Hi friends! Welcome back to another review! Been feeling pretty good so far this week so I’d love to try and get a couple more reviews out – at this point I’m reading faster than I’m reviewing and that’s go to change! I’m also switching tracks on my YouTube channel to make it just about books since filming those videos are what gives me more joy. Check over there soon for a mid-year freakout tag!
Synopsis & Quick Thoughts
The Inheritance Games is the newest series by author Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Avery Grambs is a girl with a mostly normal life, with dreams of leaving her small town and going to college on scholarship. But when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves his entire estate and fortune to Avery, her life is turned upside down. Avery has never even heard of Tobias; why would he leave his fortune to her, and not to his four grandsons? She’s whisked away to the massive and mysterious Hawthorne House, where Tobias has left a series of puzzles and riddles for Avery – and his grandsons – to solve.
This book was super cute and fun. Although it had its moments of higher-stakes, this book was certainly more family-friendly than a lot of titles that I’ve read recently, and it was a nice breath of fresh air. A little bit of romance but nothing intense or overly lewd. Just a good old-fashioned puzzle-solving mystery. Cute, clever, and a good introduction to YA mystery. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the open ending – seemed a little too sequel-baity for me – but for the most part I can’t complain.
I really appreciated the target demographic of this book. I feel like there can often be a large maturity gap between middlegrade and young adult books – middle grade is often written for a lower level in more simplistic themes and prose, but the content and themes in young adult literature is often too mature for many younger teens. This book gives you all the important and more complex themes of a YA book without the smut, language (there is some but it’s more moderate than other books I’ve read), and graphic violence that often turn readers or their parents away from the genre. There are light themes of domestic violence and an abusive relationship of a side character, and there are threats and attempts made on the life of the protagonist, along with some mild language, but it’s nothing I wouldn’t let a junior high schooler read. The lighter tone and easier themes were something that even I, as an adult who enjoys heavier themed novels, found enjoyable and a nice change of pace.
I also found the plot of this book to be cute and unique. I wouldn’t say it was particularly twisty or suspenseful, but it was clever and kept me invested. I liked the characters and their relationships, although some of them felt a little flat. This book took me a while to read but it wasn’t for lack of a good time. This book was lots of fun.
There were a couple of minor things that I didn’t love about this book, and the combination of them has diminished my interest in reading the sequel (although I still might, who knows!). The romance in this book felt a little jammed in and sort of insta-lovey, which isn’t really my thing. I understood why it was there, I suppose, but I think the book could have gone without any romance at all.
And now, it’s time for your favorite ending-basher to come in and tell you that this ending left too much to be desired. I felt like I read almost 400 pages of mystery only to be told that I’d have to read the sequel to figure it out for sure. What a bummer. We all know that I hate when books sequel-bait, and that’s what this felt like. Really disappointing, since I was invested in this story, but I don’t know if I want to go through another 400 page sequel to get an answer; my level of investment wasn’t that high.
Rating & Final Thoughts
I think The Inheritance Games deserves a fair 3.5 out of 5 stars. It fills such an important niche in between the middlegrade and young adult genre, and with such a clever and well-written mystery. If you’re looking for a good puzzle-solving mystery and don’t mind feeling like you need to read the sequel for closure, I highly recommend.
Purchase The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes here.