To Best the Boys by Mary Weber Review

⇒Featuring mazes, feminism and genuine relationships.


“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?”
Mary Weber, To Best the Boys

I absolutely adored this fantastic, feminist Young Adult novel! Being a feminist myself, I was cheering Rhen on all the way through the book! This book tackles issues like sexism but is also a thoroughly enjoyable and adventurous read.

Rhen Tellur lives in a world where men are in charge. Men study science, men make the decisions and men aren’t always right. Rhen is an avid scientist who strives to find a cure for the disease that has killed many and has begun to take her mother.

I loved the story of Rhen standing up to the boys and taking what was rightfully hers. She is such an important heroine! But what really got me in this book, is it teaches girls we can be what we want to be! Rhen wants to be a scientist in a man’s world, and she fights for that, but her cousin Seleni wants to settle down with the man she loves and have children and be his wife. And Mary Weber doesn’t present this negatively! She shows that this aspiration takes its own kind of bravery, and if it’s what the woman really wants like Seleni does, that’s just as amazing as being a scientist or a politician. This book teaches girls that as long as they really want something, nothing should hold them back.

Seleni and Rhen’s friendship was so awesome. They’re both intelligent and forthright and  I love these two heroines with ALL MY HEART!

The setting for this marvellous book is a late eighteenth century – esque, light fantasy world. This really fits the political system but we’ve also got ghouls and ballgowns! Mary Webber pulled this off amazingly.

So, where are the boys we have to best? In this book, there were two types of boys (mostly); the rich snobs that Rhen TOTALLY BESTED, and the soft and respectful (whilst still boyish) town boys. We need more guys like Lute (soft fisherman boy) and Beryll (soft rich boy).

I loved the romance in this book! It was obvious that the main character and the love interest were already friends, which we need more of in Young Adult books! Their relationship actually grew in the book and you could see it blossoming into romance without it being too cliché. The banter between these two was on point, and these two make me feel warm and fluffy. It wasn’t TOO much of the plot line, just enough, and it was so genuine!

Then there’s the maze aspect! We’ve got a kind of Maze-Runner/Caraval type of competition! Every year, teenage boys (and girls, this time!) take part in The Labyrinth! Hosted by a wealthy, mysterious benefactor, they must beat a series of tasks inside a maze (not usually deadly, but we’ll see) and the winner gets a scholarship to Stemwick University, the most established and expensive school for science in the country!

The Labyrinth only takes a day and doesn’t take up the bulk of the book. The fantasy aspects definitely showed up in this part of the book!

I stayed up so late reading this book! The writing was so elegant and yet easy to read. This book definitely hit home for me, part love and sweetness (family and friendship) and part fantasy and adventure (mazes and science). Plus, it’s a standalone, so you won’t have to wait years for a sequel! I would recommend this awesome book to anyone who loves badass heroines, magical competitions and gorgeous writing! I’m definitely going to keep an eye on Mary Weber in the future, and I’m excited to see what she writes next! I usually stay away from star ratings, but I can confirm this one got all five.

You can see the synopsis on Goodreads here, or go ahead and buy it from Amazon here.

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