To Best the Boys – Mary Weber

— DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Many thanks for this opportunity! —


STAR RATING: 4.5/5 ✶


SUMMARY: Rhun is your average teenage girl in a rigid world reminiscent of the nineteenth-century. Well, except for her fondness for cadavers and a desire to study medicine. On a whim, she decides to enter a local contest for a scholarship to the (all male) unversity, realizing that the contest doesn’t actually specify any kind of gender…

OPINIONS: oh, what a wonderful fuck you to the patriarchy this book is! Without discussing modern issues directly, Mary Weber manages to evoke social struggles women still face – to a lesser extent than Rhun does in the story – today. In the world this book is set in, gender roles are stricly divided, and all a woman is intended to be is a decorative wife. Education and any kind of power is reserved for the men. Rhun, however, figured that her desire to study medicine, in order to find a cure for the wasting sickness affecting the lower rungs of society, is more important than following the rules. She’s definitely a girl after my own heart,  fighting for the greater good against a government of crusty old(ish) men who have decided that an illness that does not affect them directly is of no importance. 

This shows not only the feminist struggle for equality, but also the very current issue of the rich versus the poor, affecting many modern societies. The story eventually brings this to a pointed climax, as not only had the disease been ignored and allowed to fester,  but had it’s origin in one of the young male elite and his carelessness. 

On top of these fantastic messages, the story is well-written, in a way where every piece of the puzzle fits together exactly as they are supposed to. The characters all have their intrinsic motivation to be part of the story, which is rare, and one of my favourite things to discover about a book. The plot is driven, with little unnecessary fluff or padding, and connects together nicely. I definitely want to check out Mary’s other books, as I believe that there is a lot we can learn from her craft.

Add the book on goodreads and preorder it wherever you prefer to buy your books – it’s worth it!


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