The Inheritance Games, Book 1

Book review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
The Inheritance Games, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Intriguing teen mystery has puzzles, twists but fizzles.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 12 reviews

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Educational Value

Puzzle-solving mystery meant to entertain, but readers can learn some puzzle-solving strategies.

Positive Messages

Overall messages are weak. Family loyalty is important, but the story emphasizes that it can be taken too far, and you have to learn when to do what's right even if it has a negative impact on a family member. There's a suggestion that you have to put the past behind you in order to move on, but it's not explored in much detail.

Positive Role Models

Avery's a positive role model for curiosity, integrity, perseverance, and teamwork. She's good at math and logic, and loves to play chess. She doesn't let sudden wealth change who she is or how she sees her place in the world, and she's very perceptive. Her sister Libby is a good model for empathy, but she's unable to end an abusive relationship. Most characters are mysterious, and the reader's meant to guess at their motives and whether they're telling the truth or not. In terms of representation, most characters are White, but an important character identifies as Black and is a genius at engineering and building. A character with an Asian last name (Liu) has hovering and very strict parents. A high-powered female attorney's last name suggests Latinx heritage. A minor character says she's bisexual.


A shooting leaves one character with a non-life-threatening injury from tree bark embedded in her skin. Pain is described and bleeding briefly mentioned. A woman is in a controlling, abusive relationship and appears with bruises and a black eye once. Mention that a mother hit her child in the past.


A few kisses and feelings of romantic attraction. An adult nude in the tub is mentioned but no parts are described. A dinner dish is described as "orgasmic."


A character uses creative sound-alike words instead of profanity, like "goat-dram, mother-faxing elf."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A teen is noticeably drunk a couple of times and models dangerous behavior. An adult asks a teen to pass some champagne, takes a long drink, and offers some to the teen, who declines. Tea with a large dose of whiskey is given to a teen to calm her nerves.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Inheritance Games is a mystery -- the first of a planned series -- with lots of puzzle solving and intrigue. When 16-year-old, Avery, learns that she's inherited $46 billion from a Texas oil tycoon she's never even heard of, she's whisked from Connecticut to Texas, only to learn she must jump through some serious hoops to get the inheritance -- including living in the dead man's family estate for a year. There's a shooting that results in a minor injury needing stitches. Pain is described and blood is mentioned. There are a couple of kisses and some feelings of romantic attraction. There's no strong language, but one character uses creative sound-alike words instead of profanity. A teen is noticeably drunk a couple of times and models dangerous behavior. Most of the characters are White, but there are positive representations of Black and Latinx characters.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bybj0000 January 11, 2021

Great read!

This book is a great, fast-paced read for someone looking for something to keep them on their toes. The story is wonderfully written, and our main character has... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byForever a Reader234 March 18, 2021

Could Not Put it Down!

This book was amazing, Jennifer Lynn Barnes did a fantastic job writing it! I was hooked from the very first page, and Avery (the main character, was very relat... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byBookhugger93 May 11, 2021

Amazing mystery and characters!

I LOVED THIS BOOK! It was one of the best mysteries I’ve read, I think 12 years and older is a good age for this book. There were just a few things.

Sex- feeli... Continue reading

What's the story?

THE INHERITANCE GAMES is about 16-year-old Avery, who lives with her older sister Libby in Connecticut. Since their parents are gone, it's just the two of them, and money is tight, to say the least. In a bolt out of the blue, Avery learns that she's inherited $46 billion from a Texas oil tycoon she's never even heard of. She and Libby are quickly whisked off to Texas, where they learn that in order to get the inheritance Avery will have to live in Tobias Hawthorne's palatial home for a year. Which might sound pretty ideal, except she'll have to live there with Tobias' family, who don't hide their resentment of Avery. Determined to find out why the money was left to her, Avery starts following clues and puzzles Tobias left behind. With her every step of the way are Tobias' grandsons. Each one has a past, each one has secrets, and each one has a reason to want Avery dead.

Is it any good?

This is an intriguing and compelling mystery that puzzle-lovers will especially enjoy. The Inheritance Games is populated with well-developed, colorful, and believable characters readers will enjoy trying to figure out. The setting of a rambling family estate is vividly realized and readers will enjoy imagining themselves moving through it. All of which keep the pages turning as readers enjoy solving the clues, puzzles, and turns along with Avery and the Hawthorne brothers. The ending is pretty weak, but readers can hope that it leaves the door open for further mysteries in this planned series.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about role models in The Inheritance Games. Is Avery a positive role model? What are her character strengths and weaknesses?

  • What about the other characters? Are they realistic? Did you notice any stereotypes?

  • Why are mysteries so popular? What do we love about them? What are some of your favorites?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love mysteries

Themes & Topics

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