Hey guys! I received a review copy of If We Were Villains, by M.L Rio, and wow, this book was CRAZY GOOD! This story follows seven fourth-year students at Dellecher Classical Conservatory, the most elite performing arts school in the country. The fourth years are hot-blooded, passionate, ambitious, fiercely competitive, extremely close. Making it to the fourth year without getting cut is a huge accomplishment on its own, but with the competition of their final year at Dellecher bearing down on them the students are about to be tested on and off the stage.
This book was right up my alley. For one, I always love books told at boarding schools. There’s something so intense about the microcosm that a boarding school forms, and at Dellecher it was a whole new level. The actors had lived together, loved each other, hated each other, competed, kissed, formed rivalries and friendships throughout their years there, and by the time we meet them they are incredibly close and deliciously twisted.
The Shakespearean aspect of this added a whole new level of complexity and brilliance to the plot. The story managed to incorporate a few different plays into the plot, mirroring and paralleling the conflicts happening at Dellecher. The students themselves are also ridiculously well-versed in Shakespeare. They practically have their own language, speaking in quotes that always fit the situation perfectly. It gives the book a really interesting old-fashioned feeling that contrasts sharply with the scandals, crime, and general debauchery going on at Dellecher.
The plot of this book was wild. As soon as the action began, it was impossible to look away. The author did an amazing job of making all of the characters suspect. You’re never sure who to trust; they’re all kind of crazy, all deranged in their own way. As the mystery unravels you change your mind a million times about who you think did it, and when you find out the truth you realize that you should have seen it all along. To me, that is the sign of a good mystery, when the ending feels both unexpected and like it was clear from the beginning, you just didn’t know where to look.
The characters in this were superb. Each character both fit a Shakespearean trope and felt completely original. They were actors through and through; intense, passionate, multi-faceted, quarrelsome, loving, and fiercely protective. Half the time I wanted to be best friends with all of them, and the other half I was certain I would never be able to keep up.
Overall, I thought this book was a really original, enjoyable read. I couldn’t put it down, and the writing itself was precise and beautiful. For fans of mysteries, YA, or Shakespeare, I totally recommend this book. You can get it on sale here! If We Were Villains: A Novel
Final rating- 5/5
Thanks for reading my review, and until next time, happy reading 🙂