? xP

Is To Best the Boys on your TBR this year? Have you read any of Mary Weber’s other books? What did you think of them?

21 thoughts on “To Best the Boys by Mary Weber | Book Review

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