Inherit Midnight, by Kate Kae Myers

>> Tuesday, October 30, 2018

TITLE: Inherit Midnight
AUTHOR: Kate Kae Myers

PAGES: 390
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury

SETTING: Contemporary, various locations around the world
TYPE: Fiction

The Competition

Seventeen-year-old Avery VanDemere's ridiculously wealthy grandmother has decided to leave the family fortune to the relative who proves him or herself worthiest--by solving puzzles and riddles on a whirlwind race around the globe.

The Contenders

For Avery, the contest offers a chance to escape. As the black sheep of the VanDemere clan--the illegitimate daughter, sent away to boarding school--she'd love to use that prize money to run away from the family who ostracized her . . . and discover the truth about her long-lost mother.

Marshall might be Avery's uncle by blood, but there's no love lost between them. He'll do anything to win, even if it means turning on his own children.

Riley is the charming son of Grandmother VanDemere's lawyer. As the game progresses, Avery finds herself drawn to him--even though she isn't quite sure she can trust him.

The Winner?

Treacherous turns in the competition serve as brutal reminders that only one person can win it all. Is Avery willing to risk both her heart and her life to claim the grand prize?
Oh, so conflicted about this one!

On one hand, it is super fun. The plot is basically an Amazing Race-type competition. Avery VanDemere's family is extremely wealth (and pretty disfunctional). Her grandmother has decided to have all her potential heirs compete for a chance to inherit the family fortune. To do that, they'll have to travel round the world, solving puzzles and completing challenges. All of these have some connection to family history, so those relatives who have taken an interest in that will have an advantage.

Avery is not that fussed about the inheritance, but her grandmother sweetens the deal. Not only will she be able to leave the horrible boarding school where she is stuck now, she will also be given information about her mother the more she progresses with the challenges. Avery was taken away from her by her grandmother and has been given almost no information about who she was. She's desperate to know more, so she'll play the game. She'll be helped by Riley, son of the family lawyer, a guy only slightly older than her. So clearly, there's a bit of potential romance as well.

So, you need to suspend disbelief pretty vigorously, but if you do, the plot is fun. The challenges are creative and cool and it was fun to travel round the world with Avery. The characters are kind of preposterous, but I could get over that. And Avery is clever and resourceful, and I loved all the different ways in which she bested her competitors.

All that said, this book is immensely problematic. Basically, the supposedly responsible adults behave disgustingly. Avery's grandmother, Justine, vile and pathetic in equal measures.

She's vile for what's she's done to Avery, from stealing her from her mother (using her money and power to basically bully a young woman horrifically) to isolate her from every single other child other than her bullying cousins (and completely ignoring that bullying, even though it must have been obvious), to sending her to a frankly abusive boarding school (she supposedly didn't know about that, but seriously, it was more that she didn't want to know, IMO). I did NOT want this horrible person to get what she wants out of the competition. I wanted her to be told to go fuck herself. While there is some recognition of the unacceptableness of Justine's behaviour, it wasn't enough. She mostly gets away with it, albeit with Avery taking her to task a little bit. But then, I would not have been truly satisfied with anything less than Justine being put in jail for child abuse.

Her patheticness is not dealt with at all. Justine is pathetic because she's pathologically obsessed with the family history. It's all about how the family must be proud about what their ancestors did, and that is basically all that makes the family important and valuable. They're better than everyone else because they can trace their ancestors and those ancestors were people who did important things. Sorry, but having amazing ancestors says nothing at all about how valuable you are. Rather than being called out on this unhealthy obsession, this is more or less validated, with Avery feeling that the competition has worked wonders in helping her appreciate where she's come from, etc.

Riley's father, the family lawyer, also behaves abominably, IMO. He's implementing Justine's wishes with the info about Avery's mother, but seems to have some latitude in how he does so. So this is a grown-up man who consciously manipulates a 17-year-old girl by withholding information about her long-lost mother and using it to get her to do what he wants. It's all about his business. Sorry, but no. I wasn't crazy about the romance, because of that. Riley seems nice and does seem to care about Avery, but he's working with his father, knowing exactly what his father is doing. I lost a lot of respect for him for playing that game.

MY GRADE: This was a B- for me, a mix of the fun I had while reading it and trying not to think of the problematic issues and the appallingness of those issues.


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