Review of Audiobook The Headmaster’s List by Melissa de la Cruz @macmillanaudio

For a novel that initially annoyed me, The Headmaster’s List ended on a good note. Read on.

Blurb: This audiobook contains collaboratively recorded podcasts and interview segments from within the world of The Headmaster’s List.

One of Us Is Lying meets Riverdale in The Headmaster’s List, an edge-of-your-seat YA thriller about a fatal car crash and the dangerous lengths one teen will go to uncover the truth about what really happened.

Friday night. The party of the summer. Four teens ride home together. Only one never makes it.

When high school sophomore Chris Moore is tragically killed in a car crash, Armstrong Prep is full of questions. Who was at the wheel? And more importantly, who was at fault?

Eighteen-year-old Spencer Sandoval wishes she knew. As rumors swirl that her ex, Ethan, was the reckless driver, she can’t bring herself to defend him. And their messy breakup has nothing to do with it–she can’t remember anything from that night, not even what put her in that car with Ethan, Chris, and Tabby Hill, the new loner in school.

The hunt for answers intensifies when a local true crime podcast takes an interest in the case, pushing Spencer further into the depths of this sinister mystery. Was it all just a night out that went very wrong? And is it a coincidence that all but Chris is on Armstrong’s esteemed honor roll, the Headmaster’s List? In a place ruled by pedigree and privilege, the truth can only come at a deadly price.

Set against the glitz and glamour of an elite LA private school, Melissa de la Cruz’s first YA thriller is an addictive mystery perfect for fans of Gossip Girl and A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder.

A Macmillan Audio production from Roaring Brook Press.

Purchase Links:
Amazon | Shop your local indie bookstore

One thing I’ve learned after almost seven years of book blogging is–no, not that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover; I already knew that 😉 –that if a book annoys you at the beginning, hang on because things might change. Only in a handful of cases has this proven to be untrue. And, you know what? That’s a good thing. So, yes, this audiobook possessed a number of things that annoyed me. A few went away and, well, some didn’t.

The Headmaster’s List is narrated by a group, which is usually a good thing. It’s kind of like listening to a play. However, some of these voices sounded like thirty-somethings rather than teenagers and drew me out of the novel in a bad way. One voice sounded completely unprofessional and by that I mean, it sounded like it could have been me making that voice and no one wants to hear me trying to sound like a teenager. So unfortunately this was not the best audiobook I’ve ever listened to, not the worst, but unfortunately in the lower half because of the narration.

Now let’s talk about the book itself.

Spencer Sandoval was seriously injured in a car accident. Ethan Amoroso, the driver was her boyfriend, or ex-, rather, by the end of the party they just attended. Also in the car was Sophomore, Chris Moore, everyone’s kid brother, who died, and Tabby Hill. Spencer can’t remember anything except for the flashbacks that come intermittently. From the flashbacks, Spencer gleans that something isn’t right about the accident. Something about the images that she just can’t put her finger on. But what is it? With the help of Jackson Chan, Ethan’s best friend, Spencer begins to seek answers.

I had to keep telling myself that this was a novel and had to suspend belief because one of the first things that Spencer does after leaving the hospital and deciding to return to school with a broken wrist and clavicle is decide that she’s going to ride her bike to school. Mind you, her parents are vets, thus have medical knowledge, and I’m certain that any doctor and hospital would have a discharge list of don’ts. It is very difficult to imagine that activities like riding a bike wouldn’t be on that list of don’ts plus the fact that her parents should know better. In conjunction with that, I personally hated the fact that she makes her service dog, Ripley, run alongside her for miles and miles. I mean Ripley is the best character in the novel, seriously, but shouldn’t be put through that. So that’s a major grump from the beginning of the novel.

Now, I also had to remind myself that The Headmaster’s List has been written for teenagers who love angst. I probably did then too but now? Not so much. But this one is geared for teenagers so the angst is appropriate.

Once I got beyond those things, the story of The Headmaster’s List began to draw me in as Spencer searches for answers to that night. Her relationship with Jackson is very sweet, as is the way he looks out for her as they uncover things about their classmates and discover just how many secrets are floating around.

Amidst this, podcaster Peyton Salt (a teenager who in the narration sounds so much older) who is known for true crime takes on Ethan’s story because he represents everything that she deems wrong with the world and Armstrong Prep in particular. Unfortunately, I don’t know for sure whether it was the narration that made these sections not work for me or because they just sounded like sensationalist filler, but I’ll just give my opinion: ugh. How does Peyton manage, however, to get a hold of police reports when Spencer can’t?

The Headmaster’s List has a lot going on and after a while, the reader/listener can’t help but be swept up in the mystery. In fact, I was startled by the ending, the person who committed the crime, although not exactly their motive. This does not happen often so kudos to Melissa de la Cruz. I do like to be surprised!

I would suggest that overall the The Headmaster’s List audiobook is definitely more geared toward teenagers who will probably appreciate all aspects. In this case would I have been happier reading the book rather than listening? I suspect so.

I received an audiobook copy from Macmillan Audio in exchange for an honest review.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.