The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes {Books 1-2 Review}

One of the genres I haven’t really gone into as much is Mystery, which is surprising given I actually enjoy the ‘who done it’ style stories in general. I like seeing if I can guess who it will be, who’s next, or figuring out any clues honestly. Reading wise I’m not the always the quickest to figure out things, so most mystery novels are me gasping and being shocked. So the latest YA Mystery everyone is loving? I was all game. This is a review covering the first two books of the Inheritance Games; Inheritance Games and The Hawthorne Legacy, so there are spoilers ahead.


The Inheritance Games series follows Avery Grambs as she finds out she is the sudden inheritor of the Hawthorne fortune. The catch? She not only isn’t related to the family, but also has never met any of them to her knowledge. Under the impression she is just getting the poor girl treatment, she goes to the will reading thinking she’ll get maybe a thousand or so if she’s lucky. When the real amount is revealed though, she finds herself in the center of a growing mystery surrounding the reason Tobias Hawthorne left her the money, and his family cents on the dollar.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

It’s been a while since I’ve had a good mystery series to get lost in, and this one was fun. From the moment we learn Avery is in the Hawthorne will it all begins. I would have been just as confused as she was, racking her brain for how on earth her name could have even appeared in front of someone worth billions. To learn that it was even more than the few thousand that would get her decent living accommodations just came like the wind being knocked out of you. It starts the book and series off with a bang as you realize that any money like that comes with great risks both from those around you, and the general public. Add in the other question of why none of the Hawthornes got that money, and it begins a whole other game of dark family history.

This series’ winning characteristic is in the mystery. From the first big mystery of the money and Tobias Hawthorne, we are left continually guessing at his intentions and how Avery even came to be a part of it. There’s something there, but even background checks don’t always get those pesky little details, especially when the man behind them made it into a game. It’s definitely what kept me interested in the two books, and ready for the third/finale. It’s the kind of mystery that is multi-layered, and ready to keep you guessing, so I inherently need to read this next book so I can find out all the secrets we’ve been guessing at.

I really liked the cast of characters we are introduced to in this series, including both the nice/innocent ones and the ones we know will find whatever loophole they can. Each group kept it interesting, and honestly there were a few that were much deeper than we originally suspected, so I always enjoy that nice touch. Where I struggled a bit was with the love triangle that comes up (pretty quickly at that), and then Avery herself at times. From the onset we are shown that Avery is a typical rags to riches story, coming from almost nothing, and inheriting so much money it’s in the stupid money category. She’s shocked when it happens, but for the most part she adapts pretty quickly to the idea. Where I struggled with her was in the empathy department. If you happen to have the same struggles as she did then you’re golden, but it’s kind of like if you’re rich you must not have any issues in her eyes. I feel like this is a common view to some degree, but it’s typically one thrown at celebs by people they’ve never met, not someone you are in contact with almost 24/7. I’m hoping it becomes a point of growth, but I’ve seen this one in books and it kind of gets brushed aside.

The other negative for me was in some of the bad guys we are given. There are the ones we think are bad, but turn out to be good, and then there are quite a few that really dig into their trope based roles. The father is abusive from the start, but lives up to expectation as he goes after the little bit of connection he has left with Avery so he can have her money. It’s icky yes, but can you say you never saw it coming? The one that was odd for me though was Libby’s boyfriend/ex who goes from domestic abuse/gaslighting to trying to kill Avery for the money. There’s some reasoning and planning that goes behind this jump in different crimes, but it felt like a jump. I’d rather have seen Libby getting to leave him in the dust after he made a scene in front of the journalists than suddenly go down a murder spree craziness.

The thing overall though that really had me enjoying these books was in how it felt very ‘Knives Out’. There’s a seriousness behind the mystery and the deaths around the Hawthorne family, but there’s also a general wild ride sense to it. No one’s “tell” is puking in this one, but while you are trying to figure out the whole mystery it’s still fun to read. I think this is telling me I need to find a classic Mystery to try soon like Agatha Christie, so I can have some more mystery solving fun.


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