Book review – If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

Caidyn's review (1)

If We Were Villains

4/5

CW: murder, drug use, alcohol use, overdose, and cheating


For most of the book, I hovered around 3-3.5 stars. I really swore that it was going to be another The Secret History for me. Maybe not as pretentious, but still a group of people reeling from a murder that I didn’t care about.

However, Rio changed that. I actually liked the characters in this, even if I still got annoyed with them at times. The plot is pretty basic, as it was with The Secret History: Group of arty friends are doing a Shakespeare play. They all have their typecast roles. One starts going a little mad. Someone murders him. Except, who did it?

And then we have to pick up the pieces as they reform their group and have to go without this certain one.

I never got all of the names down of the characters. Even though I was very close to the end of the book, I still had to look up to make sure I was right. There’s Richard (the tyrant), Alexander (the villain), James (the hero), Meredith (the temptress), Wren (whatever the hell stereotype she was supposed to be), Filippa (gets small parts), and Oliver (the MC and the other one who gets small parts). Even while I was typing that up, I had to Google it and pull up the wiki for this book because I knew I was going to forget people. And I did! I got to four characters and blanked.

So, the characters, while they had depth, were just too many for me to juggle around. I kept mixing them up and it felt like too large a cast of characters for the story.

And, the story. All of the characters are fourth-year students who only do Shakespeare as actors. They’re doing Julius Caesar as their fall/winter play. And then things go terribly wrong for them. One night, someone in the group kills another.

The book starts off with Oliver being released from jail for a crime that’s not specified. He’s finally talking to the detective who worked on the murder to tell him what really happened that night and the rest of the story.

Personally, I thought it was a bit dull, but I was still pulled to read it. I loved the way it was told. Parts of it was like it was a play, like just having a list of the characters saying their lines rather than making it prose the whole time. It worked for the story, along with constantly quoting Shakespeare. Sure, it was a bit pretentious, but I love Shakespeare.

The murder took forever and it took years to get through it, but I found the ending good and poignant. I also enjoyed who the murderer was. So, in the end, it was a wash for me. I thought it was very good, but I don’t know if I loved it. I think that this is going to be one of those books I’ll appreciate more on a reread.


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4 thoughts on “Book review – If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

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