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To Best the Boys

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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 b 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.


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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 b 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.

30 review for To Best the Boys

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mary Weber

    I clicked "Read" on my Goodreads bar and it promptly nudged me to (1) rate my own book, and (2) answer the question, "What did you think?" Well... to the first part - I won't rate it other than to say...you know, my mom and I kind of like it. To the second - What I think is that I wrote To Best the Boys for the girl I've been and still often am. I wrote it for the daughters I have who've lived so much of this book, and for my sister who recently returned to school and earned a bio-chem degree. I w I clicked "Read" on my Goodreads bar and it promptly nudged me to (1) rate my own book, and (2) answer the question, "What did you think?" Well... to the first part - I won't rate it other than to say...you know, my mom and I kind of like it. To the second - What I think is that I wrote To Best the Boys for the girl I've been and still often am. I wrote it for the daughters I have who've lived so much of this book, and for my sister who recently returned to school and earned a bio-chem degree. I wrote it for our mom who's struggled with dyslexia her entire life and is one of the most successful women I know. I wrote it for every girl who's been told to quiet down, calm down, sit down, or has been intimidated by another because they could not handle her strength. I wrote it to honor those who've had to break a mold just to get places and be heard. I also wrote it to honor the heart of my 12-year-old son who understands what it is to be a good, good man. And I wrote it for certain other dear family members and friends. Author note: You’ll notice a variety of individuals, families, and situations represented in To Best the Boys, particularly some reflecting learning struggles and different needs. These (Rhen, Ben, and Lute's family specifically) are based upon specific loved ones within my own family and close friends, and it was their desire and mine to represent them accurately and with honor in this novel. For this reason, they were given absolute control over their word choices, scenarios, and representation within To Best the Boys (and in this note) and final say on its finished version. However, we are aware that not everyone agrees on language, word preferences, or portrayal. With that in mind, if anything rings as inaccurate, hurtful, or insensitive to you, please accept our very deepest apologies. Our hope is to honor the beautiful people and stories in this world. And in doing so, we hope we’ve honored you, dear reader. Humbly, ~m (and since some have asked, the preorder gift info is here)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Chaima ✨ شيماء

    I swear trying to keep up with all these 2019 releases is basically like having a second job. But this sounds so insanely good! girl scientists refusing to fit the small space the world leaves for them and competing for an esteemed scholarship against the boys? WHERE DO I SIGN UP?

  3. 4 out of 5

    Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

    March Fairyloot Book Of The Month. Click on link below the picture to see the wonderful goodies! THE GOODIES Thank you to Thomas Nelson for a hardback of this book! Partial quote from the author: For the girl who’s been told to quiet down, calm down, sit down, or just leave it to the men-this is for you. And to those who told you such things? Watch. Us. Rise. I feel like this will be an inspiration to young girls. The book will show them they don't need a man to make it in life and to think for March Fairyloot Book Of The Month. Click on link below the picture to see the wonderful goodies! THE GOODIES Thank you to Thomas Nelson for a hardback of this book! Partial quote from the author: For the girl who’s been told to quiet down, calm down, sit down, or just leave it to the men-this is for you. And to those who told you such things? Watch. Us. Rise. I feel like this will be an inspiration to young girls. The book will show them they don't need a man to make it in life and to think for themselves. Rhen wants to be a scientist and she creeps around the town collecting "things" to try to find a cure for a disease that is killing people. Some of her loved ones have the disease. Rhen and her father both want to find a cure. Meanwhile, Rhen and her cousin Seleni enter a maze that is supposedly for only boys. It doesn't specifically say that in the invitation so there is that. The two girls and boys go up against each other in the maze and there are some deaths. But in the end will get to see Rhen make life choices that include a boy but not primarily a boy. She's going to do HER thing. I liked the book well enough, I just felt there was bit lacking in the maze department and a few other things that kept me from giving this more than 3 starts. Enjoy! Mel MY BLOG MY AMAZON REVIEW

  4. 5 out of 5

    jessica

    hm. there is a solid foundation present within this story, with really creative ideas, but it isnt developed as well as it could be. in other words, this isnt bad but it could be better. strong feminist vibes and women empowerment are very present themes in the story, but its a little too overpowering. every word and action by rhen is basically to prove men wrong. i get it, i think it will inspire the target audience of this story, but it was just a bit much for me and took too much attention aw hm. there is a solid foundation present within this story, with really creative ideas, but it isnt developed as well as it could be. in other words, this isnt bad but it could be better. strong feminist vibes and women empowerment are very present themes in the story, but its a little too overpowering. every word and action by rhen is basically to prove men wrong. i get it, i think it will inspire the target audience of this story, but it was just a bit much for me and took too much attention away from the plot. there is a really unique urban fantasy atmosphere filled with ghouls and sirens, but the world building is lacking. there is a really odd shift between quite formal language and modern terms/phrases, which confused me in terms of figuring out the time period of the story. and there really isnt any sort of background on why the world is the way it is. the way to win a scholarship to uni is by being the winner of the competition, which is a maze. fun, right? except the competition itself is only a couple chapters long. the book blurb makes it seem like its the focus of the story, when its actually not. i was very underwhelmed with it. there is also a really interesting side plot regarding a disease that affects rhens mom. its the main motivation for her to enter the competition, but its not really resolved. other than discovering the origins of the disease, its seems like an abandoned idea towards the end. a bit odd. so while there are a lot of really great individual elements to the story, it missed the mark by not developing into the fully cohesive story it could have been. ↠ 3 stars

  5. 5 out of 5

    C.G. Drews

    If you thought getting into university was stressful, w o a h, take a step back and read this book. This is basically a maze competition where the winner gets a scholarship and PTSD. #Kind And I really enjoyed myself with this one! The author is so lovely on instagram and has reached out and said kind things to me during my debut year (writing is hard, folks) so I was super excited to read my first book from her. It definitely didn't disappoint! ➸ it's a very apt discussion of today's world too L If you thought getting into university was stressful, w o a h, take a step back and read this book. This is basically a maze competition where the winner gets a scholarship and PTSD. #Kind And I really enjoyed myself with this one! The author is so lovely on instagram and has reached out and said kind things to me during my debut year (writing is hard, folks) so I was super excited to read my first book from her. It definitely didn't disappoint! ➸ it's a very apt discussion of today's world too Like coming from an angle where they live in a world of magic and ballgowns and ghouls. The society in this book has a very early 1900s vibe and it was all Males Rule and females can go have babies or whatever. I usually chaff at these story lines, because I'm so tired of sexism, it makes me ill. But this was brilliantly done. It hit us with discussions on what feminism is, how it is valid for girls to want to be in university and want to raise children. How there is no one way to be a "strong female character". How being rich and privileged can poison you if you don't actively take charge of your own thinking. It was really on point for today's world too and I loved this. ➸ Rhen is our STEM girl who is the actual loveliest I'm just sitting here feeling so full and warm with the fact that it featured two main girls: Rhen, who is into science and cutting up corpses and will instantly hack off her hair to fake being a boy for a chance at a better education. And also Seleni, who is soft and a little giddy about her boy crushes and is intelligent and forthright and takes risks and loves frills. It was so so nice omg thank you for girls who are badass and don't scorn femininity as well. Also their friendship was LIFE. They're cousins and so there for each other. 10/10 for epic female friendships. ➸ so let's talk about the boys we need to best We get basically two camps: (1) the rich privileged snobs who are utter assholes and treat women like property, and (2) the soft and gruff boys who are full of respect and hope. I would be totally ok if Vincent and Germaine and Co all fell into the sea and got eaten by sirens. Lute and Beryll were adorable. I also loved that Beryll was the toffy stuck up boy...but learned and listened and checked his privilege. And Lute was just a SWEET FISHERMAN BOY. He has a disabled little brother too (and the disability rep was not ablest at all afajsdklafd I'm so happy) and their relationship is here to make your heart do all sorts of floppy happy things. ➸ now for university scholarships and ptsd It honestly gave me Caraval vibes! We have this rich old man who runs a contest every year to award scholarships. Only boys can enter, which is why Rhen and Seleni fake being boys to get in. The contest only takes a day and it's not the bulk of the book, but it is the stressful part. They go through a maze and locked rooms and get attacked by monsters and visions. They have to invent things and mix chemical compounds...and avoid getting backstabbed by the other competitors. I loved the magic and wildness of it! Also 10/10 to the fact that all the relationships were set up already, so we didn't have any mad 1-day romances forming. It was actually REALLY light on the romance too. But it was sweet! And I found the costumes-as-being-boys realistic because everyone was fighting for their life in the maze, so you wouldn't exactly be peering at everyone else. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ➸The writing was so easy to be absorbed in! I just found myself flying through dozens of pages and losing time...which I looove while reading. The world felt easy to absorb and Rhen's voice was dynamic and winning. I loved her and when you love the characters, it's for the book to take up firm residence in your heart. this is definitely a story of feminism and love, and it deals with the fear of girls striking out in places they've been told to stay away from, but how one girl can truly cut a path for more. It's equal parts sweet with the family bonds and friendship...and vicious with the maze and monsters. And that cover?! I LOVE that cover.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ivana - Diary of Difference

    Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest I love Mary Weber as much as her food recipes she shares with us every single month! I don’t usually decide whether to read a certain book by its cover, but this cover made me want to find out more about it. When I read the synopsis, I had to read it, as it captures women fighting for their rights in a young-adult format, and it simply was something I couldn’t miss. I will be honest with you and say that this book didn’t deliver. Maybe it was my Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest I love Mary Weber as much as her food recipes she shares with us every single month! I don’t usually decide whether to read a certain book by its cover, but this cover made me want to find out more about it. When I read the synopsis, I had to read it, as it captures women fighting for their rights in a young-adult format, and it simply was something I couldn’t miss. I will be honest with you and say that this book didn’t deliver. Maybe it was my expectations, after all, that got me too excited for my own good. Let’s start with Rhen. She is a girl that loves science, and her father has taught her everything he knows. They are poor family and don’t have all the equipment in the world, but that doesn’t stop them to keep discovering and learning every day. In their kingdom, an unknown disease comes around, and Rhen’s mum is ill, with no cure yet. Rhen wants desperately to find a cure, and a rich boy wanting to marry her might promise her all the equipment she needs, but now it’s time that she lacks. When the men’s annual tournament is about to begin, with boys fighting for the science scholarship, Rhen knows that she has no choice but to enter, disguised as a boy, and try to win this – for her, for her dad, and most importantly, for her mum. The book flows really slowly. We get to about half of the book when Rhen decides to enter the tournament. I expected this to happen in the first couple of chapters, and to then have the adventure from within the labyrinth. For me, it was quite a slow beginning, but some of you might enjoy that. The writing is beautiful throughout. I loved the fighter within Rhen. She is a fierce person, determined to fight for what she wants. Even though throughout the book she has trouble with realising what is it that she really wants, we can see a bit of character development in her. As a book that is supposed to cover gender equality, and women fighting for the same rights as men, this book didn’t really deliver. The letter states that every gentleperson – not gentleman. Which means, that inequality never truly exists at all. Women could have entered this competition, but they just chose not to. The whole competition, the labyrinth and the scholarship lacks details and has enormous loopholes: one scholarship is given to one person – the one that wins the labyrinth. And after the winner is chosen, we have a scene where they all take a test, including the winner? The disguise was a huge and important part of this book, as Rhen and her friend are pretending to be boys. Rhen cuts her hair, and her friend just pins it and ties it with a hat. They both wear boy clothes and barely remember to lower their voices. And that is all they do to not get recognised. And somehow, the people that know them their whole life fail to recognise them. A bit unbelievable… I wish I loved this book, because I truly fell in love with the cover and the synopsis. But the whole labyrinth set-up seemed to be a side-story, with the illness being the main story, and the realisation of what Rhen actually wants to achieve. Random characters were introduced, that didn’t drive the story one bit, and the author also happened to throw in an inconsistent romance and a love triangle. I hate to say this, but the book seems like an unfinished draft. It seemed so promising, and all I thought I would get out of this was non-existent. I am not sure if I would want to recommend this book to you guys. If you want to give it a try, I encourage you, and would love to talk about it and hear what you think, but if you are here because you loved the synopsis, this book will probably not satisfy you. Thank you to Thomas Nelson and Netgalley, for giving me a complimentary ARC e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nadine Brandes

    I. NEED. THIS. NOW.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    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 al 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. For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/

  9. 4 out of 5

    Katie.dorny

    This was okay but it didn’t blow me away the way I expected it to. My first big disappointment of 2019. I did enjoy the characters of Rhen, her Da, Seleni and Lute. And I did the hate the characters I was supposed to, but it just didn’t pack a knockout blow. It reminded me slightly of Caraval, actually a LOT of Caraval. It just seemed to have a slight feminist twist on it. I did also enjoy the romance, but it was just so obvious that it didn’t overly affect me either way. This was good, but with a This was okay but it didn’t blow me away the way I expected it to. My first big disappointment of 2019. I did enjoy the characters of Rhen, her Da, Seleni and Lute. And I did the hate the characters I was supposed to, but it just didn’t pack a knockout blow. It reminded me slightly of Caraval, actually a LOT of Caraval. It just seemed to have a slight feminist twist on it. I did also enjoy the romance, but it was just so obvious that it didn’t overly affect me either way. This was good, but with a lot of these type of books coming out in the wake of magical realism’s popularity it didn’t transport me the way I wanted.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nicki Chapelway

    Kind of was expecting a cliffhanger because, well, this is Mary Weber after all. I guess this was a standalone, which is somewhat disappointing because I would have loved to have spent more time in this world. Rhen, Seleni, Lute, Beryll, Sam and Eric <3 <3 <3 <3 I loved these crazy kids more than I can say. And I am so appreciative of this portrayal of strong females. They don't all have to kick bums or sass every nearby males. They can take care of their family and have different drea Kind of was expecting a cliffhanger because, well, this is Mary Weber after all. I guess this was a standalone, which is somewhat disappointing because I would have loved to have spent more time in this world. Rhen, Seleni, Lute, Beryll, Sam and Eric <3 <3 <3 <3 I loved these crazy kids more than I can say. And I am so appreciative of this portrayal of strong females. They don't all have to kick bums or sass every nearby males. They can take care of their family and have different dreams. Whether it be to get a higher education or start a family. And I love how this books showed that these dreams are equally important. And also the labyrinth. Meep. Needless to say, I loved it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    m a r y l i z

    Well then. I didn't hate it, but that's the most glowing praise you'll get out of me. Two stars feels slightly harsh, but three stars feels too generous . . . *scratches head* Times like these make me wish Goodreads had half stars, but c'est la vie. L I K ES: -The cover. The way the letters loop around the maze and the gorgeous greenery everywhere?? Yeah. I'm digging that cover. -A YA BOOK WITH SUPPORTIVE PARENTS. Ladies and gentleman, you heard that correctly. This is indeed a rare specimen. It's n Well then. I didn't hate it, but that's the most glowing praise you'll get out of me. Two stars feels slightly harsh, but three stars feels too generous . . . *scratches head* Times like these make me wish Goodreads had half stars, but c'est la vie. L I K ES: -The cover. The way the letters loop around the maze and the gorgeous greenery everywhere?? Yeah. I'm digging that cover. -A YA BOOK WITH SUPPORTIVE PARENTS. Ladies and gentleman, you heard that correctly. This is indeed a rare specimen. It's not often I read YA books with parents, much less supportive and loving ones with whom the protagonist shares a close relationship. This was one of my favorite parts of the book. Rhen's parents never stop encouraging her to pursue her dreams and challenge the status quo. I especially loved her Da, who Rhen worked with in their in-home laboratory. Alllllll the kudos to the author for wonderful parental relationships. -The whole science/uni focus. I'm not a science girl--like, at all--but I really appreciated seeing a character who loved science and was education-focused. We need more stories with girls (and guys) who actually want to get a higher education and love learning. -Seleni. She was probably my favorite character in this book. To be honest, I feel kind of "meh" about the characters in this book as a whole. However, I loved that Seleni unashamedly loved her long hair and fancy dresses and wanted a family of her own . . . but she wasn't afraid to get her hands dirty and fight for what she believed in. She was a strong female character who was still feminine. I really appreciated that Mary showed there's more than "one type" of strong female character. WE SUPPORT. D I S L I K E S: -The writing style. Ehhhhhhhhhhhh. I really disliked the writing style in Storm Stiren, so I didn't expect it to be different here. Her writing style is pretty clunky and awkward. Sometimes I have to reread sentences for them to make sense. Most of the writing consists of run-ons, sentences with an excessive amount of prepositional phrases, or cliche/boring descriptions. I don't know. I'm not trying to be critical, but her writing just isn't My Thing. It feels very unpolished and awkward. (Plus, I came across several grammatical and syntactical errors. I know it's impossible to avoid, but it was more frequent than I would have liked.) -The setting. Mary Weber does an . . . interesting job at worldbuilding. Her worlds always feel so random and unnecessarily weird. I never got a good sense for what the world was like other than the fact that it had a lot of dead bodies/ghouls/creepy sirens. IT WAS WEIRD, GUYS. I just felt really weirded out by the setting. It didn't seem like she really thought through her worldbuilding that well. She just came up with a bunch of odd creatures and dumped them in a random setting. #notafan -The labyrinth. Speaking of weird . . . *cough* The labyrinth was really bizarre. Reading about it was such a disorienting, unsettling sensation. It wasn't actually a maze but a bunch of mind-games and anticlimactic tests. This whole book felt like a wild, trippy experience & the labyrinth just emphasized how W E I RD the whole setting was. To be clear, I don't mind weird things; there just has to be a method to the madness. In the case of To Best the Boys, there were no rules to the world. It was all very undefined. I never really understood what the world was supposed to look and feel like. It just left me confused and Very Disturbed. -aLl ThE dEaD boDiEs. NO THANK YOU. The first chapter should have been a warning to me. I honestly felt sickened by all the corpses, blood, and nasty dead things that were described in length. It felt superfluous. Like yeah, I get it - Rhen does a lot of experiments. But her interest in dead things borders on morbid. I got a really "icky" feeling. and legitimately almost stopped reading because of the excessive discussion of bodily fluids, exploding corpses, etc. Not to mention, she actually flirts with people by talking about corpses. I don't know whether to laugh, cringe, or gag . . . -The romance. It felt so awkward but not in a cute way. Rhen kept thinking about Lute's pursed, anatomically perfect lips (gross) and the kiss scenes made me put the book down. I don't know why, but the romance between them made me Uncomfy. It had a good amount of teenage angst, and I'm not here for that. -Everything was just "meh." The dialogue felt forced, the writing was awkward, the setting was odd, the characters (mostly) felt bland, the plot didn't get underway until halfway in the book, etc. I feel rather "meh" about the whole book. I didn't hate it, but the only feelings it really generated in me were confusion & boredom & disgust. Nothing wowed me; it's just overall forgettable. Like I said, it wasn't the worst book ever. It was just kind of a waste of time. I highly doubt I'll be reading more of Mary Weber's books in the future because, sadly, she just isn't for me. :) 2.5 stars

  12. 4 out of 5

    Maya

    I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Got to say that I'm pleasantly surprised by this book. It was quite good actually and I really liked the heroine, Rhen and the whole concept of the story. When I first read the blurb my first though was that the story was going to be something similar to The Hunger Games and there was some resemblance to it, with the game and the oppression, but not as much a I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Got to say that I'm pleasantly surprised by this book. It was quite good actually and I really liked the heroine, Rhen and the whole concept of the story. When I first read the blurb my first though was that the story was going to be something similar to The Hunger Games and there was some resemblance to it, with the game and the oppression, but not as much as I thought it would be. In the end that was a huge plus, since otherwise I think the plot would be a bit boring to read. Aside from that the plot is much more focused on Rhen, her mother's sickness and how to find a cure to save her. In the end the only hope for Rhen to save her mother is by breaking tradition and entering a game to win a scholarship that would later on give her the means to create said cure. The romance aspect of the story was all right, but to me it didn't feel like it was the center of the story. Which made the story better for me, as a reader. Lute was a cute character and I really grew to like him, sadly I can't say the same for Vincent. Now, he was just a terrible boy and he deserved everything that came his way. Beside those two I also was quite fond of Rhen's counsin, Seleni and Mr. Holm. To me, Seleni felt like Rhen's other half. Both go though thick and thin together, no matter the consequences. I really loved that. They were more like real sisters than cousins. And as for Mr. Holm, let's just say that there is more to this character than meets the eye. This character brings all the elements of magic with him. Last but not least, is my favourite character and that obviously has to be Rhen. She was such a strong yet gentle character that one couldn't help but fall in love with. Her mind preceded her time and it was so great to see a girl in those times breaking the norm. She stood up for herself and her loved ones and if she had to break a few rules, so be it. You could say she was the black sheep of the society and she was at the same time also, at least for me, the beginning of a new era where woman's rights would exist and be heard. All in all, this is a great story with strong characters and a great plot. It's also a quick read, so why not give it a chance...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lilian

    WOWWWWWW. WHAT?? *mindblown* Review @ the blog! -- 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 WOWWWWWW. WHAT?? *mindblown* Review @ the blog! -- 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. alsothefacthatthecharactersarenamedafter elements on the periodic table???!!! oh my wowww that's incredible. 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. 🙂

  14. 5 out of 5

    Anja H.

    *2.25 DISAPPOINTED STARS* “You take this world and make it what it should be." I hate to say this, but I’m feeling incredibly underwhelmed right now. The premise really spoke to me. You know, girl power and all that. I was pretty sure this was going to be one of my favorite reads this year, as the Labyrinth/maze-type setting reminded me of The Hunger Games or Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I did love Rhen. She was fierce and smart. I also really loved Lute and Seleni and Beryll and pretty mu *2.25 DISAPPOINTED STARS* “You take this world and make it what it should be." I hate to say this, but I’m feeling incredibly underwhelmed right now. The premise really spoke to me. You know, girl power and all that. I was pretty sure this was going to be one of my favorite reads this year, as the Labyrinth/maze-type setting reminded me of The Hunger Games or Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I did love Rhen. She was fierce and smart. I also really loved Lute and Seleni and Beryll and pretty much all of the secondary characters. However, the actual Labyrinth portion only came into play about 55% in, and I expected way more action and suspense, and all of it completely left me hanging.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Maddy

    Oh my goodness, THIS BOOK. I had high expectations for this story and it completely lived up to them. This book is literally amazing and definitely one of the best books I’ve ever read. Yep, it was that good. To Best the Boys follows a character named Rhen. Wanting to be able to get a higher education, she disguises herself as a boy and enters an all male contest in a maze, hoping that she’ll win the scholarship. If that’s not the coolest story line I don’t know what is. ;) The first 100+ pages Oh my goodness, THIS BOOK. I had high expectations for this story and it completely lived up to them. This book is literally amazing and definitely one of the best books I’ve ever read. Yep, it was that good. To Best the Boys follows a character named Rhen. Wanting to be able to get a higher education, she disguises herself as a boy and enters an all male contest in a maze, hoping that she’ll win the scholarship. If that’s not the coolest story line I don’t know what is. ;) The first 100+ pages are on the day before the maze, and while I loved that part and thought it was interesting, I was ready for them to get in the maze. XD That’s the only part that I wouldn’t mind if it got changed some, but the rest was literally perfect. Once they got to the maze though, WOW. It was just so good. Rhen and her cousin ( who also disguised herself and went in the maze ) ended up with a group with guys they knew. Some from lower levels of society and some from higher. I thought the group that the book focuses on in the maze was perfect because you have the lower and higher society guys ( some who are at odds with each other ) and then Rhen and her cousin. All the guys in the group that the girls end up in are guys they know / hang out with, but the boys have no idea it’s the two girls. The maze was really cool with how it was done, and then having the group of friends / enemies + the disguised girls made it so interesting. I loved this book so much and read it every chance I got. It’s full of twists and turns and leaves you in suspense until the very end. It was just so amazing and I loved every second of it! *I received a free copy of this book in exchange of my honest review. All thought are my own.*

  16. 5 out of 5

    Inge

    To Best the Boys has one of the most exciting premises I've seen this year - it promises a strong female character who's more than savvy in the science department, a thrilling competition, and perhaps a lesson on two on feminism. The strong female character? She's totally there. Rhen Tellur is smart, headstrong, and very easy to root for. Her best friend, Seleni, is softer, and the perfect example of how female characters don't need to be able to wield knives to be considered badass. The thrilling To Best the Boys has one of the most exciting premises I've seen this year - it promises a strong female character who's more than savvy in the science department, a thrilling competition, and perhaps a lesson on two on feminism. The strong female character? She's totally there. Rhen Tellur is smart, headstrong, and very easy to root for. Her best friend, Seleni, is softer, and the perfect example of how female characters don't need to be able to wield knives to be considered badass. The thrilling competition? Not so much. I was expecting the Labyrinth to come into play much sooner, but it only came about around the 60% mark, so the book really tested my patience there. We did learn a lot about Rhen's motives, but still, meh. Once it did, it still didn't provide the entertainment I was looking for. There's also absolutely no reason why Rhen would need to pretend to be a boy? The invitation to the Labyrinth says "gentlepersons", not "gentlemen", so there's literally nothing that forbids girls from entering. I give bonus points for some of the characters, but overall, this was kind of underwhelming. Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for providing me with a copy

  17. 4 out of 5

    Arielle ⭐ Cursebreaker ⭐

    Happy book birthday, To Best the Boys! Go check this one out, guys. It's definitely worth the read! 4.5 What do you want? I want my mum to live. I want the right to earn an education. I want to be the first female scientist. I want to create my own happiness. I want . . . Okay this was a really interestingly good book. Like I almost don’t even know how to begin this review???? This is another case of me starting an ARC, being interrupted and reading a million other books, and then finally finishing it. Happy book birthday, To Best the Boys! Go check this one out, guys. It's definitely worth the read! 4.5 What do you want? I want my mum to live. I want the right to earn an education. I want to be the first female scientist. I want to create my own happiness. I want . . . Okay this was a really interestingly good book. Like I almost don’t even know how to begin this review???? This is another case of me starting an ARC, being interrupted and reading a million other books, and then finally finishing it. Luckily, I finished the last 52% today all in one sitting so it’s still really resonating with me at this moment. I think the biggest thing that stuck out to me was the writing. Weber is a new-to-me author so I really had had no idea what to expect. Sometimes though, you can tell right away whether or not you are going to like an author’s writing or not. With this book, I literally was entranced within the first paragraph. I can’t really put my finger on what it is about it but I can tell you right now that it was quality writing. I’m actually really happy I immediately thought of the word entranced to describe it. I think the same can be said about the actual story, too. Like…..it was just so unique. There were times throughout the book where I found myself very interested in this world that Weber created because it all could feel very foreign at certain points but never in a way that made me feel disconnected. At times the language that was used and customs that were mentioned seemed to be a nod at almost a medieval, old fairy tale kind of place??? They all referred to each other and Miss and Mr and women were expected to just become mothers and wives but then Rhen and her father also worked on vaccines and she experimented on rats and dead bodies and there was a king and also an eccentric old man who no one had ever seen but hosted a game within a labyrinth and all these other things that kind of didn’t make sense together but also weirdly meshed and made sense and the same time. That was an incredibly long and convoluted sentence but that’s also how I felt reading this at times lol. BUT NOT IN A BAD WAY! That’s why it’s so hard to explain! So basically I’m just going to stop trying so that you can pick this book up for yourself and be sucked into this new world and be entranced yourselves! I will say this, though. I LOVED the characters. Rhen was so amazing and was a genius (while also having dyslexia and never letting it slow her down). She never tried to be anything other than who she was or tried to pretend like her interests (medicine and science and dead bodies) were any different to impress ANYONE. In fact, I loved that when she was truly happy she seemed to word vomit facts about the human body and it made me laugh and love her a little more every single time. Seleni and Beryll, too, were interesting and well fleshed out and I LOVED how Seleni always supported her cousin to the very end. And Lute. OH LUTE. BBF. Like from the very first time he was mentioned I knew I was going to love him and he never let me or Rhen down. Ugh what a dream boat. This, overall, is just purely a tale that warmed my freakin heart. I loved every single bit of Rhen and what she achieved over the course of this book (just all sorts of women empowerment in general). I loved that she didn’t have to sacrifice any bit of her happiness at the end, either. I was worried she might have to for a hot second. I also loved that note from Weber at the end explaining that certain characters were representative of people in her own life (Rhen having dyslexia and Lute’s brother who seemed to be on the autism spectrum). So while those things might seem different to other people who have dyslexia or know people with Down syndrome and autism, these specific characters and traits came from the people she knew and loved. I had an uncle with Down syndrome and he lived with my parents and me for the last four years of his life when I was in high school and community college. You don’t know what it’s like to be a caregiver to someone with those special needs unless you actually are one. Even with his challenges and specific quirks, I LOVED having him with us because it meant that I now have a better understanding and love for people with Down syndrome. I loved him more than almost anyone in my entire life so knowing Lute acted as caretaker for his mother and brother like that made me love him so much more than I already did. Gotta wrap things up before this gets too crazy long but I also kind of liked that this was a standalone? Or is it??? Seems like it is. I haven’t read a great fantasy standalone in who knows how long but everything was tied up perfectly in my opinion. I very much recommend! “You take this world and make it what it should be. And don’t let the beliefs of a backward system define you. You are the one who has to live with the future, baby girl. So you live it. You understand?” I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. ♥ For more of my reviews, please visit:

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mellie Antoinette

    “To Dissenters: No one likes a sore pouter-so stay home.” I probably would have categorized this as a MG retelling of all your favorite YA fandoms, because this was ADORABLE!! It was cute, approachable and had happier moments reminiscent of: ✅ Alice and Wonderland ✅ The Hunger Games ✅ Caraval ✅ Audrey Rose Wadsworth ✅ The Maze Runner. “My Labyrinth was you. Your mind. Your heart. Your trust.” Super enjoyable!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tracey Dyck

    AHHHH! I'm so, so glad this book lived up to--and surpassed--all the hype that surged at the time of its release. Like many of my friends who've read To Best the Boys, I was somewhat concerned that it'd be a heavy-handed feministic sermon. But it turned out to be the best novel dealing with feminism that I've ever read! And that's partially because that wasn't the sole POINT of the story. But let me get back to the beginning. WHAT I LOVED -I. LOVE. RHEN. She's super relatable, even if I don't prefe AHHHH! I'm so, so glad this book lived up to--and surpassed--all the hype that surged at the time of its release. Like many of my friends who've read To Best the Boys, I was somewhat concerned that it'd be a heavy-handed feministic sermon. But it turned out to be the best novel dealing with feminism that I've ever read! And that's partially because that wasn't the sole POINT of the story. But let me get back to the beginning. WHAT I LOVED -I. LOVE. RHEN. She's super relatable, even if I don't prefer to handle corpses like she does, LOL. But it's her heart and logic and occasional awkwardness that made some moments feel like looking into a mirror. -Lute! *swoons* He's both strong and sweet, and he treats people like his mother, special-needs brother, and Rhen with the utmost respect. -Seleni was warmhearted and spunky and the perfect balance of "traditional" femininity alongside Rhen's more academic desires. There's one moment in particular where Seleni really shines, and I could've just hugged her. -Scenes with Rhen's mum nearly made me cry. -I adored the light fantasy setting--which seemed like Jane Austen meets The Scorpio Races with a dash of science thrown in. And the whole Labryinth concept reminded me of The Maze Runner and even a bit of The Hunger Games. Very cool. -The book was so quotable! Can I just hang entire pages all over my room? -Such heartfelt, tastefully written themes. As I mentioned before, this book does deal with feminism. Rhen enters the Labryinth contest to try to earn a scholarship to a prestigious, all-boys university, which is something most people in her world frown upon. But Mary Weber presented the matter SO well. She paints a true-to-life picture of the many stripes of femininity: those who want to pursue a career, those who want to build a family... those who tear other girls down, and those who support each other with incredible strength. AND she does the same for the male cast. We see small-minded men, men who view women as objects, etc., but we also see good men. (Some of those good men get the chance to punch the puny boys in the face. YESSSS.) -And while we're on the subject, can we just take a minute to give Mary Weber a standing ovation? She's now written about self-harm (Storm Siren trilogy), human trafficking (the Shilo Snow duology), and the kind of feminism I can totally get behind. She's a powerhouse. WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE -Virtually... nothing? A few turns of phrase might've felt a little clunky, but I gobbled up this book within twenty-four hours, so obviously it didn't slow me down. :) -The fact that Rhen and Seleni disguise themselves as boys and aren't recognized did push the suspension of disbelief a teensy little bit. Not for terribly long, though. *** "I'm just tired of feeling like the way things are is the only way they can ever be." To Best the Boys is one of my favorite reads this year. And it's definitely my favorite Mary Weber book so far. <3 5 stars! P.S. Was it just me, or did the occasional use of "hulls" seem like a nod to Storm Siren??? Is it possible it takes place in the same world?

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tana △⃒⃘ ⚯͛ Cozyreadings

    19/04/2019 O.W.L. Readathon 2019 ✔Herbology: Plant on the cover First of all: this book takes Nevernight's spot for best opening sentence. So macabre, but I can't help but love it. The problem with siphoning blood from a bloated cadaver is that sometimes it's belly makes an involuntary twitch just as you're leaning over the discolored skin. The problem with being the girl currently stealing the sticky blood is that while logic says there's an explanation for such phenomena, the rest of me says it 19/04/2019 O.W.L. Readathon 2019 ✔️Herbology: Plant on the cover First of all: this book takes Nevernight's spot for best opening sentence. So macabre, but I can't help but love it. The problem with siphoning blood from a bloated cadaver is that sometimes it's belly makes an involuntary twitch just as you're leaning over the discolored skin. The problem with being the girl currently stealing the sticky blood is that while logic says there's an explanation for such phenomena, the rest of me says it must be one of two things. Either the good king's clerics are out somewhere trying to raise the dead again.... Or I've just discovered the town's first certifiable vampyre right here in the cloying cellar of the local undertaker. After reading that first chapter, I was sold We meet Rhen, a young female lower-class teenage scientist in a world where women don't study or are considered smart. She knows what she wants, and has a great friendship with her Upper-class niece Seleni. There's a plague roaming around in the lower-class district that is paralyzing the people, and Rhen and her father are trying to find a cure seeing how her mum has the sickness too. Rhen decides to take part in the "Labyrinth" contest that is held every year. The person that wins, get's a scholarship to the university. Small problem: while it isn't strictly forbidden to compete as a woman, no one has ever done it and it's considered to be an all boys competition. solution: Rhen and Seleni join the compitition dressed as boys, to "Best" the other boys The Good: - honestly almost everything in this book. The fact that ghouls and siren's exist make this a very interesting universe to read in. - Rhen and Seleni know what they want and don't look down on eachother for wanting completely different things. Very nice and refreshing to see that the MC didn't look down upon her friend because she strives to become a wive and mother. - (view spoiler)[I liked that in the end the romance wasn't seen as this perfectly complete thing: Lute and Rhen both realize that it will be hard. Him being at sea and her being at university. How I saw it: the book ended with a "we shall see, and what happens happens". Loved that. (hide spoiler)] The (not really) Bad - I thought the romance was a tad bit unnecessary in the beginning: finding a cure, worrying about her mother and trying not to die in a competition seemed like enough to handle in the beginning. - (view spoiler)[ I didn't reaaaally love the twist that Vincent was the one who created the disease. Looking back I realize that there were a lot of hints that he was the person that created the plague, but it was an accident that he just didn't own up to. The guy was a dick in general, but idunno. Didn't like it that much (hide spoiler)] - It takes almost half of the book before the compitition actually starts. For a book that is all about this famous labyrinth, a lot of time is spend outside it. conclusion: if more people could please read this book, that would be great.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Erin O'Connor {If The Review Fits}

    Guys, I'm so excited to finally write this review! This was a book that I received from NetGalley, and it got voted to be read as one of my group's (Anyone Else?) buddy reads for May, so I was able to actually make time to read it and I'm not sorry! I fell in love with this book by chapter 1, I hope to one day be in the medical field and the main character in this book (a female) was! And especially in the time this book hailed in. I really enjoyed reading this book, one because of all the medic Guys, I'm so excited to finally write this review! This was a book that I received from NetGalley, and it got voted to be read as one of my group's (Anyone Else?) buddy reads for May, so I was able to actually make time to read it and I'm not sorry! I fell in love with this book by chapter 1, I hope to one day be in the medical field and the main character in this book (a female) was! And especially in the time this book hailed in. I really enjoyed reading this book, one because of all the medical insights, two because I didn't have to skip through pages to get past inappropriate things. I have read so many books this year that utterly disgusted me, so this was a good read! Three, this book kept me wanting to see what happens next. It kept me laughing or upset, very moving. 😂 The Plot 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. My Idea of the Main Character At first, I wasn't sure how I would like Rhen Tellur. I figured she would be the stereotype female protagonist. But I was wrong, I can relate to her a lot. She wasn't all "I don't need a man" but she was still independent in some ways. Her character development inspired me. I loved how close she was to her best friend Seleni Lake. It reminds me of my own friendship with my sister's and best friend. I liked how she was able to stand up to the man whom had just asked to court her, and she was seriously thinking about it, but then realized that he was only pursuing her for her brilliant mind to be able to further his own selfish career and goals. Now you know I don't like him, ha! I liked how even though a lot of people thought of her as strange or different and she actually heard them saying bad things about her, she still kept her head up and did what she needed to do. What I Did Not Like Alright, first things first... The title of this book. The title makes it seem like some kind of feminist movement book, when I'm actuality it's just a story of a girl who does things differently and is smarter than most boys around her. I did not like it that the group of "young men" always talked about having a girl to do "things" with! Even though they never came out and said anything, it still wasn't right. I know that in those times, most young men were very honorable. Though I am sure there were others who weren't, too. But still! I don't know, the whole thing about girls dressing as men just doesn't sit well with me. I know, the whole book is pretty much about all that, I'm just stating my opinion. I still really enjoyed the book. ☺ Romance Yay, my favorite part, hah! 😂 Anyways, the development of Rhen and Lutes relationship was beautiful! I love how he is a fisherman who loves the sea and then compared her to it saying she too was "un-tameable". I also really enjoyed Seleni and Beryll's relationship too! It was just too sweet. 😍💕😭☺❤ Okay, so I know this isn't exactly a "good" review, but I did my best. I would recommend this book to anyone who liked these sort of reads. But, I advise it for an older person. Being there is some political things and adult-ish stuff. Not for anyone younger than 16.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rosalie

    A solid 4.5 stars! This book is not a man-shaming feminist manifesto as some (perhaps even myself *cough cough*) feared it would be despite Mary Weber's repeated statements that it in no way tears men down. Turns out she was /right/ when said that it builds up both genders and is a fun, atmospheric, (at times) weird story. Funny how that works out. AHEM. I think it's well worth reading if you're into fantasy, girl power that doesn't come at the expense of guy power, creepy ghouls and sea sirens, fun A solid 4.5 stars! This book is not a man-shaming feminist manifesto as some (perhaps even myself *cough cough*) feared it would be despite Mary Weber's repeated statements that it in no way tears men down. Turns out she was /right/ when said that it builds up both genders and is a fun, atmospheric, (at times) weird story. Funny how that works out. AHEM. I think it's well worth reading if you're into fantasy, girl power that doesn't come at the expense of guy power, creepy ghouls and sea sirens, fun and healthy romance that isn't center stage, weird science stuff, and challenging the status quo for all the right reasons. 😎😎😎

  23. 5 out of 5

    Raquel Flockhart

    “It’s not that I don’t belong. It’s that I belong to me.”I’ve been interested in To Best the Boys since I read the synopsis. A mysterious labyrinth and a scientist girl wanting to best the boys in a competition? It sounded like my cup of tea. Unfortunately, it wasn’t what I was expecting. Rhen Tellur is a teenager who dreams about becoming a scientist in a fantasy setting where only boys get a chance to go to the university. When she receives the annual letter inviting boys to compete for a scho “It’s not that I don’t belong. It’s that I belong to me.”I’ve been interested in To Best the Boys since I read the synopsis. A mysterious labyrinth and a scientist girl wanting to best the boys in a competition? It sounded like my cup of tea. Unfortunately, it wasn’t what I was expecting. Rhen Tellur is a teenager who dreams about becoming a scientist in a fantasy setting where only boys get a chance to go to the university. When she receives the annual letter inviting boys to compete for a scholarship to the university in Mr. Holm’s labyrinth, she sees an opportunity to prove herself and to get the resources in order to find a cure for her mother’s disease. The premise got my attention from the first moment. The thing is that, to my great disappointment, only one half of the book takes place in the labyrinth. I was expecting that the main plot of the book revolved around the competition, but I think that it focuses more in the disease that is taking place in Pinsbury Port. Furthermore, I felt that the labyrinth plot was too rushed and although I liked some aspects of it, I was disappointed by the majority of it. I saw one of the supposed plot-twists coming from the beginning, but I really liked the other revelation—that one actually took me by surprise. I also liked the portrayal of the different social classes, the feminist aspects and the fact that the main character has dyslexia and that Ben has autism and Down syndrome. The inclusion of the latter made me especially happy for personal reasons, but I didn’t like the description (he’s described as a five-year-old in a fourteen-year-old body), although I understand that such portrait is based on a family member of the author and also a friend of hers. I think it was about time to include characters with Down syndrome in fiction, but I wouldn’t have noticed that Ben has Down syndrome if it wasn’t for the author’s note at the end. Overall, To Best the Boys was just an okay read for me. It has some of the typical ingredients in YA fantasy such as teen romance, but it also focuses on family, feminism and there is autism, dyslexia and Down syndrome representation. The plot has a couple of enjoyable aspects, but the main points were very predictable and even boring. “And don’t let the beliefs of a backward system define you. You are the one who has to live with the future, baby girl. So you live it.” P.S.: English isn’t my native language, so I apologise if you see any mistakes.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    This book was absolutely amazing, and I loved every minute of it. This book has come the closest to matching the feel/tone of one of my all-time favorites--The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. Fans of that masterpiece and Mary Weber's previous work should adore this book. Some highlights: - Girl Power (without being ragingly feminist). While the story did feature platonic and romantic relationships, the heart of the story was the message that it's okay just to be you. Not someone's friend, girl This book was absolutely amazing, and I loved every minute of it. This book has come the closest to matching the feel/tone of one of my all-time favorites--The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. Fans of that masterpiece and Mary Weber's previous work should adore this book. Some highlights: - Girl Power (without being ragingly feminist). While the story did feature platonic and romantic relationships, the heart of the story was the message that it's okay just to be you. Not someone's friend, girlfriend, daughter, etc, but just be you for you. - Atmospheric writing with all sorts of creepy beasties. I like a good spine-tingling story with all sorts of mythological monsters--so long as it doesn't get too gory, of course. This one fits the bill. - Ocean imagery/setting--this will get me every time. The ocean is hugely important to me, with both my personal life and writing, so I love to see it represented in books, both literally and allegorically. Lowlights: - Wasn't long enough. Seriously, I would love to read a whole series set in this world. I wanted so much more of Pinsbury Port, and the surrounding country, and setting, and people. Can we pretty please make this a series? 5 stars. Ages 14 and up (Some violence, non-graphic, and allusions against women's honor. Some frightening scenes of peril, and one off-page death.) For more reviews, follow my blog at gabriellenblog.wordpress.com Many thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy to review!

  25. 4 out of 5

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    ♡ four out of five ♡ ★★★★☆ wow, i was not expecting to love this as much as i do. i had absolutely no issues with this novel whatsoever, and i found it to be completely charming and such a fun read! i fell in love with rhen - our main character - and her feistiness and desire to learn and prove herself. she was so smart and cunning; she really reminded me of audrey rose from 'stalking jack the ripper'! i loved her drive and passion and it was so wonderful to read her story. i also fell in love wit ♡ four out of five ♡ ★★★★☆ wow, i was not expecting to love this as much as i do. i had absolutely no issues with this novel whatsoever, and i found it to be completely charming and such a fun read! i fell in love with rhen - our main character - and her feistiness and desire to learn and prove herself. she was so smart and cunning; she really reminded me of audrey rose from 'stalking jack the ripper'! i loved her drive and passion and it was so wonderful to read her story. i also fell in love with lute - the lovely love interest - and his kindness and ~mysteriousness~ and just the relationship between him and rhen was *chef's kiss* i absolutely adored it. the plot was also super intriguing?? like, rhen disguised herself as a boy to compete in an annual competition (held only for men) to win a scholarship in efforts to save her mother from the disease infecting the town?? it was phenomenally written and executed and i'm honestly surprised that i haven't seen many people talk about this?? it was a perfect standalone and i'm so glad i gave it a shot. definitely a newfound favorite!!!!

  26. 4 out of 5

    R.F. Gammon

    This is a 3.5 star book, but I'm rounding to 4 stars because I can. This is actually my first book by Mary Weber (shameful, right? For shame, Faith!), and so I had no expectations whatsoever going in. I have a lot of friends who like this author, and I thought she was--okay? Pretty good? (Please don't kill me for not instantly jumping on the bandwagon! I need time to think! XD) But anyway...let's review this thing. LIKES: -BERYLL. At first when he started screaming I was like "Is it a banshee or so This is a 3.5 star book, but I'm rounding to 4 stars because I can. This is actually my first book by Mary Weber (shameful, right? For shame, Faith!), and so I had no expectations whatsoever going in. I have a lot of friends who like this author, and I thought she was--okay? Pretty good? (Please don't kill me for not instantly jumping on the bandwagon! I need time to think! XD) But anyway...let's review this thing. LIKES: -BERYLL. At first when he started screaming I was like "Is it a banshee or something?" but no. It's a guy. And Beryll is like the sweetest, yet still hardcore, guy in the world. I loved him SO MUCH. Definitely takes the spot for my favorite character from this book. -Seleni. Yes, I liked Seleni better than Rhen, but only slightly. But the thing is--Seleni is that girl we've all been waiting for. She dresses up like a boy, disguises her voice, and goes into the maze with Rhen--but she didn't cut her hair because she liked her curls and wanted to keep them. She wasn't afraid of getting dirty, but she loved pretty dresses. She wasn't afraid of a dip in the sea, but she knew when was the proper time to do it. She braved the maze, one of the two first women to do so--but she wasn't interested in uni, she just wanted to do the right thing, protect her people, and hopefully end up getting her guy. She had so many dynamics and was so complex and I LOOOOOVED that. -Beryll and Seleni. Because that ship was amazing. Top OTP of this book. -Rhen was pretty cool too. She was dyslexic, per the author's note! And she was a scientist! And I loved that! Her personality started out not that different from most other YA girls, but by the end I was rooting for her and really enjoyed her journey. <3 -HURRAY FOR A YA BOOK WITH TWO PARENTS WHO BOTH LOVE THEIR DAUGHTER AND WHO LOVE EACH OTHER AND ARE JUST GREAT SUPPORTIVE PARENTS! -The descriptions of the sea were really beautiful. -The ending! No spoilers here, but since this is a standalone (I think), some plot threads had to get wrapped up nicely whilst others weren't resolved. And I loved the way that was done in this story. The right stuff was wrapped up, the stuff that didn't need to be stayed hanging, and there were enough questions to make room for a sequel while a sequel is still not REQUIRED. Perfect. LESS LOVES -The maze--I don't know, for some reason it didn't really feel intense enough? At least for me? I feel like I've read similar sequences a thousand times and it was just sort of the same thing all over again. -Personal peeve here, but the whole villain thing, the true culprit of the book? EVERY SINGLE BOOK DOES THIS. And I understand why, but like...is it too much to ask to make the guy who's seemed bad the whole time be the bad guy? Or to NOT have a twist villain? I don't know, it just didn't work for me. -Holm's identity. I wasn't expecting it, but again, I did not particularly appreciate it. -The worldbuilding felt a little...bizarre. I guess that's just what you get for having a world where monsters are the norm, though. :P OVERALL 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4. I enjoyed this! Not as much as I was hoping to, but about as much as I expected to, and it was worth the read. If you like Mary Weber, you're looking for a story of female empowerment, or you want a labyrinth story, pick this one up. :D Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Isabella

    Actual rating: 3.75 (I am the Amy Santiago of ratings)

  28. 5 out of 5

    Amitaf0208

    4 solid stars. It is a YA Fantasy, cross between Handmaid's Tale and Ready Player One. Enjoyed it immensely and loved the main character.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Abigail

    This review is going to be very jumbled up. I will probably not be able to put into proper English my love for this book. Holy cow, this book was amazing!! I was drawn in from the very first page. This book was unlike anything I have ever read before. Sure, it definitely had some Hunger Games feel to it, but it was nothing like it. Everything about this book had my flipping page after page. My sisters were making fun of me due to all the series of noises I was making. I was yelling at characte This review is going to be very jumbled up. I will probably not be able to put into proper English my love for this book. Holy cow, this book was amazing!! I was drawn in from the very first page. This book was unlike anything I have ever read before. Sure, it definitely had some Hunger Games feel to it, but it was nothing like it. Everything about this book had my flipping page after page. My sisters were making fun of me due to all the series of noises I was making. I was yelling at characters, laughing, slightly screaming, wailing, and many many more weird noises. This book was definitely worth the 2 month wait. I cannot tell you how much I loved this book!! I was seriously am amazing book that everyone needs to read. I really hope that this book becomes a best seller and that it becomes super popular and gets up there like the Hunger Games, Maze Runner, and Divergent. It is better than all three of those series though, and yes, I have read all three. There are certain characters that I could rant on and on about how much I love them, and then there are other characters that I despise and wish that they would go die in a hole someones. *glares at Germaine and Vincent* My blood would literally boil at some things that Vincent did. I wanted Lute or some other guy to just throttle the guy multiple times. He annoyed me from the beginning and never ceased to annoy me. Lute on the other hand, was an innocent cinnamon roll that we need to protect with our dear lives. I would have loved to have explored him more but alas I am fully content with what we got of his amazing character. I adored the way that he protected and was so sweet to Rhen. I was awwing a lot. Literally I need a Lute in my life. Beryll was another sweet heart, and even though I didn't like him nearly as much as I did Lute, he still was an amazing character that you do not see in YA fiction at all. He and Seleni were so cute together. Seleni was another amazing character. She, like Beryll, was unlike any YA girl I have read about before. Her personality and everything made me smile, a lot. I really enjoyed getting to know her more. And last but not least, Rhen. Now I loved Rhen. Her personality was such a unique one that we don't see often in YA fiction. Yes, she definitely had girl power but it was for the rigth cause. It also wasn't demolishing to the males in the story either. It was a healthy girl power that I believe girls should have. It wasn't this new feminist craziness, it was a normal girl power that I would LOVE to see more of. Another thing was that the girl power wasn't even that big. It was more of an undertone things rather than the main focus. Um....that's how you do it folks! I really enjoyed how a lot of this was science. Even though I am not a huge science person myself, I did really enjoy that aspect of this book. It was nice to see a scientist girl for once. It was nice to have a girl power nerd. Everything about this book made me fall deeper and deeper in love with the character and the plot. Lute was the best thing though in this entire book. I highly recommend this book to everyone. I don't think I will never not fangirl over this book. My expectation were meet and went higher than I ever thought imaginable. Please do yourself a favor and go read this book!! *I received this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review. This review did not have to be positive.*

  30. 5 out of 5

    Addy S.

    "You remind me I can do impossible things." amazing. absolutely amazing. this is my first book i've tackled by mary, and it did not disappoint one bit. not only is this book clean, it is unique and had me hooked from the first couple of chapters! here are the details: -Language: use of 'bloody' multiple times (ex: "Just bloody stop") -Romance: several scenes of kissing (all clean), closeness/hugging, feelings -Violence: several people in the story purposefully harm people, there are creatures who ch "You remind me I can do impossible things." amazing. absolutely amazing. this is my first book i've tackled by mary, and it did not disappoint one bit. not only is this book clean, it is unique and had me hooked from the first couple of chapters! here are the details: -Language: use of 'bloody' multiple times (ex: "Just bloody stop") -Romance: several scenes of kissing (all clean), closeness/hugging, feelings -Violence: several people in the story purposefully harm people, there are creatures who chase after the characters and end up killing several people, some punching/mild fighting -Blood/Gore: in her research for finding a cure for the crippling disease, she has to cut open dead people to take blood samples (this was pretty detailed in the first/second chapters), details of severe injuries and the effects of the disease -Potentially sensitive: a character advances romantically on a girl (i.e. nearly forcefully kisses her) even though she wants nothing to do with him. Does not go too far, but not enjoyable to read. The details of the dead people are more vivid at times, as a fair warning. honestly, i wanted to read this book because of how similar it seemed to the Mazerunner by James Dashner. in some ways, it was similar (the maze, of course) but honestly other than that it wasn't close. i could not get out of this wonderful story. while it got a bit gory/detailed at times, nothing was too descriptive for me to have to stop. i also appreciated that the romance was simple and clean, and there was no language minus several minor uses of 'bloody'. also, my least favorite character was good ol' Vincent King. the guy doesn't deserve his last name, that's for sure. xD his ending tho- that shocked me. anyways. can't say anything else. and of course. Rhen and Lute. NO ONE TOUCH LUTE. he is mine. and he must be protected. the sweet guy. how kind and caring. and how brave and determined Rhen was. she desired to rise. and she ROSE! i'll close this review with a quote from the book: "You are the one who has to live with the future, baby girl. So you live it. You understand?" 5 stars from me. 100% recommend. <3

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