Friday, January 17, 2020

Book Review | If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

If We Were Villains M.L Rio

Title: If We Were Villains
Author: M.L Rio
Genres: Dark Academia, Contemporary, Adult, Mystery
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Flatiron Books

If We Were Villains Book Review

The story begins when Oliver, the main character, is being released from prison. Oliver agrees to talk to Joe Colborne who is the cop that arrested him 10 years ago. Colborne always thought there was more to the story than Oliver let on and he wants to hear the truth. Oliver agrees to tell him what happened that led to him being arrested.

The story jumps from this timeline to flashbacks 10 years ago when Oliver studies at the fictional Dellecher Shakespeare Conservatory College, the story follows him and his group of friends: Filippa, Alexander, Margaret, Richard, Wren, and James in the 4th year as they participate in various Shakespeare plays, they all share a common love of acting and Shakespeare. 

A tragic night leads to the death of one of Oliver's friends and the group makes a crucial decision that leads each of them down a destructive path. Each character deals with the aftermath of the death in different ways: whether it’s Wren who shuts off completely, Filippa who is trying to look after everyone, Alexander who turns to drugs, and James whose behavior changes from someone who used to be kind and nice to angry and unpredictable.


The book is written in Acts (like in a play) some of the dialogue is even written like a play. The book features scenes from different Shakespeare plays as the characters act in them. They are rehearsing for plays and discussing which role each of them deserves.
I think the book balanced well the everyday life the characters go through and the murder-mystery plot. I am not a Shakespeare expert but the fact that the book was written this way felt very fitting to the tone and idea of the story. It was different from most books I read but I felt like the story flowed smoothly and I didn’t struggle through it. 

Characters And Relationships

Oliver is the Narrator of the story so of course, I asked myself: Is he likable? Do I root for him? 
The answer was: Sometimes! Even though I didn’t relate to him as a character I thought he was a good narrator and I enjoyed seeing the story through his eyes. Except for one scene that really bothered me, when Oliver went to visit his family and he treated his sister in such a poor way! At that moment I truly disliked him. I suppose this book isn’t about likable characters. All of them make morally questionable choices. So I guess I enjoyed the plot and mystery more than I enjoyed the characters. I do think the dynamic between the group of friends was well-written and felt very genuine.

The most fascinating relationship for me was between James and Oliver who were roommates. I can’t talk about it too much because I don’t want to spoil things but their relationship was tense, genuine, and unpredictable. James was another interesting character, At first, I felt like I knew what would happen with him but then it took a completely different direction. I love it when a story can surprise me!

One of my dislikes in the book is the way the female characters were written. I felt like they were somewhat one-dimensional. Even Margaret who we know the most about wasn’t my favorite, at too many points in her story the focus was her love life and not much else. I know the story is told from Oliver’s POV but I still think that characters like James and Alexander, for example, went through more of an interesting journey.

In Conclusion

I enjoyed reading this book a lot! though it is not perfect I still found it difficult to put it down because I wanted to know what happens next and how the mystery will be solved. It's sort of  How to Get Away with Murder meets Shakespeare and I loved the atmosphere and suspense, I didn't expect that twist at the end! The book managed to surprise me so I'm giving it 4.5/5 stars.

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Let me know your thoughts about the book if you read it and if not let me know if you want to!


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