Every week, Volumes will feature a new review from one of your St Cuthberts classmates. Want to write one of your own? It's easy! Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line 'Book review request' to find out more.
This week, Madeleine McDonald (Year 9) explores Jennifer Lynn Barnes' unsettling thriller The Inheritance Games.
‘To some people, you’ll be Cinderella. To others, Marie Antoinette.’
The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, published last year, follows Avery Grambs, a high school student with an absent father, dead mother, a half-sister that doubles as a guardian, and a clear plan for her future. Everything changes when a teenager in a suit shows up at her school. Fast forward, and she’s at the reading of a billionaire’s will, having just inherited his entire estate. However, Avery must live in his secret-passage riddled mansion for one year, alongside his two daughters and four charismatic, handsome grandsons. Avery soon discovers a trail of clues left by the late billionaire. Meanwhile, she struggles to navigate the complex world of the Hawthornes, with the added pressure of constant media attention. Avery has just inherited a fortune people would lie and kill for, and in an alien environment she doesn’t know who to trust.
This book is aimed at around 13+, a similar age to the author’s — Barnes — other YA books.
The best thing about The Inheritance Games is its characters. While the plot is fast paced and complex, and the writing is amazing, the characters are three dimensional and many-layered. First and foremost is Avery, the main character. Avery’s backstory is well-written, and her pragmatic personality makes her a sharp contrast to the extravagant world of the Hawthornes. The Hawthornes themselves are enigmatic and charming, magnetic characters that draw you further into the story. Even side characters, such as Avery’s friend Max or Libby’s — Avery’s sister — abusive boyfriend Drake, are well thought out and realistic. The characters, both minor and major, breathe life to The Inheritance Games.
I really enjoyed reading this book. The Inheritance Games draws you in right from the first page. It reminds me of a more modern version of The Westing Game, with much deadlier stakes. The ‘mystery’ element is well thought out, and isn’t too convoluted, even though there are plenty of twists to keep the plot interesting. Any discoveries Avery makes feel natural, not forced, and the series of clues and puzzles are intricate but the reader can link them together easily. The characters are vibrant, and fun to read about, especially the protagonist Avery. However, I do wish this had been a stand-alone, rather than a trilogy, as I feel the story could have been wrapped up in a single book. Apart from this, I find it hard to find any major negatives. The Inheritance Games is well rounded and well written.
Overall, I loved The Inheritance Games. It hits all the notes that a mystery — or any good book — should. The characters are realistic and full of life. I would recommend this book to anyone older than 12. In my opinion, this is one of the best books I have read this year.
Keen to read? You can check out Jennifer Lynn Barnes' The Inheritance Games at the Frances Compton Library, or pick up an e-book copy!
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