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The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers < Hachette Book Group
- Genre: Mystery/Thriller
- Audience: Young Adult
- Pages: 376 (hardcover)
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 conwoman, 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.“the inheritance games
Avery Grambs is a typical high-school teenager. Aside from the fact that her mom died and she lives out of her car, with no money to her name. But, hey, at least she’s got an enviable intellect.
After a normal day of playing chess with the local homeless man, visiting with her somewhat sister (it’s complicated, but with the character/relationship dynamics in this book, literally what isn’t?) who is in a toxic on-again-off-again relationship with an abusive boyfriend, and going to school, Avery gets a summons to Hawthorne House. Apparently, she’s been mentioned in the will of the mega-famous, multi-billionaire, recently deceased Tobias Hawthorne. And the will stipulates that aside from a few hundred thousand going to some of his staff, his bodyguard, and each of his daughters and his grandchildren (*cough cough* the Hawthorne brothers), all of his money and his assets, including Hawthorne house now belongs to her.
There’s only a few small catches: (1) Avery has never met the guy, and his connection to her and the reason behind his decisions haven’t been revealed, (2) the money and the assets are only hers if she agrees to live at Hawthorne House for an entire year, and (3) she is not allowed to kick anyone, staff or Hawthorne family, from the house (barring severe reason, such as attempted murder, which she’s more than certain that every Hawthorne family member now has motive to try).
Regardless of whatever opinions people may have about the writing style, the characters, or even the main plot behind all the mystery and intrigue, no one can deny this book is a good, fun time.
While the puzzles aren’t too difficult to parse, and some “plot twists” are seen coming from a mile away, there’s something about Barnes’ writing and her characters that just makes it so easy to binge read hundreds of pages in one sitting and enjoy every single second of it.
Avery Grambs herself comes from basically nothing, and inherits nearly all of the Hawthorne money and their assets. While she’s not as developed as she could be, I am inclined to be more lenient in that regard given its a trilogy, and there’s more than enough time for her to grow.
But what we do know of her is this:
Despite not being able to scrounge up a dollar at the beginning of the novel, when she inherits billions of dollars, she doesn’t go out of her way to spend it. In fact, the only money she attempts to spend is for charitable purposes. Additionally, she is bright. Exceptionally so, which makes her relationships with each of the elusive and mysterious Hawthorne brothers so much more intriguing. Because they are also exceptionally intelligent, and grew up with such competition festering among them, that it creates for a tense atmosphere when Avery is brought into the mix. Is she friend or foe? Will she team up with one, two, or all of the brothers, just to be betrayed by them later?
Speaking of the brothers, there was a good amount of differentiation between each of them that made the large cast of four brothers near to the same age easier to digest.
The cast isn’t exactly large, but juggling so many characters with such close relation to each other… It can quickly become difficult to maintain their individuality. As a reader, sometimes with certain stories or certain dynamics containing several similar characters, it can get confusing and difficult to remember who is who.
Barnes did a great job with giving each Hawthorne brother distinct characteristics (Nash: the disinterested Hawthorne brother who takes a step back from the mystery of Tobias Hawthrone’s mindboggling will and instead takes an interest in Avery’s sister; Grayson: the predicted heir to the Hawthorne fortune and the Hawthorne brother most inclined to suspicion and hostility regarding Avery; Jameson: arguably the brother most enthusiastic about a goodnatured competition, but always in it to win, so can he truly be trusted?; and Xander: the witty, youngest Hawthorne brother, an underdog at first glance, but with an intellect hiding just under the surface to pounce when one least expects it.
Let’s not forget the hint of romance that manages to edge its way in. While romance is by no means in the spotlight in this first installment, there are possibilities of romantic entanglements that might become more prominent as the series goes on. Just a warning (and an encouragement despite) that there are hints at a love triangle between Avery and two Hawthorne brothers. But it’s understated and there’s not much emphasis put on it, so even if you’re not a fan of love triangles, this book is definitely worth a try.
I promise, if you squint a little, you can forget it’s even there to begin with.
Much of the plot of The Inheritance Games takes place behind the large, likely iron-wrought gates of the Hawthorne mansion and it’s spacious estate.
With a mystery novel that resembles Clue but without all the murder (at least, as far as I’m concerned) and adding in the exciting thrill of a good, old-fashioned scavenger hunt… How could traipsing about a massive mansion of a multi-billionaire not be a grand time?
The amount of setting description, and the lavish, but not over-the-top (okay, it’s still over the top because this is a multibillionaire we are talking about, but it’s not gaudy) areas and aspects of the mansion and the Hawthorne estate, is almost whimsical in its extravagance. Though it’s clearly contemporary, and there is school and the typical teen drama to think about, the setting lends itself to a fairytale-esque feel.
I can see why The Inheritance Games is a BookTok star. It plays into so many beloved tropes: we’ve got a brooding love interest, a possible love triangle, and a tending to injury scene. And in addition to all that, The Inheritance Games is just a great time, with great vibes, and lots of fun brain-stretching puzzles to solve.
TROPES AND TRIGGER WARNINGS FEATURED
- Mystery to solve
- Love triangle
- Tending to injury
- Single POV, first person
The Inheritance GamesThe Inheritance Games
similar titles to the inheritance games
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Let’s Chat in the Comments!
How do you feel about love triangles in general? Even more, what about love triangles involving brothers? Do you prefer mystery/thrillers involving high stakes and murder cases? Or do you like the low-stakes but just as brain-twisting mystery/thrillers that focus more on puzzle solving and some good-natured intellectual competition?