If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio (Review by James B. ’24)

If We Were VillainsIf We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have a love-hate relationship with this book, but if I didn’t give it five stars I would be lying to you as well as to myself. It’s a battering-ram to the mind and I loved every minute of it, consuming the entire thing in a single sitting on a five-hour flight.

If We Were Villains is the epic, dark-academia story of a class of seven students at an elite arts school, studying and performing Shakespeare. The story is told by Oliver Marks ten years later, after serving prison time, as he recounts what really happened that year to a detective.

Through his testimony, we learn how an obsessive group of actors began to fulfill their roles off stage, spiraling into violence, betrayal, and murder.

This book is deliciously indulgent, especially for those of us who like some Shakespearean levels of drama. I felt super engaged in pretty much all of the characters, and ravenously followed the twists and turns of the story.

Honestly, If We Were Villains was out of my comfort zone. I don’t usually read thriller/mystery books because I find them too predictable, and while I wouldn’t read this book if you’re expecting a breathtaking twist, it’s so fun to read I didn’t even mind that it was a bit predictable. I would recommend this for anyone who likes melodrama and strong characters, and more specifically those who love found family even more when it’s a little toxic.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“For someone who loved words as much as I did, it was amazing how often they failed me.”

“You can justify anything if you do it poetically enough.”

“What is more important, that Caesar is assassinated or that he is assassinated by his intimate friends? … That,’ Frederick said, ‘is where the tragedy is.”

“I never asked where he went, worried he wouldn’t ask me to follow.”

“How could we explain that standing on a stage and speaking someone else’s words as if they are your own is less an act of bravery than a desperate lunge at mutual understanding?”

Happy reading! –Review by James B. ’24

View all my reviews

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s