The minute I started reading The Inheritance Games, I realized it was a lot like another series I had read. Flipping back to the cover, I was surprised to find the name Jennifer Lynn Barnes staring back at me. Going back through the pages, I started to note all of the similarities between The Inheritance Games and Barnes’ other series, The Naturals. This got me thinking, are these books exactly the same?
Let’s start with our main girls, Avery Grambs, from The Inheritance Game and Cassie Hobbes from The Naturals. Both girls are normal 17-year-old, otherwise wallpaper girls in their small towns, who work at a small diner where they pick up the majority of the shifts for extra cash. Similar, but not similar enough to render this article, so what else do they have in common? Oh yeah, both of their mothers are dead. Cassie’s mother was murdered when Cassie was 12, and Avery’s mother died when she was 15. First big similarity: dead moms, check.
Both girls live their lives waiting for the day they can get out of their small towns and actually do something in the world. However, all of their plans come screeching to a halt when Handsome Boy #1 comes into the picture for each girl: boys who peak our main girls’ interests right from the start with a vague promise of either money or freedom. Avery is somehow in the will of a recently-deceased billionaire she never met, while Avery is on the list of recruitment from the FBI concerning her natural talent of reading people. The boys whisk our ladies away with a promise of a mystery, Avery to find out why she’s in some rich dead man’s will, and Cassie to join the FBI and look for her mother’s killer.
Our girls arrive in our secondary location with a lot of questions and little to no answers. But what they’re not lacking is the many people that they’re about to meet: The Smart One, the Mean Girl and let’s not forget, Handsome Boy #2.
Let’s start with our Mean Girls: Thea XXX from The Inheritance Games and Lia Zhang from The Naturals. The stereotypical mean girls hate the protagonist for one reason and one reason only: Handsome Boy #1 is interested in her. Being petty, they start to cause trouble for our Main Girls in the relationship department.
Next, we have the Smart Ones: Xander Hawthorne, from The Inheritance Games, and Sloane Tavish from The Naturals. Sloane is described as a “human computer,” better with numbers and facts than people, while Xander is a genius when it comes to science and robotics.
Now let’s get to the boys. Barnes has already gifted us with more than enough eye candy with Handsome Boy #1, but it never hurts to add Handsome Boy #2 in there as well. As expected, both boys are pining for our Main Girls’ affections and don’t like each other very much because of it. Therefore, our Ladies need to make a choice between the two boys, who happen to be the polar opposites of each other.
Starting with Handsome Boy #1: Grayson Hawthorne, from The Inheritance Games, and Dean Redding, from The Naturals are the stoic type who pushes everyone away as he thinks he’ll break everything he touches. His affections for our Main Girl are more reserved as he refuses to break her.
As for Handsome Boy #2: Jameson Hawthorne, from The Inheritance Games, and Michael Townsend, from The Naturals are boys who hide how broken they are with jokes and shameless flirting. They make their intentions very straight forward for our Main Ladies, holding nothing back when it comes to how much they like them.
Now that our cast has been introduced, the mystery begins. Avery is somehow the main beneficiary of a billion-dollar estate and company, leaving the deceased’s family with only a small amount of money and no one knows why, while Cassie is helping solve a string of murdered women, all of which look eerily similar to her.
As the mystery progresses, both boys compete for the Main Girl’s affections letting us as readers uncover their backstories and all the trauma they hold. In the end, our Main Girl is kind of manipulated into choosing between the two of them. Consider it a, “If you choose me, I’ll be healed, and if you don’t, I’ll fall apart” kind of thing.
Of course we can’t have that, so our Main Girls go through a cosmetic transformation to buy themselves some time, showing themselves how beautiful they really are.
Our mystery is solved! Wait, aren’t we only in the middle of the book? Odd, anyway! The mystery ends with the climax of our Main Girl getting hurt. Our boys are devastated and go all alpha male on each other, arguing about who deserves our Main Ladies’ affections because, “She almost died; I have to profess my love for her!”
Main Girl ends up breaking up the fight because, “I care for you both! Please don’t make me choose,” leaving Handsome Boy #2 to storm away in rage because of her refusal to choose.
Our Main Girl tries to explain her conflicted feelings to Handsome Boy #1, but he responds “It’s your choice, I’ll support you no matter what.” What a gentleman. Not it is time to go track down Handsome Boy #2 and explain the same thing. I hope he’s as respectful of her feelings as Handsome Boy #1. Spoiler alert, he’s not.
Handsome Boy #2’s still hopped up on testosterone from the fight and decides to just go for it and kiss our Main Girl. Because our Girl is stuck between the two boys, she enjoys the kiss until Handsome Boy #1 ends up walking in on them. Oh no! Our Main Girl can’t talk herself out of this one so easily.
Even more conflicted, our Main Girl goes off on her own and ends up finding another clue in the last five to ten pages, which sets Barnes up for another book that, let’s face it, you’re going to read because of the drama.
To answer the question: Are these books exactly the same? No, but the amount of similarities between the two of them are to prominent too prominent to ignore. In my opinion, if you’ve read one of these book, you’ve read the other.
Although this review may sound negative, I appreciate how Barnes lays everything out. It is a predictable course of events that helps give more attention to the mystery at hand, thus making it a fast-pace read that can get you out of a reading slump. I read both The Inheritance Games and The Naturals in about 5 hours and am now anxiously waiting for the second book in The Inheritance Games series (named The Hawthorne Legacy), coming in September 2021.
If you’d like a description with more details that still won’t spoil the The Inheritance Games or The Naturals, follow these links to their Goodreads pages. Or pick them up at your local bookstore or library. Happy reading, and may the games begin.