Review | The Inheritance Games

Title: The Inheritance Games
Series Details: The Inheritance Games #1
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 01, 2020
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult

Blurb from Goodreads:

A Cinderella story with deadly stakes and thrilling twists.

Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why–or even who Tobias Hawthorne is. To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man’s touch–and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes.

Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a con-woman, and he’s determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather’s last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.

Who doesn’t love a good mystery, right? And The Inheritance Games is a good family mystery littered with puzzles, riddles, and secrets. Oh, so many secrets! To uncover them, one must play the game, follow the clues, and maybe in the end, they’ll find answers.

Things set into motion after the death of billionaire Tobias Hawthorne, when his surviving family found out that he had left his huge fortunes to a complete stranger—Avery Grambs. But for Tobias’ will to fully take effect, Avery must first live in Hawthorne House with his disinherited family for a full year. It’s a bit of a relief that Tobias has also already arranged a security and legal team to work for Avery immediately after his will was read. But still, living in an enormous house full of secret passageways with the family who clearly hates her and a whole staff that’s loyal to them? Thrilling! I mean, that just screams dangerous… and awkward.

“Everything is something in Hawthorne House.”

Tobias’ last will gave birth to so many questions, and once everyone—more specifically, Avery and the Hawthorne grandsons—decided that they wanted answers, the book gives off this whole elaborate treasure hunt vibe, except that they weren’t hunting for treasures. They were looking for possible answers to their biggest question—why Avery? And this question is the most intriguing thing in the book. It piques your interest, easy. It just compels you to read and get to the bottom of it.

Like everything Hawthorne, the Hawthorne boys are an enigma. There wasn’t so much depth to their characters but you can easily tell them apart through their personalities. There’s Nash—who cares more about saving lost souls than his inheritance. Grayson—the cold and no-bullshit businessman. Jameson—the adventurer who loves playing his grandfathers games. Lastly, Alexander—the playful one who is a genius at inventing things. This book seem to have more focus on two of the Hawthorne boys. It would be nice if we see all four of them being more involved—and hopefully more layered—in the future installments.

“If there’s one thing the Hawthorne family isn’t, it’s fine. They were a twisted, broken mess before you got here, and they’ll be a twisted, broken mess once you’re gone.”

Avery is just an okay character, for me. Thankfully she’s not bratty, or rash, or immature, like most protagonists in this genre. But, like the boys, Avery could use more depth to her character. Right now, I haven’t seen her do much aside from being lucky, being the person to protect, and just being the puzzle.

The puzzle games are no doubt enjoyable, but this book also has its lows that cost it stars from my rating. First, it tends to be a little repetitive. Many times it repeats full sentences that I’ve just read a couple of pages ago, and repeats it again after a few pages. Second, the way the bad guys were dealt in this book wasn’t very satisfying. I feel like they weren’t punished enough for their murderous actions and some of them get off easy. Third, the book needs to improve its characterization. If the main characters are a bit flat, the secondary characters felt as if they’re nothing but background noise. And fourth, the twists are quite predictable—though not entirely disappointing.

Despite some issues, The Inheritance Games remains a very fun ride. It grabbed a hold of my curiosity and held it strongly until the end. I’ve read many YA books but this might be the first time that I found a book so engaging that it made me not care much about the things I didn’t like. So, if you’re looking for books that does these kind of things, give this a go and step into the game.

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