The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Genre(s): YA, Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary, Romance
Published: September 2020
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
“If yes is no and once is never, then how many sides does a triangle have?”
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
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.
“Everything’s a game, Avery Grambs. The only thing we get to decide in this life is if we play to win.”
This was yet another random pick up from my library’s “new” shelf awhile back. I knew nothing about it other than the basis synopsis. I guess from the beginning, I knew I’d end up not enjoying this. It wasn’t a bad read, not at all, but it just wasn’t for me.
How would you react if you suddenly came into the inheritance of billions of dollars, including a sport team and a mansion, from someone you didn’t even know? And what would you do when the family decides that you shouldn’t be there at all?
There were three things that frustrated me with this one:
(1) This book is described as a combination of Cinderella, Knives Out, and One of Us is Lying.
The problem is, I absolutely love OoUiL but found Knives Out mostly just annoying to sit through. And nowhere in this story did I ever see any resemblance of Cinderella… (If you saw the Cinderella aspect, could you please leave a comment on what exactly it was?)
(2) The presence of an unnecessary love triangle. While love triangles were a vital part to, well, basically the entire story, I did not see the reason for the love triangle with Avery. Especially when at no point could I really root for either choice because more often than not, I would have rather of stranded them in Blackwood.
(3) The “twist” at the end. Which I can’t speak for because of spoilers, so I’ll just say that it was extremely predictable from the get-go. Although, admittedly, I am intrigued by the idea of the second book.
As far as the rest of the story, there wasn’t enough keeping me invested in what was going on. The writing itself was good, but the pacing was a bit slow in most places, the puzzles didn’t seem too intriguing, and at no point did I ever really care to know why Avery was chosen to inheritance the fortune.
I didn’t have enough interest in the characters either. Most of them barely had enough personality for me to even pay attention to, while others that are vital to the story don’t even show up until after halfway through. The only characters outside of Avery who get a significant amount of time on page and are actually present throughout the entire story are the Hawthorne boys. And not even all of them.
Nash is the oldest, and the one with a hero complex. Unfortunately, we barely know anything else about him.
Grayson is the next in line, the dark and mysterious one who cares about his family and can’t understand what Avery has to do with it.
Jameson has a love for puzzles and thinks everything’s a game. He grows quickly attached to Avery in hopes of figuring out what’s going on.
Then there’s sweet Xander, the baby of the family and an absolute genius. He’s sweet and caring, and though he often speaks in riddles, he understands more than he lets on. If you can’t tell, he was my favorite of the bunch.
Aside from the Hawthorne boys, I also had a soft spot for Libby, Avery’s step-sister, who was such a caring girl in a difficult situation. While I would have appreciated more time with her, I really appreciated the bond between the girls.
Something I did love was the themes and lessons here. This book touches on the evils of money and greediness. It talks about the importance of creating your own story, and not letting others decide who you are. But most importantly, it teaches about the importance of family and what it means to keep secrets.
If you’re iffy on the love-triangle aspect, I would might avoid reading this one, but if that doesn’t bother you, and you tend to love mysteries, especially if you enjoyed watching Knives Out, I would recommend giving this one a try!