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If We Were Villains

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4.05  ·  Rating details ·  8,019 ratings  ·  1,912 reviews
"Much like Donna Tartt's The Secret History, M. L. Rio's sparkling debut is a richly layered story of love, friendship, and obsession...If We Were Villains will keep you riveted through its final, electrifying moments."
--Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, New York Times bestselling author of The Nest

Oliver Marks has just served ten years in jail - for a murder he may or may not have
...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 2nd 2017 by Flatiron Books
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شيماء ✨
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 ab
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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 of my fav
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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 fascina
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karen
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
jessica
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
this book! this book! my kingdom for this book!

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

the passion which radiated throughout this book made me feel so in love with shakespeare and his words (and i honestly never considered myself a fan). the way in which these students dedicated their lives to studying him w
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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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Eryn
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 s
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Grace (BURTSBOOKS)
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.
✨    jamieson   ✨
Are you ever so confident you're going to love a book there is no point even reading it because you just Know because that is kinda how I feel with this like I already know it's a fave book even tho I haven't read it okay

Like, I have a very specific aesthetic! it's dark books set in academic settings with people who are probably gay.

eg: the secret history, vicious, kill your darlings, dead poets society

AND THIS IS THAT BOOK
Diane S ☔
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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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Elise (TheBookishActress)
Nov 22, 2018 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Elise by: Aleksandra
y’all ever pick up a book that you can just FEEL is going to be amazing, and then....... shocking plot twist........ it is?
Sam
Dec 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ultima
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JanB
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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Maxwell
Oct 29, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, kindle
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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Lia  (a paper pigeon)
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.
Sara (sarawithoutanH)
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Actual Rating: 4.5/5

This book was atmospheric and enthralling. I loved the main character, Oliver. The story twists and turns and the outcome gave me so many feelings.
Mary
Apr 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Initial reaction: THE LAST PARAGRAPH OH MY GOD

Review:
Oh. My. God. I loved this I loved this I looooooved this! So beautifully written, rich in detail, with an amazing cast of characters, it kept me hooked from beginning to end. It’s a story about friendship, passion, betrayal, grief, obsession, and most of all, love for the theatre and for Shakespeare.

From Goodreads:

On the day Oliver Marks is released from jail, the man who put him there is waiting at the door. Detective Colborne wants to kno
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KL (Cat)
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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Malanie
5 SOBBING STARS

this book is what you read when you're being especially mean to yourself. i'm literally crying and i refuse to leave my room for at least a month.

“For us, everything was a performance.” A small, private smile catches me off guard and I glance down, hoping he won’t see it. “Everything poetic.”

I read the audiobook for this (which was read gorgeously) and now my only goal in life is to get the physical copy and slowly reread every single chapter. Every single human emotion is i
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❄️Nani❄️
4.5⭐

I felt like I was reading the shorter, fast paced version of The Secret History.
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Perry
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If I Were a Numskulled Nincompoop ...
(I Shall Not Spoil It for You.)


The book was heavy on histrionics for narrative fiction (as opposed to a play); too predictable for a mystery novel; definitely too hokey for literary fiction. For example, without warning, the characters in the midst of regular dialogue tend to break into pages of lines from Shakespeare.

Nevertheless, the story should please Shakespearean "folly-fallen, foot-lickers," and those up for sudsy suspense.
Sheila
5 stars--I loved it. An amazing read that's exactly my genre.

Three things about this book that might make you love it or hate it:

1. It's very similar to The Secret History, both in plot and theme. I love The Secret History, so this was right up my alley.

2. It contains an abundance of Shakespeare. There's a Shakespeare quote or play discussion on nearly every page. The characters speak to each other using phrases from Shakespeare.

3. The characters are pretentious, entitled, white college kids. I
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Dannii Elle
I think I just found a new favourite book.

Oliver Marks has been released from prison and only two people are there to greet him. One is the newly retired Detective Colborne. And he wants to know the truth. The truth of what put Oliver behind bars. The truth behind the lie that has haunted his entire career. And now, finally, he might be able to get it.

Oliver transports both the detective and the reader back in time to the early 1990’s. He is entering his fourth year of dramatic training at Delle
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Sabrina
#Update 2: 1+ months later: *waves from her grave* still not okay

#Update 1: IT'S BEEN MORE THAN A WEEK AND I'M STILL NOT OKAY

I am in tears and I think I won't be okay for a long time
lucky little cat
"No, no, no, no."
"Why are people handing this five stars?"
"I don't know, maybe they're all in love with Richard. God knows all the rest of us are."
Really? But then I remembered not everyone was in love with Richard.
"But hasn't anyone noticed it's a lightweight Secret History wannabe, only with annoying theater majors?"
"And perchance with only the most obvious quotes from the Bard?"
"Sh! They'll hear you!"
"And you entirely left out the frequent whiffs of Harry Potter-ishness."
"I'm not sure I-
...more
destiny ♎ [howling libraries]
Jan 22nd, 2019 →
I am the worst buddy read partner ever. 😭 I'm so sorry, Ellyn. This book has been beautiful so far but it's like my mental health just can't handle writing this intricate right now and I know I'll enjoy this so much more if I pick it up after my seasonal depression passes.

--

Buddy read with the amazing Ellyn! ♥
Iulia
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2018
Dark, twisted and exquisite. Full review to come.
Olive (abookolive)
EFF THAT WAS GOOD
Tammy
Apr 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This most assuredly has the feel of Donna Tartt's A Secret History which is high praise. Some of the characters are more likable than Tartt's and the Shakespearean focus is brilliant. This novel explores the depths of relationships and emotions using the bard as its conceit. I re-visited the intellectual intensity and pretentiousness of my undergraduate years and was surprised by how much of my college Shakespeare I remembered. This is a treat for those with a penchant for Shakespeare, an affini ...more
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YA Buddy Readers'...: If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio (Starting May 10) 13 24 May 23, 2018 02:37AM  
The Cheerful Wedn...: This topic has been closed to new comments. If We Were Villains | Thoughts & Reviews 15 32 Apr 29, 2018 02:29PM  
IWWV age range? 2 69 Dec 04, 2017 11:34AM  
1,039 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
“For someone who loved words as much as I did, it was amazing how often they failed me.” 110 likes
“One thing I'm sure Colborne will never understand is that I need language to live, like food—lexemes and morphemes and morsels of meaning nourish me with the knowledge that, yes, there is a word for this. Someone else has felt it before.” 66 likes
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