Title: To Best The Boys
Author: Mary Weber
Date Published: March 19, 2019
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.
Welcome to my stop! Thanks to The Fantastic Flying Book Club and to Thomas Nelson the publisher for making this blog tour possible.
This book is great for fans of Caraval and The Madman’s Daughter.
This may just be a light fantasy novel that skirts over most of the predictable tropes and plot devices, but it’s the message it conveys which makes this book quite a compelling read. The first chapter is a great hook and I love that we already get to see a multi-faceted feisty heroine and, one that enjoys to slice open a cadaver to study! I’ve already read 4 novels that have this the same nature with our dear Rhen, and welp I just can’t get enough of these types for sure.
And while this book may lean heavily on a feminist theme riddled with your usual romance and YA dilemma, what I really find worth noting is Rhen’s relationship with her cousin Seleni. I love the fact that this addresses the stigma with our perception of womanhood. Seleni clearly wants to be a wife and a mother and, there’s no shame in wanting that kind of life, the same way that there’s no shame in Rhen wanting to pursue a career path unconventional for women.
It’s in this part of the book where I actually stopped and thought “YUP THAT’S WHAT YOU CALL TRUE FEMINISM.” Because let’s face it, most people would’ve thought that feminism equates to man-hating, which I’m so sick and tired of hearing about. It’s not a matter of dominance but rather in the acceptance of femininity which by the way we all have! Whatever your gender is we all have different doses of masculine and feminine energy. Feminism is intersectional.
This really stood out to me because I was one of those women who despised other women for being to “girly”, too “pink”,or too “frilly” before. Which by the way just means that we despise being vulnerable and viewed as too much of a “girl” for fear of being victimized. (It may not apply to you but this was how I felt when I was still a teen) If you’re like me before, then please stop rejecting your own femininity. Please stop lumping other girls into boxes with labels like “shallow” or “girly”. It’s unhealthy my friend, and quite counterproductive.
To Best The Boys may be predictable in some ways but it’s true to the heart.
P.S. If you’re a sucker for purple prose, then this book’s just made for you!
“We want you to follow your dreams, not your guilt, Rhen.”
“Rhen, people aren’t as impressed by dead bodies as you are. You can’t just talk about them in public.”
“His full lips still have that pucker the girls liked to swoon over. The same one I wondered more than a few times if the tissue was actually formed that way, or if he was just perpetually in the mood to kiss things. I once imagined dissecting his face to find out.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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