Warning: Spoilers ahead for the “Inheritance Games” series.
The highly anticipated final book in the “Inheritance Games” trilogy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes will be released in August. In “The Final Gambit,” readers will finally receive the conclusion to the mystery of the deceased billionaire Tobias Hawthorne, his four enigmatic grandsons and Avery Grambs — a broke teenager with seemingly no connection to the Hawthornes who has inherited Tobias’ estate, while his family was left high and dry. As a condition of Avery’s inheritance, she’s required to live in the house with the Hawthorne brothers for a year, which proves to be challenging.
The synopsis of “The Final Gambit” teases, “As the clock ticks down to the moment when Avery will become the richest teenager on the planet, trouble arrives in the form of a visitor who needs her help — and whose presence in Hawthorne House could change everything. It soon becomes clear that there is one last puzzle to solve, and Avery and the Hawthorne brothers are drawn into a dangerous game against an unknown and powerful player. Secrets upon secrets. Riddles upon riddles. In this game, there are hearts and lives at stake — and there is nothing more Hawthorne than winning.”
It’s also been announced that Amazon is developing “The Inheritance Games” TV series, co-produced by Barnes. There is no information on this adaptation yet, but fans are already mentally casting the actors to bring these beloved characters to life. Among the names tossed out are Elle Fanning, Sadie Sink, Sam Claflin, Louis Partridge and Freddy Carter. Whoever fulfills these roles, one thing is for sure: They have to maintain the lovable quality that each of these characters has — particularly the Hawthorne brothers Jameson, Nash, Grayson and Xander, who only share the same zany mother.
Each brother has a distinctive personality that makes him fun to read. The oldest brother Nash has a drawling Southern accent and a savior complex. He currently has a romance with Avery’s sister, which Avery has her suspicions about, knowing he enjoys trying to “fix” women who seem in need of help.
Grayson is brooding, practical and initially the most resistant to Avery’s inheritance of the estate. Initially vocal about his suspicions, all based on a need to protect his family, Grayson eventually comes to vie for Avery’s heart along with Jameson. Jameson is charismatic, playful and determined to solve whatever puzzles arise. He teasingly calls Avery “heiress” and upon meeting her, greets her with riddles.
Lastly, the youngest, Xander, provides comic relief. He’s hilarious, innovative and has an affinity for eating scones. The brothers love each other fiercely while simultaneously competing with one another. They have been pitted against each other all their lives by Tobias Hawthorne, who turns everything into a competition where only wit can help them win.
Barnes is no stranger to crafting such compelling characters, especially for a young adult audience. Her first YA series, “The Naturals,” also featured a lovable cast of characters. Sloane is brilliant, literal, and prone to blurting out random factoids when stressed. Lia is the tough-as-nails human lie detector with a dark past. Michael is a privileged emotion-reader who rarely lets his own emotions show aside from sarcasm and quick quips. Dean is the stoic son of a serial killer who can easily read people, and Cassie is another natural at reading people whose mother was murdered when she was young.
Because they possess special skills, these teens are brought together under a “Gifted” program to aid the FBI in cracking cold cases. “The Naturals” series resembles the “Inheritance Games” trilogy in that there is a love triangle and the same riveting characters who make us laugh and want more.
Barnes is an expert at pulling at readers’ heartstrings and getting them to root for her characters, who have fascinating and layered backstories. At the same time, readers become invested in the love triangles she creates with passionate adoration for both male suitors that ultimately keeps readers turning the pages, eager for more. The drama of her high-stakes plots is a large part of why her novels are so enticing. However, it’s her characters that drive these plots: They’re relatable, funny, nuanced and above all, interesting.
It seems like in “The Hawthorne Legacy,” the sequel to “The Inheritance Games,” Avery made her romantic choice: Jameson over Grayson. However, as all devoted readers know, the third book in the trilogy is there to shake things up, and at this point, anything is possible. Even if Avery and Jameson find their relationship to be strained, I hope that they will eventually find their way back.
Avery is the kind of character to whom life has not been kind from a young age. Her dad is a deadbeat, her mom passed away and her sister has a habit of trusting the wrong people. Jameson, who in contrast grew up with everything, challenges Avery. He makes her laugh. He makes her heart race. He makes her think twice and at the end of the day, he intentionally chooses her.
In “The Hawthorne Legacy,” Avery is in a coma for a week after a bomb is planted on the plane she’s about to board. While still out of it, Avery hears Jameson yelling at Grayson for not running toward her when he witnesses the explosion. Once she recovers, she tells Grayson that she is not angry at him for his paralysis because she’s spent her “entire life not running toward anyone.”
Yet, Avery concludes that it is time for her to be bold and pursue what she wants. In the last scene, Jameson and Avery are on a rooftop together when Avery kisses him, suggesting Avery will now do just that. Just like in “The Inheritance Games” when Jameson stood in front of her to shield her from a mystery shooter, Jameson protects and fights for Avery, which is exactly what she needs. I cannot wait for the third and final book for Barnes’ characters to once more steal my heart.