Welcome to my stop on the FFBC blog tour for To Best the Boys by Mary Weber! I am so excited to share my thoughts on this lovely book with you, and give you a chance to win a copy, too! ?
To Best the Boys by Mary Weber
Series: To Best the Boys #1
Published by Thomas Nelson on March 5, 2019
Pages: 352
Format:ARC, eARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Netgalley

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.

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To Best the Boys is my first Mary Weber book, but definitely won’t be my last! (Seriously guys, how have I not read Sofi Snow yet? This is a fail that needs to be remedied immediately!) Anyway, let’s talk about this one, shall we?

The Stuff I Liked:

  • I love a competition. Especially when people can legit lose their lives, not just a contest. (Does this make me seem like an awful person? It’s okay, I can live with it.) And while this competition’s prize, isn’t quite life-or-death, that doesn’t mean its competitors are safe. I don’t know why, but this will always appeal to me.
  • Rhen being into science is awesome. Especially because she is also tackling it with dyslexia, and extra especially because she absolutely has the chops to make a name for herself. You know, if only the patriarchy wasn’t a thing.
  • Rhen’s close friendship with her cousin is seriously everything. Seleni is a great character in her own right, but the fact that this women have each other’s backs is really refreshing. The fact that Selini believes in Rhen and her dreams… well honestly it’s the female friendship we all deserve.
  • Family is a huge focus. Rhen doesn’t just want to win to pursue a career, she’s straight up trying to save her mom’s life with her scientific pursuit. Which, of course, makes the stakes of the competition that much higher. But I loved that the author really explores the relationships between Rhen and both parents. It would have been easy to just use the “sick mom sympathy card” but the author really fleshes out the bonds, and I loved that.
  • The romance is very shippable! I swooned. The love interest is quite the nice guy in a sea of creepers, which I suppose is helpful, but I found him genuinely likable in his own right.
  • It started off a wee bit slow, but wow did it pick up! I flew right through the story, because when the action got going (not far in, either!) things got good.

The Stuff I Didn’t Like:

  • I would like some more background on the world. So I was fascinated by the world, and I like it, I just didn’t fully understand it? So more, please and thank you!
  • There were times it required some suspension of disbelief. Like, only one person saw through her shoddy boy disguise? Sounds fake, but okay.
  • A few bits were pretty predictable. That didn’t take away from the story a ton, but I did guess some of the twists early on.

Bottom Line: Strong female lead, loads of great relationships, and a ton of adventure make this one absolutely worth the read! Can’t wait for the next book!

About Mary Weber

Hi. I write books. I eat things. I kiss things. I believe in mermaids.
I'm also the author of the Storm Siren Trilogy, The Evaporation of Sofi Snow series, and the March 2019 release, To Best the Boys. When not working, I sing 80’s hairband songs to my three muggle children, and ogle my husband who looks strikingly like Wolverine. We live in California, which is perfect for stalking aging movie stars while wearing fanny packs and sweatpants.
For those who like to know such things (mainly my mom), Storm Siren was featured in the Scholastic Book Fair and my novels have been endorsed by such nice humans as Marissa Meyer, CJ Redwine, Shannon Messenger, and Jonathan Maberry (in fact, Marissa Meyer and I have a fun interview in the paperback of her book, CRESS). Also, Boba tea & sweatpants are life. {We can chat about life (in sweatpants over tea, obviously) in my Newsletter.

Win 1 of 2 finished copies of TO BEST THE BOYS by Mary Weber (1 INTERNATIONAL winner & 1 US ONLY winner)

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Do you love a good competition? Tell me about some of your favorite books that feature one!

Posted February 28, 2019 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Blog Tour, Giveaway, Review / 13 Comments


13 responses to “To Best the Boys by Mary Weber: Review & Giveaway

  1. I totally agree about wanting more of the world and the occasional predictability. Fortunately I also enjoyed everything else about it, so I’m glad to see you enjoyed it also! It’s definitely one that I’m hoping to see more people start talking about soon. 🙂 Great review!

  2. I’m starting reading this today and I’M SO EXCITED!!! The blurb has so many slaying the patriarchy feels and I am here for it. ?And we all know you love competition books *eyeballs the Hunger Games* ?

  3. Well the cover had me really. The fact that it’s GOOD is a nice bonus. 🙂 Love the sound of the family elements and the high stakes, although yeah the disguise thing- I feel like rarely is that ever really plausible, but you can’t have it all right? Still this sounds fabulous.

  4. That cover! I really like the sound of this one Shannon despite those few issues. The romance sounds really lovely, I’m so ready to swoon. I love books that place the emphasis on families, I think for most teens they’re usually the most important people their lives. Beautiful review Shannon, really enjoyed it.

  5. Irma

    I love it! That part where girls don disguises got me. It’s on my TBR list and I can not wait to read it. These are the stories I love to read. I love YA fantasy romances, too.

  6. ‘if only the patriarchy wasn’t a thing’ wow I hardcore relate to that quite a lot!

    Great review of this one and it sounds so interesting. I think I am going to love Rhen because I love a character who is passionate about something and overcomes all obstacles to be able to do it. I think I could handle the mediocre world building for the story, and I don’t mind some predictability. As long as it doesn’t overshadow everything!

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