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314 pages, Hardcover
First published March 19, 2019
For the girl who’s been told to quiet down, calm down, sit down, or just leave it to the men-this is for you. And to those who told you such things? Watch. Us. Rise.
I feel like this will be an inspiration to young girls. The book will show them they don't need a man to make it in life and to think for themselves.
Rhen wants to be a scientist and she creeps around the town collecting "things" to try to find a cure for a disease that is killing people. Some of her loved ones have the disease. Rhen and her father both want to find a cure.
Meanwhile, Rhen and her cousin Seleni enter a maze that is supposedly for only boys. It doesn't specifically say that in the invitation so there is that. The two girls and boys go up against each other in the maze and there are some deaths.
But in the end will get to see Rhen make life choices that include a boy but not primarily a boy. She's going to do HER thing.
I liked the book well enough, I just felt there was bit lacking in the maze department and a few other things that kept me from giving this more than 3 starts.
MY AMAZON REVIEW
“It’s not that I don’t belong. It’s that I belong to me.”
I’ve been interested in To Best the Boys since I read the synopsis. A mysterious labyrinth and a scientist girl wanting to best the boys in a competition? It sounded like my cup of tea. Unfortunately, it wasn’t what I was expecting.
Rhen Tellur is a teenager who dreams about becoming a scientist in a fantasy setting where only boys get a chance to go to the university. When she receives the annual letter inviting boys to compete for a scholarship to the university in Mr. Holm’s labyrinth, she sees an opportunity to prove herself and to get the resources in order to find a cure for her mother’s disease.
The premise got my attention from the first moment. The thing is that, to my great disappointment, only one half of the book takes place in the labyrinth. I was expecting that the main plot of the book revolved around the competition, but I think that it focuses more in the disease that is taking place in Pinsbury Port. Furthermore, I felt that the labyrinth plot was too rushed and although I liked some aspects of it, I was disappointed by the majority of it.
I saw one of the supposed plot-twists coming from the beginning, but I really liked the other revelation—that one actually took me by surprise. I also liked the portrayal of the different social classes, the feminist aspects and the fact that the main character has dyslexia and that Ben has autism and Down syndrome. The inclusion of the latter made me especially happy for personal reasons, but I didn’t like the description (he’s described as a five-year-old in a fourteen-year-old body), although I understand that such portrait is based on a family member of the author and also a friend of hers. I think it was about time to include characters with Down syndrome in fiction, but I wouldn’t have noticed that Ben has Down syndrome if it wasn’t for the author’s note at the end.
Overall, To Best the Boys was just an okay read for me. It has some of the typical ingredients in YA fantasy such as teen romance, but it also focuses on family, feminism and there is autism, dyslexia and Down syndrome representation. The plot has a couple of enjoyable aspects, but the main points were very predictable and even boring.
“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.”
P.S.: English isn’t my native language, so I apologise if you see any mistakes.