Goodreads: The Hawthorne Legacy
Series: Inheritance Games #2
Age Category: Young Adult
Published: December 2021
Avery thinks now that she might know why Tobias Hawthorne left her his fortune. But does she? The old man left another puzzle, this one suggesting that his long-lost son Toby is alive. And, if that’s true, Avery stands to lose everything she just gained.
I have to admit that I have confused and conflicted feelings about the second book in the Inheritance Games trilogy. While book one ended with a shocking cliffhanger–and a promise that this would be Xander’s game–The Hawthorne Legacy throws all of that away. Calling the book a “mystery” seems inaccurate, as there are few clues and few twists and turns, just Avery and her friends following a trail to a predetermined conclusion. And Xander? He conveniently fades into the background, so Avery can take over the game once more. The Hawthorne Legacy is entertaining, but it is not particularly clever or exciting. Read it if you love the characters, but not if you were hoping for something sleuthy.
Initially, I picked up book one in this series because reviews made it sound like a puzzle-solving thriller. That was barely true of book one, but certainly not true of The Hawthorne Legacy. Avery and her friends simply follow a trail laid out for them by Tobias Hawthorne, with very few red herrings, mistakes, or surprising twists. They have a good guess about what is happening early on and are simply on a mission to find evidence for their hunch. Expect no real shocks here. Additionally, none of the clues are that hard to figure out, and it seems silly that Avery and her friends often take so long to solve a clue when they are all supposed to be so incredibly intelligent.
The characters are probably what will keep most fans of the book reading, but those fans will have to be content with the continuing love triangle. Love triangles are usually bad enough, but it worse here because two of the participants are brothers and, well, that is more than a little icky. Avery spends a lot of the book making out with Jameson, wondering about Grayson, and trying to decide if she is actually willing to get close to someone or if she is allowed to, as Max would say, just have fun without worrying about making a commitment. (Which actually seems unfair to the two boys wanting to win her heart, since I read them both as being serious and wanting more than a fling.) One needs some suspension of disbelief to accept that Avery’s life is in danger, but her biggest worry is about which boy she ought to be kissing.
I was actually really excited for this book because the finale of book one suggested that it would focus on Xander, Thea, and Rebecca teaming up to win the game. Having new focal characters was exciting! I was highly disappointed, then, to realize that the book is still narrated by Avery and that Xander gets shoved aside by Avery and Jameson as they take over the puzzle. Xander happily lets them. Frankly, I think Xander would be a more likable character than Avery, so this is a shame.
And my criticism of book one, where the narrator seems to think readers are not clever enough to deduce anything on their own? That still happens here. Avery describes a scene or reads a clue, then breaks it down into small sentences, then gives readers the conclusion. This happens even a puzzle is not involved. For instance, when Avery happens upon two people kissing, she will say something like, “X had Y pressed up against the wall. Her hands were in Y’s hair. Their clothes were tousled. They were…kissing.” As if readers could not have figured out they were kissing from the five sentences previously describing the kiss. It makes Avery seem none too bright that she has to overthink everything before coming to the obvious conclusion, but it also makes it seem like the narrator thinks the readers need everything spelled out, too. Maybe it does not help that I listened to the audiobook, and the narrator always makes Avery seems so surprised.
The book ends by wrapping up pretty much all the questions from book one, so book three honestly feels kind of optional at this point, unless there is some big reveal throwing into question what we learned about Avery’s past. From what I gathered, book three will focus on [potential spoiler] finding two of the Hawthorne brother’s fathers. [end spoiler] To me, that makes book three a fun bonus for fans of the series. But, I am baffled that the author would wrap up all the big, main questions before the series is actually over.
Final verdict? A good book for fans who just want more of the Hawthorne brothers. But not an edge-of-your seat mystery or thriller.