Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Book Review: To Best The Boys by Mary Weber

Media Type: Print Book (ARC)
Title: To Best The Boys
Author: Mary Weber
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pages: Hardcover; 352
Release Date: March 5, 2019
Source: Publisher / FFBC Tours
Content Screening: Mild Violence

HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy fast paced, female centered and powerful reads!

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
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.
Settle in friends, because I'm about to ramble. It always strikes me as funny that it's so much harder for me to write a review of a book that I really loved, rather than one I didn't click with. I don't know how to accurately convey to you my deep love for everything about To Best The Boys, but I promise to do my best! If I go off on a few tangets, or gush a lot more than I plan to, please pardon me. This is a book that will definitely do that to you, and you'll soon see why.

Where to start? First off, Rhen is my new favorite character. She's so smart, so passionate, and so full of the kind of fire that makes me smile hard enough to hurt my face. Watching her and all the of townspeople like her, who fought to make a happy and comfortable space in a world that wanted to ignore them, made me happy. The message here about the division between the upper and lower classes (in this story, quite literal separation) is extremely well done. Just like our real world, the decisions made by the few, disconnected Upper patrons directly affect the many. Rhen is that special person, the one able to flit between these two worlds, and therefore the best voice for the people that she so adores. I couldn't think of a better person for the job.

Lest I gush about Rhen endlessly though, and forget the other characters, I should say that every person Mary Weber creates in this book is utterly perfect. From Lute, who has a huge heart, to Seleni, who is brave and sweet, to Vincent, who is a product of the Upper crust he was raised in. Each character that is touched upon is full of life and has their own personality. Whether I loved or hated them, it felt good to be lost in this new space surrounded by people who I actually enjoyed being with. Weber creates a sense of community here that I haven't felt while reading a story in a long time. It was so pleasant, and one of the biggest reasons that I adored this book.

Oh, and I haven't even touched on the plot yet. It's fairly obvious from the beginning that Rhen will be the one to upset the whole system in her town. What I didn't expect, was how perfect her journey to that point would be. This story is paced excellently, always revealing new things at just the right time to keep it moving. There is intrigue, there are heists, and there is just the right amount of romance to really make a reader like me feel like the balance was spot on. Her time spent in the Labyrinth was my favorite part, but you won't get any spoilers from me. You need to experience this yourself. I never felt bored, and I never felt rushed. In other words, I had a blast reading this!

So, as I'm sure you've already surmised, this book gets a massive five, sparkly stars from me. It's been quite a while since I've read a Fantasy book that made me want to push it at people and scream at them to read it. This book gets that honor. Read this. Buy it, borrow it, love it, and then push it at other people so they can too. It is so good! Come meet Rhen, and join me in gushing over To Best The Boys. You won't regret it.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


Related Posts with Thumbnails