YA Mini Reviews: The Inheritance Game and Majesty

Posted January 25, 2021 by Cristina (Girl in the Pages) in Books, Reviews / 4 Comments

YA Mini Reviews: The Inheritance Game and MajestyThe Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Also by this author: The Fixer (The Fixer, #1), Little White Lies (Debutantes, #1), Deadly Little Scandals (Debutantes, #2)
on September 1, 2020
Genres: Mystery, Young Adult
Pages: 384 •Format: E-BookSource: Overdrive

Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why--or even who Tobias Hawthorne is. To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man's touch--and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes.

Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a con-woman, and he's determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather's last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.

The Inheritance Games was one of my most anticipated books of 2020, so I was excited to be able to squeeze it in as my last book of the year! The description was giving me major The Westing Game vibes, one of my favorite middle grade novels, so I was excited to dive into the story. As expected, it was a very twisty plot with Barnes’ signature plot twists, puzzles and opportunities for readers to be kept on their toes. The whole wish-fulfillment premise was really fun (who doesn’t like to daydream what they’d do if they unexpected came into several billion dollars?) and I was constantly intrigued by the Hawthorn House + estate, which was massive and had every sort of crazy rich person amenity you could think of (and then some). The story was also rife with eccentric characters (as these sorts of mysteries often are) and four core brothers who each develop their own unique relationship with protagonist Avery.

While I didn’t dislike the novel, I also just wasn’t gripped by it. I finished it quickly enough but I didn’t find myself thinking about it when I put it down, and I just had the sense that I’d read it before. I’ve noticed a trend where Jennifer Lynn Barnes’ protagonists always read very similar to me (often down on their luck and/or raising themselves, coming into a new, fancy world where they are the tough girl outsider, always super clever and worldly, etc) and honestly Avery felt interchangeable with any of Barnes’ other protagonists, and while I love her stories and ability to write compelling mysteries I just wish there was some variation in personality traits of her protagonists to make the stories have a slightly different feel from one another.

Overall: This is definitely a clever and quick read, and if you like Clue, Knives Out, etc. it definitely will give you that vibe. I just found that it had some repetitive qualities for me and the plot itself is already starting to fade from my memory a couple of weeks later.

YA Mini Reviews: The Inheritance Game and MajestyMajesty (American Royals, #2) by Katharine McGee
Also by this author: American Royals (American Royals, #1), American Royals III: Rivals, Reign (American Royals #4)
Series: American Royals #2
Also in this series: American Royals III: Rivals
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on September 1, 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 384 •Format: E-BookSource: Overdrive

Power is intoxicating. Like first love, it can leave you breathless. Princess Beatrice was born with it. Princess Samantha was born with less. Some, like Nina Gonzalez, are pulled into it. And a few will claw their way in. Ahem, we're looking at you Daphne Deighton.

As America adjusts to the idea of a queen on the throne, Beatrice grapples with everything she lost when she gained the ultimate crown. Samantha is busy living up to her "party princess" persona...and maybe adding a party prince by her side. Nina is trying to avoid the palace--and Prince Jefferson--at all costs. And a dangerous secret threatens to undo all of Daphne's carefully laid "marry Prince Jefferson" plans.

A new reign has begun....

I was honestly so pleasantly surprised by this book. I am fascinated by the premise of this series and lived for all of the little made up tidbits of what an American monarchy would look like in the first book, but found the pace to be super slow and the characters rather flat. However, I wanted to carry on with the series (if for no other reason than I love the covers) and I’m so glad I did because this book was so much better.

For me, Majesty moved out of a lot of the cliche tropes that I found in the first book (especially in terms of the romances) and the characters started acting much more age appropriate (I always forget all of the characters are 18+/out of high school because the writing is very YA feeling). The stakes definitely felt higher (especially for Beatrice and Daphne) and I enjoyed seeing the characters struggle with, shall we say, more important matters (like the fate of the monarchy, being a young female ruler that’s untested by the nation, the repercussions of climbing the social ladder, etc). Minor spoiler, but there’s also several shifts in romantic relationships from the first book and it made so much more sense to me and also just emphasized that people change and grow and can come to the realization that they want different things in a partner as they get older. I was also really surprised that the author went sort of dark with the ending of one of the character’s story lines (but also applaud her for doing so! ACTIONS.HAVE.CONSEQUENCES).

Overall: I have no idea if there will be more books in this series but I really hope so because the series really hit its stride in this installment! I’d love to see the aftermath of the plethora of events that happened in the last 20% or so of the book, and would love to see more actual government happenings considering Beatrice is now queen. Honestly I think there’s so much more that can be done with this series (and the premise of alternate-reality America which I don’t think was explored enough tbh) and I hope we get at least one more book!


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