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If We Were Villains

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4.10  ·  Rating details ·  24,223 ratings  ·  5,092 reviews
Oliver Marks has just served ten years in jail - for a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he's released, he's greeted by the man who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened a decade ago.

As one of seven young actors studying Shakespeare at an elite arts college, Oliver and his friends play
...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published April 11th 2017 by Flatiron Books
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Average rating 4.10  · 
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 ·  24,223 ratings  ·  5,092 reviews


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chai ♡
Folks, when you come across this book, you’ll hear a voice saying, “Oh, this sounds interesting! Do it.” That’s the devil talking.

I hate this book so much I can't bear it. I tore through it, but I feel like it tore through me. That ending grabbed an invisible dagger and twisted it between my ribs. I didn’t want to talk for like...three years. I was exhausted. My heart felt like it was rammed by a semi-truck.

Fuck you, book. You're a bound bundle of dead tree. How dare you.

So, what’s this book
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jessica
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
reread and its good to know that dark academia is still my aesthetic and this story still owns my heart and soul.

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this book! this book! my kingdom for this book!

this is absolutely sensational, a true work of brilliance. i am so enamoured by this story and everything it has to offer. its quite clever and beyond invigorating - the type of book that fully immerses you whilst reading it.

the passion which radiates throughout this story makes me feel so in love wit
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Elle (ellexamines)
You can justify anything, if you do it poetically enough.

this is going to be one of my favorite books of the year... almost definitely. I’m saying that now on January 26th because I want you all to know. I genuinely cannot remember the last time I found myself so utterly engaged in a book.

Okay, so this is a drama set at a Shakespeare theater, in which a group of theater actors accidentally kill a man and deal with the fallout. Yay! Fun happy stuff. As the plays continue, their roles
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 Teodora
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
5/5 ⭐

Full review on my Blog: The Dacian She-Wolf 🐺
description

“We felt all the passions of the characters we played as if they were our own. But a character’s emotions don’t cancel out the actor’s – instead you feel both at once.”

I can’t even express how upset I am to see how underrated this book is. Like, how the fuck??

This is such a good book; I’ve been obsessed with it for at least a week straight and even though I felt the urge to devour it, I didn’t want it to end so fast so I had
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Melanie


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

This book is so haunting, so atmospheric, so gripping, and so perfect. And If you, too, love The Secret History by Donna Tartt then I recommend this book with every single bone in my body. Also, this is such a love letter to Shakespeare and all his work, so if you appreciate that I think you’ll also fall so head over heels for this story. I’m honestly not sure what I expected going into If We Were Villains, but it is now one
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Charlotte May
"This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine."

I have no words. I expected this to be good - there are so many exceptional reviews, I really hoped it would live up to its hype.
Well, it did and more!
7 drama students at an Elite Arts University are in their final year. They are as close as 7 people can be, they fight, they love and above it all they are obsessed with the works of Shakespeare (bear this in mind if you don't like Shakespeare as there are loads of quotes and sections in here).

Oliver -
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✨    jamieson   ✨

To sum up: This is the secret history, but written better and with less queerbait, and it focusses on Shakespeare not Greek myths. Dark Academia is That Genre, I love it so much and it fuels me. I'm so glad I finally read this, it was truly delicious. Also, I'm talking about my Theory for the end in the last past of this review to stay tuned, folks!

“The real sky was enormous overhead, making our mirrors and twinkling stage lights seem ridiculous- Man’s futile attempt to imitate God”



If We We
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karen
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
until the ending, this was probably going to be a three star from me. a high three on the three-star spectrum, but a three nonetheless. it held my interest, but i think this one will resonate more with theater-kids than it did for me, because of how firmly entrenched it is in that world. rio makes it accessible to regular folk, but it probably helps to have a soft place in your heart for young actors and the things that drive them, and i’m someone impatient with affectation both in life and in m ...more
Cindy Pham
Sep 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
As someone who’s not familiar with theatre plays, I still enjoyed reading this book regardless. I’m sure theatre lovers will pick up all the nuances and appreciate it more, but it’s a fun ride with all the murder and melodrama, and I could still tell that much of the narrative mirrored plays that the characters were performing and quoting. There was a lot of building tension and intrigue throughout the story, though I felt the plot twist and the murder’s identity were predictable.
Amalia Gavea
‘’’Tis now dead midnight.’’
Measure for Measure, Act 4, Scene 2


Why midnight?Midnight stands between light and darkness. The day that has been completed and the new one that slowly attempts to rise. During midnight, two key events take place in this glorious book, and like this haunting time of day, our characters are walking the thin line between good and evil. And for this, they make the best ‘’villains’’.

This book is so exquisite,so darkly beautiful that I didn’t want it to end. What f
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Julie
If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio is a 2017 Flatiron Books publication.


This is a psychological thriller for deep thinkers. There is crime and there is punishment. There is mystery, suspense. There are intense characters, shallow ones too, those who are fatalistic and those who are tragic… just like a Shakespearean play.


Ten years ago, Oliver Marks was one of seven Shakespearean actors at the prestigious Dellecher Classical Conservatory. Today he is about to walk out of a prison cell for the first
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K. Elizabeth
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those who enjoyed "The Secret History," by Donna Tart
*Update - 2018*

Because I still think about this book almost a year after reading it, I'm moving it to my favorite's shelf. I think it's deserving there, right alongside The Secret History and Vicious.
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4.25-4.5/5 Stars

This was breathtakingly brilliant. Honestly, if this book isn't on your to-be-read list, it needs to be. It starts off shaky (at least it did to me), however, once it grabs your attention - it will not let go.

Now, where do I even start? Should I
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Riley
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, m-m
well this is my favorite book of this year so far.
also I feel attacked by that ending
Mara YA Mood Reader
Now this is what New Adult should be like! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼


I had serious Dead Poets Society vibes here, I loved the dark academia atmosphere, with weird theatre kids haha.

I’m neutral when it comes to Shakespeare. I didn’t attend traditional high school so I was never academically exposed to it, nor did I seek it out on my own. I don’t like Shakespeare nor hate it...I simply just don’t know Shakespeare...



So in a way, I guess I was mildly intrigued by the heavy Shakespearean content and fan
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amy ☂︎
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Personally, I believe this book belongs in jail for what it did to me. Coming out of If We Were Villains I feel tainted with the undeniable immorality of it all. I'm left with a sense of wrongness that will probably stick with me for the rest of my life. And yet I'm unhealthily, inexplicably and irreversibly drawn to this book.

There's something so fucking sexy about the intelligence that If We Were Villains posesses. I feel like I became a part of this story, as if I myself just witnessed a murd
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Maxwell
Oct 29, 2017 rated it liked it
At the beginning I thought this was going to be a 5-star read for me. I was immediately sucked in and didn't want to put it down. I loved getting to know the characters; I found the setting and atmosphere very palpable and moody (it mostly takes place on a college campus in the late 1990's); and the Shakespearean elements were fun because I'd studied his work quite a bit in school.

However, as the story went on I found it to become quite predictable, and many of the elements from the beginning st
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Kayla Dawn
Jul 24, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
Uhm.. this was boring?

And maybe I'm uncultured or whatever but my god all of those Shakespeare quotes annoyed the hell out of me.
I didn't care for any of the characters, I didn't care for the plot and I didn't care who the murderer was (and if we're being honest, there wasn't even really a mystery here. I don't know if some stuff was supposed to be shocking or not, but it definitely was not thrilling)

I was bored out of my mind.



(And what's with those weird comments Oliver made about his sister
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;3
here’s my review:

1) not gay enough 😡😴
2) author put me through so much hetero sex and for WHAT
3) this is why i steer clear of white theatre kids
Grace (BURTSBOOKS)
Jun 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars

I have no idea what to say - love doesn't seem like an accurate enough descriptor and nothing else comes to mind. This is 100% one of the most unique reading experiences I have ever had and now I have a headache. Full review to come.
Amy Imogene Reads
5 sonnet-inspiring stars!

An anti-Shakespeare reader reads a book structured, centered, and deeply versed in Shakespeare....and literally falls head over heels for it. What? If We Were Villains was amazing.

Writing: ★★★★★
Structure: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Pacing: ★★★★★

Seven fourth-year college students at an intense fine arts conservatory in Illinois find themselves in their own version of a Shakespearean tragedy as real life begins to blur around the edges of Shakespeare's verse. The hero, the vil
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Diane S ☔
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lor
4.5. A small elite school, a theater program that is only about Shakespeare, seven friends, seniors, together from the beginning, strong, intense friendships formed. Oliver, our narrator, one of the seven, just released from spending tempers in prison. How did something so special, so promising, go so wrong?

A novel of love, obsession, friendship passion and betrayal. Spending all their on and off time together, this little theater group becomes more important to each other than their real famili
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Hillary
*slams hands on table* 5 FUCKING STARS

THIS BOOK WRECKED ME
THIS BOOK PLAYED WITH MY FEELINGS
THIS BOOK THRUST ME INTO A NIGHTMARE I WAS HAPPY TO BE PART OF


Actors are by nature volatile—alchemic creatures composed of incendiary elements, emotion and ego and envy. Heat them up, stir them together, and sometimes you get gold. Sometimes disaster.


Reading this book was like drowning in syrup. The epitome of bittersweet. I loved it so much it physically hurts. I’m unable to really talk about it witho
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C.G. Drews
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
this book is just that good that I'm having a total overwrought and overwhelmed breakdown. I was just...so so into it. I can't breeeeathe anymore. And I freaking swear; i was about to slam this book so hard across the room and sob in despair and not even rate it -- but the ending. The last fcking sentence. I am a pile of unorganised emotions in a trench coat just...just go. I'll be fine.

[lies. i will never be fine. THIS BOOK. THIS BOOK]


// “Imagine having all your own thoughts and feelings tangle
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may ➹
Jul 11, 2019 marked it as to-read
concept: I actually read this book after it’s been on my currently reading shelf since July 2019

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so I heard this book was about creepy theatre gays.........I’m in
MaryGrace
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I HATE THIS BOOK I HATE THIS BOOK I HATE THIS BOOK. I JUST SPENT THE LAST HALF HOUR SOBBING ON A PUBLIC BUS AT 10:15 PM AND THAT IS NOT OKAY

Buddy Read with Katie (aka Patronusaurus)
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booksnpenguins
Actors are by nature volatile—alchemic creatures composed of incendiary elements, emotion and ego and envy. Heat them up, stir them together, and sometimes you get gold. Sometimes disaster.




This is like The Secret History 2.0







And I shamelessly loved every single line.
JanB
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars, rounded up

I listened to this on a long drive and, despite being well-written, I nearly gave up on it. My initial reaction was I didn’t want to spend another minute with this group of pretentious theater students. Plus I was annoyed by the quotes from Shakespeare. But, since I was driving, I was a captive audience until my next stop.

Soon, things took an interesting turn when one of the students is found dead, and another is accused of the murder. From there, I was fully invested in ho
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Sam
Dec 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-reads
"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player /That struts and frets his hour upon the stage /And then is heard no more: it is a tale /Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, /Signifying nothing"

The five words or fewer pitch: The Secret History meets William Shakespeare. Let me start off by saying this is not a perfect book and it certainly won't work for everyone. In fact, I don't know anyone I would personally recommend it to. But I really, really enjoyed reading this, and even if it ulti
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KL (Cat)
Apr 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Oh god here's to hoping I don't get lynched for this.

Personally, I find making book comparisons in reviews distasteful and frankly insulting to both writers. However there are times when a work comes up with startling similarities before you decide to roll your eyes, and say ok, Cassandra Clare, plagiarizing the Harry Potter series for The Iron Trial is not cool at all (and yes, it's been years but LET ME BE PETTY).

I'm not claiming that IWWV is a copy of The Secret History. Certainly there is
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Sylvie {on semi-hiatus}
3.85 out of 5 stars.

I tried to keep this review as spoiler free as possible. Regardless, proceed at your own risk!

First things first, I saw a lot of comparisons of ''If We Were Villains'' to Donna Tart's "Secret History", so I'm assuming the story doesn't have the most original and unique concept. But if i have to be completly frank, I've never heard of 'Secret History' until after I finished this book. So, I may have to give that book a try as well. Who know? Maybe I'll end up loving or may
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1,883 followers
M. L. Rio is an author, but before she was an author she was an actor, and before she was an actor she was just a word nerd whose best friends were books. She holds a master's degree in Shakespeare Studies from King's College London and Shakespeare's Globe. She currently lives in Washington, D. C., but she is terrible at updating online bios, so this information will probably be outdated by the ti ...more

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