By: Lindsey Pfeffer, Columnist
“The Inheritance Games” is Jennifer Lynn Barnes’ latest series in her career of young adult literature. This book is one of her more mature releases, intended for the older end of the young adult (YA) spectrum, pulling themes from current favorites like “Knives Out” and the high school drama of “Gossip Girl,” all on the axis of a modern Cinderella story.
Avery Grambs grew up with little and she focuses on her grades in hopes of securing a scholarship to go to college. Enter a will reading which declares her the sole inheritor of a dead man’s fortune. Next thing she knows, she is forced to live in his mansion with his four grandkids. On top of all that, she must go to one of the most exclusive preparatory high schools in the U.S.
She is suddenly thrust into a world of intrigue and puzzles. The reader follows Avery as she tries to untangle the web and reveal the answers she is seeking – why her? How did this man know her?
This story is a bit of an odd premise, as we have to follow along with Avery to figure out the plausibility of a strange rich man leaving her his entire fortune without having any backstory. We also see a lot of familiar settings; a giant mansion that has secret passageways, chambers only accessible by solving a puzzle, and the seclusion of the rich.
As we progress further into the story, the ways in which the narrative can go, seem to span outwards in a spiral. At first it seemed pretty cut and dry, but gradually, more and more possibilities pop up and distort what you thought was going on.
This book keeps readers on their toes, constantly second guessing what they thought they knew with the reveal of each new piece of information.
As with “Gossip Girl,” we borrow the politics of high school, especially in light of the wealth disparity between Avery and the students of her new high school. Avery fulfills the Jenny Humphrey of this story, if Jenny had ended up inheriting Chuck Bass’s fortune when he died instead of Lily, with the ensuing fallout.
I found myself drawn into this book because I love a good mystery, and personally the more tropes a book can hit, the more fun it is to read. This is for enjoyment, a quick easy read to pull you out of studying for a few hours.
This book in particular pulled me in to read in one sitting, devouring the pages because it’s a story not seen often; a story where you are constantly reframing the entire piece in your head as you read. I think that is where this book really succeeds, by making you notice every detail until the context comes along later in the story to explain the significance.
“The Inheritance Games” is a fun read, and with every question answered, the answers seem to provide more questions in turn. It’s fast paced, high stakes, and a bit of a slowburn. Romance is budding as we approach the end of the novel, but you’ll have to read the second book, “The Hawthorne Legacy,” to see if it goes anywhere, and to find out how Avery ended up here.