If We Were Villains
by M.L Rio
Paperback, 422 pages
Published June 13th 2017 by Titan Books Ltd
Oliver Marks has just served ten years for a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day of his release, he is greeted by the detective who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, and he wants to know what really happened a decade before.
As a young actor at an elite conservatory, Oliver noticed that his talented classmates seem to play the same characters onstage and off – villain, hero, temptress – though he was always a supporting role. But when the teachers change the casting, a good-natured rivalry turns ugly, and the plays spill dangerously over into real life.
When tragedy strikes, one of the seven friends is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless…
If We Were Villains is one of those hyped up books about anti-heroes (aside from The Secret History and Vicious) that I’ve seen again and again on my timeline. It’s also been staring at me a lot from its shelf in the bookstore, so I caved and bought it. Despite having been spoiled of the ending and who actually did it in general, it still managed to blew me away.
I honestly have no idea how to review this book as every time I think about it, I lost the ability to form coherent ideas, so here’s a quick list of the things I liked and not from the book.
What I Liked
- The vibe. This is like, one of the biggest influence this book have at me. I always love reading about books with boarding school setting, but this book really take it to another level! Yes they are super elite and pretentious af, but beyond that the way they love Shakespeare so much is really interesting. Plus, from the reaction of the faculties, you can tell that they actually care about the students as a person, not just academically or professionally.
- The friendship. The way it was written and the exclusivity it presents really pulls you in. Their love, and arguably, loyalty towards each other made them more of a family than friends.
- The layers of complexities surrounding the characters. None of the characters in this book are simple. From the OG seven (Oliver, James, Alexander, Wren, Richard, Filippa, and Meredith) to the teachers, they are all felt human.
- The romance. HE LOVES HIM HE LOVES HIM NOT. WHICH ONE IS IT.
- The stress, guilt, and fear. It’s not nice feeling those things but the writing made you fell ALL OF THEM while reading, together with our beloved characters.
- James, who felt like Gansey from the Raven Cycle, only if he became a morally gray person.
- Filippa, the overlooked one in the group and arguably, also by the author as she doesn’t have enough pages, that continues to deliver surprises.
- Oliver and Wren, the super nice cinnamon roll that deserves all the hugs in the world.
- Meredith, with her confidence and also fears of being overlooked because of her beauty.
- And last but not least, Alexander with his legendary sass and “screw it” approach when dealing with shits.
What I Don’t Like
- As much as I love Oliver, there’s no denying he’s being too naive for his own good. Who thinks it’s a good idea to sleep with someone’s girlfriend after that someone suspects you two cheating on him????
- I felt like somewhere around the 65-70% marked dragged a bit for me.
Overall? This book took tragedy to a whole new level. Like, this whole book is a tragedy, it breaks my heart. It’s so atmospheric, complex, and full of emotions. It’s perfect for the colder months and completely warmed my cold dead heart. It’s just…. perfection, even talking about it gives me feels. It may not be for everyone, but it’s one of the highlights of my reading year!