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December Review: Powerful Young Adult Read

To Best the Boys

Author: Mary Weber

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

If you haven’t caught it over the last couple months, I pay attention to who wins the Realm Awards each year. I have yet to find a winner from these awards that wasn’t a thoroughly entertaining read. This one was no exception.

Realm Award 2020 winner in the Young Adult Category. Interest piqued.

The cover of this book alone made me want to read it. Something about mazes and labyrinths has fascinated me since I was a child spending hours on my bedroom carpet drawing increasingly complicated mazes to challenge my friends. The cover of a girl caught in a complex hedge maze caught my eye.

Definitely going to check this out.

The moment I read the book jacket and learned that the maze was deadly and part of an annual competition for boys to earn a university scholarship—the book was in my hands at the checkout.

This is my type of book.

Even better, the protagonist is a strong, smart female character. Perfect—now my daughter and I can enjoy the book together. Dad win.

All this, and I hadn’t even read the first page. Then, I did. I was not disappointed.

Rhen Tellur loves science and discovery and is smarter than most of the boys around her. One problem. She lives in Pinsbury Port where only the boys receive a college education, while the girls train for their duties as wives and homemakers. That is, until Rhen realizes that Mr. Holm’s annual invitation is addressed to all gentlepersons instead of gentlemen. With her cousin and a convincing-enough disguise, Rhen launches herself into the deadly labyrinth contest to become the first female to win a scholarship to Stemwick University.

The reader will find themselves quickly caught up in the light fantasy world of Pinsbury Port. Weber has not only written an entertaining story but also one with depth, pointing to the very relevant topic of gender equality. As a male reader, Rhen has helped me better understand the heartache felt by my wife and daughter and women like them as they are sometimes overlooked by the world, despite their talent and brilliant minds. You will find yourself rooting for Rhen at every turn. She is an everyday hero anyone can get behind.

My only criticism of the book is the pace lags a bit early in the story, but the reader is rewarded once Rhen enters the maze. I could not put the book down at that point.

The book is clean, without language or sex. There is some violence in the deadly maze. The opening scene involves a little bit of gore. Nothing the average young adult reader cannot handle. Once high school studies stop kicking my daughter’s butt, I’ll be encouraging her to read this one.

Available on Amazon or your local bookstore (support local business!).

No disclaimer. I did not receive anything from the author, nor was I requested to write this review.


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