Book Review: “The Inheritance Games” by Jennifer Lynn Barnes


The cover of The Inheritance Games (from

Charlie Laiacona, Staff Writer

The Inheritance Games, with its deep green cover, was immediately enticing as soon as I accidentally picked it up in English class. The blurb on the back advertises a girl with a low budget suddenly finding out she’s the main heir of a Texas billionaire’s fortune…yes. Billionaire. With a ‘b’. I quickly acquired it from a bookstore in Georgia over spring break.

The book opens with the main character, Avery, giving some backstory and showing us how her chess game is going in the park with a homeless man named Harry – a scene that reminds me of an aspect of James Patterson’s Max Einstein series. 

After speeding through some more parts of the backstory (which doesn’t get into too much detail) we’re pulled into a wildly, near-perfectly crafted story. The elements of the puzzle are discovered at the right times, nothing too easy, nothing too hard. Some of the characters were a bit underdeveloped (one in particular seemed to speak in constant poetry and riddles but didn’t do much else besides be weirdly charismatic to the main character for an empty shell of a being). Otherwise, I’ve never read such a complex and well-written mystery. 

A particular side character was appreciated well by both me and a friend was Max, Avery’s long-distance best friend who replaced real expletives with words like “fox” or “ship” in order to avoid getting in trouble with her parents. This became a week-long series of back-and-forth texts consisting of “holy ship!” and “what the elf?” 

When we think everything’s going to be fine and nothing’s going to escalate too far, readers are suddenly surprised with a series of near-death experiences and threats to the main character’s life. It provides valuable lessons on toxic relationships through Drake, Avery’s older sister’s “on-again, off-again” boyfriend, but it’s countered by weirdly unrealistic romance between Avery and several of the Hawthorne grandsons. To quote a user named Yun on Goodreads, “it felt like they were all approximately the same person, just slightly apart in age”.  

If you don’t mind minor characterisation issues and love mysteries with just enough challenge, I’d say The Inheritance Games is for you.