Review | If We Were Villians by M.L. Rio

If We Were VillainsTitle: If We Were Villians

Author: M.L. Rio

Rating:  ★★★★☆ (4.5 Stars)

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Release Date: April 11, 2017

“You’ve kept your secrets all this time,” he says. “It would drive anyone else crazy. Why do it?”
“I wanted to.”
“Do you still?”

Even thinking about this book, I just get chills because of how immersive and emotional it is. It’s a hauntingly beautiful story about friendship, anger, regret, love, resentment, and so much more. We follow a group of theater students at an highly competitive and exclusive conservatory college as their final year unfolds.

I loved these characters – we immediately get a sense of who they are by how they’re typecast in the school’s plays. It’s fascinating to see how they confirm and break those expectations over the course of the novel. But the dynamic between these seven seniors is the heart of the story and pulls you in immediately. You don’t know if the love each other or it they hate each other, but there are always deep emotions there. Nothing is ever forced.

Reading about the performances is something else. I was truly enthralled at their reimagining of Shakespeare’s plays. The Halloween performance was haunting and I couldn’t take my eyes off the page. And while it was sometimes a little jarring to see so much Shakespeare used as dialogue between the students, it felt very authentic to their group and their relationships – and really blurred the lines between acting and reality perfectly.

I don’t know if i’d classify this as a mystery personally because I thought the answers were fairly obvious, but that took nothing away from the story. Because at it’s core its about people and their relationships and how we try, and sometimes fail to, makes sense of the world around us. I wouldn’t say this is a sad story, but it is a heavy one with sometimes shining glimmers of hope that felt all the more sweet. It’s truly a story I don’t think I could forget.


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