Inherit Midnight -- Kate Kae Myers
2015 Release -- Bloomsbury
Young Adult, Mystery, Romance Adventure, Thriller
Despite the fact that Inherit Midnight had its fair share of mediocrity and flaws and loose ends, it was a very enjoyable book because it was just tons of fun!
If I had one criticism about this book though, it would probably be the fact that Inherit Midnight isn't a very memorable book, nor a very outstanding book.
It was a lot more entertaining than I had expected considering the slightly slow start it had with Avery's introduction. While it seemed like those first few chapters might have been important in establishing a setting as well as Avery's state-of-mind when we first meet her, I kind of feel like it could have been a bit condensed. But then it flew right by and we dove into the not-so-friendly VanDemere family competition and things just kept moving forward from there.
Avery VanDemere is the outcast of her family, a group of stereotypical, money-greedy, snobby, and entitled rich brats. Because she was "born from a scandal" that her entire family and her Grandmother says could blemish the family name, she's always been treated poorly and has never felt like she belonged. The VanDemere's come from a long history of wealth and reputation. Justine VanDemere, Avery's grandmother, is the current matriarch who, according to back story, has spent her life worried that her children and grandchildren would drift down the wrong road and become a bunch of no-good money-grubbers who will only end up squandering the family fortune and shaming the family name.
Then Avery is born from an affair between Preston VanDemere and "the nanny".
On top of that, as the years go by, Justine VanDemere's children and grandchildren all show that they've become the spoiled, rich, entitled brats she has always feared they would become.
And so in an effort to teach her family a lesson as well as create an opportunity to choose the best member to inherit her fortune in the future, Justine VanDemere creates an elaborate Inheritance Challenge that all of her potential heirs must participate in to prove their worth. The last heir standing will inherit all of her estate, her business, her assets, and her money.
But with a group of merciless and selfish relatives, the stakes for these games just seem to be a little higher than what Dearest Grandmother might have bargained for.
As for Avery, it seems that despite not being too intent on the financial inheritance of the VanDemere estate, she has learned something about her own past that motivates her to fight as hard as she can to complete all of these challenges. Apparently, her long-thought dead mother was never dead and still very much wants to meet her; and the road to discovering more about this new knowledge will only be revealed to her as she continues on in this challenge.
Like I said, the book was a lot of exciting fun; but once you get the chance to stop and think about it, it's not like Inherit Midnight was entirely special or unique. The concept is intriguing, the progress smooth and continuous, and the writing style and narration were done very well. The book itself isn't entirely too memorable in the long run even if it is well-written.
Avery is a spunky heroine, resourceful, intelligent, though not without her flaws. Of course, she's also a pretty predictably good-natured, kindhearted, and righteous girl-next-door type of heroine. If not for her personal back history, her interactions with Riley, as well as the interesting premise of an Inheritance Challenge running the show, I'm not sure she would have stood out very much.
In fact, aside from a bunch of nasty, snobby, rich relatives, none of the other characters really stand out at all.
Riley's sweet and good, but he's a standard male hero who stands by our heroine's side throughout the entire book. Don't get me wrong. I liked Riley, I liked Avery, I liked their cute little, slowly developing romance. In fact, I kind of liked that there wasn't too much emphasis placed on the romance or even any unnecessary angsty situations. Between Avery's own past turmoil and the Inheritance Challenge games and the looming threat of nasty relatives who will do anything to win the game, we didn't need any more conflict.
And so it was kind of nice that Inherit Midinight was able to remain focused where the focus needed to be.
Everything just felt kind of lukewarm, from the relationships, to the revelations, to the individual characters themselves as well as their interactions. But that's not to say that I didn't enjoy the relationship between Avery and Riley--they were sweet, adorable, they stood on equal footing, and they made an excellent team, both as friends, teammates, and romantic partners.
But there's little else to say about it.
A few asides, though:
- Rich people really know how to play their fancy games.
While it was a lot of fun to follow, it didn't escape me just how unnecessarily extravagant and elaborate Grandmother Dearest had set up her stipulations for becoming the last heir standing. I'm not one to dwell on the past, and while it's good to know where your roots come from, it seems that Justine VanDemere was so stubborn and set in her traditional ways and her irrational thinking that she didn't see the present for what it was.
She spouted values, but told the biggest lie of all. She becomes so disappointed in her children and grandchildren for leading lives that she does not approve of, without considering that maybe her own ideals are outdated.
The entire Inheritance Challenge didn't really seem to serve much purpose aside from being an interesting game to follow along with. I'm not sure that half the values she'd hoped to instill in her children and grandchildren even got their messages across.
She notes that she's disappointed in Avery for being so rebellious, but then she keeps the poor girl at arms length and doesn't bother even considering how Avery must be feeling. It's not hard for others in the family to pick up the same vibes when the matriarch of the family doesn't even treat her own granddaughter fairly. And I'm reluctant to believe that Grandmother VanDemere had no idea that Avery was being treated like crap by her cousins all these years.
To be honest, there were so many more messed up problems in the VanDemere family than simply a bunch of greedy, entitled heirs.
- I never understood what was so bad about the boarding school, St. Fredericks, that Avery had been sent to. I get that there are horrible kids there that treat Avery like crap and teachers who are two-faced. But that's pretty much common place for a lot of schools anyway.
Except that Avery had this big long list of reasons why St. Fredericks is a terrible school... and everyone else agrees with her about that big long list. But the reader never actually finds out what was so bad about St. Fredericks.
Of course, it's not like it was a big deal since St. Fredericks existence is moot besides being a background factor in why Avery wants to win the competition so badly. With this "terrible boarding school" lingering as her fate if she should lose out the competition, it made for a good springboard in Avery's determination. At least part of it.
- I can't seem to reconcile the book's cover art with the actual story line. I'm not sure if this is an issue, but the girl wearing a red trench coat running against a sleek blue background made me think that this adventure would involve more cyber puzzles and technologically savvy challenges. I never expected history lessons, honestly.
- I'm a hundred percent in agreement with Avery. If the VanDemere family is how family is always going to be, then she's better off doing without them. These relatives of hers are just a bit insane, and I'd just as soon be far, far away from them for the rest of my life without any contact unless it's through bulletproof glass. With cousins and uncles like that, who really NEEDS true enemies.
Final Thoughts: I really did find solid enjoyment in Inherit Midnight. It was well-written, exciting, and didn't have any boring moments with the continuous forward progression. The completion of one challenge immediately took the characters right into the next challenge. It reminded me of a certain Korean game show that involves a bunch of people completing one mission after another to find the ultimate prize at the end. Except, games like these are probably a lot more fun if your competitors aren't trying to get you killed.
I'm a little disappointed that Chase doesn't get his comeuppance because with the behavior he exhibited, I'd rather see that psychotic, conscience-less, little monster behind bars than running around the streets. It'll only be a matter of time before he actually gets someone killed, whether he means to do so or not.
Keeping quiet about the two attempted murders Chase VanDemere committed against Avery shouldn't be something ignored and I find it strange that neither of these two acts were brought up. This wasn't just a case of "Avery being bullied" because in both situations, either Chase is a complete dumbass or he knew what he was doing when he intended to A) leave Riley and Avery stranded in the diamond mines to rot and die, and B) shoot Avery in the temple with a paintball gun which would have seriously damaged her even if not killed her outright.
Either way, that is very dangerous behavior that needs to be addressed rather than blown off.
Avery and Riley were a delight to follow and made a pretty good team, though a lot of their work can be attributed to the law firm's research team on stand-by.
If it's one thing that really bugged me about this book, however:
The rest of the VanDemere relatives didn't seem to really learn any lessons. You don't get to see them punished for being nasty, you don't get to see them get scolded, and you just don't feel like Avery really got much justice aside from winning the competition and wrangling an apology out of her grandmother then finally being granted the freedom from strict rules she's always wanted.
The rest of the VanDemeres really just get a slap on the wrist without truly atoning for their wrongs. They still act like entitled brats and I think Justine VanDemere's little games might have made things worse. But then again, maybe that's more realistic than everyone suddenly realizing the error of their ways and trying to make the VanDemere line better for it.