Teen Book Reviews: This is Our Story & The Inheritance Games

Teens: did you know that you can earn community service credit for writing a book review and submitting it to us? Today, we’ll hear from two teens who did just that. Find out more about how to earn community service hours from home at cheshirelibrary.org/teens/.

This is Our Story by Ashley Elston. Reviewed by Kathleen H.

If you like murder mysteries with some romance, this one’s for you. The book opens with five best friends who are on a hunting trip, yet only four of them are still alive. When the four alive boys look at their group’s leader, Grant Perkins, sprawled out dead with a rifle’s bullet hole in his chest, they are all in complete shock and panic, not sure which of their friends shot him, or if it was even an accident. With each boy about to turn on each other, all in fear of going to jail, our mystery narrator assures his three friends that they’ll all be fine if they stick together. He then tells them “their story”–what they’ll say to the police, lawyers, judges, the media, and even their families–in order to not accidentally rat out the killer or make themselves look guilty with inconsistent accounts of what happened.

The book then flashes to the main character’s perspective, Kate, who has a senior internship at the District Attorney’s office, and who’s boss has been handed the murder case. The more and more she digs into the evidence in the case file, the more is revealed about each boy’s personal stakes in Grant’s murder. Throughout her investigation, we also learn more about her personal ties to Grant’s murder, and the resulting guilt she holds. This novel is fast paced and easy to read in big chunks, with readers wanting to learn more about the case, and even the romance that arises. Plus, it deals with relevant issues such as how much the wealthy can get away with, and the sway that privileged people have on the justice system. Most importantly, the novel is one that genuinely keeps readers wondering “who did it?” until the bitter end, while still maintaining a sense of realism in its plot twists.

5 stars.

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Reviewed by Ella K.

The Inheritance Games is a mystery book written by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. The book begins by introducing the reader to Avery Grambs, a witty and compassionate student who lives with her sister, Libby, and her sister’s abusive boyfriend. While Avery works to get out of that situation and go to college, she unexpectedly finds herself thrown into a familial battle after the passing of famous billionaire Tobias Hawthorne. Despite not knowing him or having anything to do with him, Avery has been left as almost the sole inheritor of his fortune. The catch? She has to live at the Hawthorne mansion for a year.

Tobias’s relatives, including his four grandsons, upset that a stranger robbed them of their inheritance, treat Avery with contempt throughout the duration of her stay, until one of them, Jameson Hawthorne approaches Avery with a proposition. He thinks that Tobias had something up his sleeve and enlists Avery to help him solve the puzzle. The book follows Avery as she deals with her newfound fame and wealth, while also avoiding the not so pure intentions of the other Hawthornes.

This book brought me back to the puzzle books of my childhood, reminding me specifically of The Mysterious Benedict Society. The book was much more complex than that series, but the riddles and puzzles that the author writes were just as enticing. The newfound fame aspect was also an interesting concept to read about. My problem with this book is its ending. All of the major twists of the plot felt like they were shoved into the end of the book. It was a little bit confusing at times and that confusion almost undermined the twist that the author was going for. Despite this, the book is well written and well worth the read for anyone who enjoys puzzles and mystery books.

4 stars.

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