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If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
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If We Were Villains (2017)

by M.L. Rio

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2712160,568 (3.78)16
  1. 20
    The Secret History by Donna Tartt (RiversideReader)
    RiversideReader: both books about friends at college who get caught up in a group crime
  2. 00
    The Basic Eight by Daniel Handler (Lirmac)
  3. 00
    The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips (Lirmac)
    Lirmac: Two books that explore creativity, crime and their connection to Shakespeare.
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» See also 16 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
Yes, this book certainly has a lot of The Secret History in it. However, it is still a brilliant, incredibly tense and incredibly well made story that I could not put down for one second. I absolutely adore this book! ( )
  ancientbookbride | Sep 11, 2018 |
low key was disappointed that this didn't quite fill the secret history sized hole in my heart but ya know, it was still pretty goddamn fantastic ( )
  ireneattolia | Sep 3, 2018 |
The main attraction of this book is also its biggest problem: its similarity with Donna Tartt's The Secret History. The book is at its weakest when dealing with the story's 'detective' aspect and best when drawing the characters and their relationships. Some of the romantic involvements smack a little of adolescent fantasy, but this is a minor complaint. This is a sound and thoroughly enjoyable book, which would merit a great deal more praise if were not constantly bringing Tartt's masterpiece to mind. ( )
  Lirmac | Aug 1, 2018 |
‘’’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 fascinated me more was the fact that it is not only an ode to the immortal genius that is Shakespeare, but a hymn to the significance and immense value of the Villain. Well-written villains are the crown jewels in Literature and a large majority of readers find them absolutely fascinating as they have shaped -and continue shaping- Literature and Theatre. Shakespeare’s villains, in particular, are the core of his greatest plays. Is Macbeth a villain? Or Shylock? What about Brutus or Edmund? Or Iago who seems to have absolutely no redeeming qualities?

In M.L.Rio’s novel, we have seven four-year students that are about to graduate and become actors in the real world. A tragic event following a short period of intense feelings causes their world to tumble down. Passions and hidden animosity come forward and the villains become victims and the victims are turned to villains on their own freewill.

‘’By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.’’
Macbeth, Act 4 , Scene 1


M.L. Rio manages to use and refer to every play by the Bard and some of his sonnets, but there are four plays which shape the narrative.Macbeth, Julius Caesar, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet. Each one serves a different purpose and Rio works them in the story masterfully. Wicked deeds are set in motion when a member of this fellowship loses the sense of right and wrong, and as in Julius Caesar, the battle between friends and the acts that can be considered treasonous consist the essence of the entire story. The theme of problematic friendship is present in Macbeth as well, where Macbeth turns against his loyal friend, Banquo, guided by ambition and a misleading wish for power. Perhaps, Macbeth is the play most presented and quoted in the novel, something that contributes to its foreboding beauty. There is a sequence of a production of the Scottish Play, set during the night of Halloween, in the darkness, outdoors. It is among the most beautiful and most powerful depictions I've ever read or watched. Theatre directors should definitely consult Rio before they attempt to deal with Macbeth. I’d dare to say that the Bard himself would certainly embrace it. It is an eerie, haunting scene, an exaltation of Will’s masterpiece.

‘’Believe none of us.’’
Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1


Yes, the seven friends are among the most interesting characters you’ll come across. They are not to be trusted, or believed, but you must care for them. Richard is wild, possessive, the male star of the company.Wren is delicate and shy, the Ophelia of the group. Alexander doesn't really know what to do with his life, James knows what to do but is too afraid to do it. The three most interesting characters are Oliver, Meredith and Filipa.Meredith is my spirit animal. Fierce, demanding, questioning everything, but sensitive and always uncertain of herself and her abilities. I love her! Filipa is a beautiful soul, loyal, tender, the rock that keeps everyone solid, struggling for them to retain their sanity. Oliver is the heat of the story, he is kindness and innocence and the proof that there is still some good in this world that cannot be destroyed. Poor Oliver…

The writing is exceptional! Oliver’s speech on the essence of Shakespeare is the best I’ve ever read. The whole spirit of the Bard enclosed in a short paragraph, better than any collection of academic essays. Modern language interacts with Shakespeare’s immortal lines in a brilliant flow of speech.

There are so many incredible twists, so much insight into the human soul. What about lies? Lies that are used to protect loved ones? Lies that we have taken for granted for all our lives? Who is the villain?Shakespeare knew human nature better than any psychologist. He knew that there is no clear line between a villain and victim. Just as it often happens in real life. And this is so beautifully transferred in Rio’s marvelous novel that makes one wonder whether we actually know where our ‘’good’’ self end and the ‘’bad’’ begins. This duality is a never-ending battle…

This is a beautiful, moving book, created with darkness, strife and sensitivity. Read it and see for yourselves…

''When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain?''
''When the hurlyburly’s done. When the battle’s lost and won.''
Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 1
( )
  AmaliaGavea | Jul 15, 2018 |
‘’’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 fascinated me more was the fact that it is not only an ode to the immortal genius that is Shakespeare, but a hymn to the significance and immense value of the Villain. Well-written villains are the crown jewels in Literature and a large majority of readers find them absolutely fascinating as they have shaped -and continue shaping- Literature and Theatre. Shakespeare’s villains, in particular, are the core of his greatest plays. Is Macbeth a villain? Or Shylock? What about Brutus or Edmund? Or Iago who seems to have absolutely no redeeming qualities?

In M.L.Rio’s novel, we have seven four-year students that are about to graduate and become actors in the real world. A tragic event following a short period of intense feelings causes their world to tumble down. Passions and hidden animosity come forward and the villains become victims and the victims are turned to villains on their own freewill.

‘’By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.’’
Macbeth, Act 4 , Scene 1

M.L. Rio manages to use and refer to every play by the Bard and some of his sonnets, but there are four plays which shape the narrative.Macbeth, Julius Caesar, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet. Each one serves a different purpose and Rio works them in the story masterfully. Wicked deeds are set in motion when a member of this fellowship loses the sense of right and wrong, and as in Julius Caesar, the battle between friends and the acts that can be considered treasonous consist the essence of the entire story. The theme of problematic friendship is present in Macbeth as well, where Macbeth turns against his loyal friend, Banquo, guided by ambition and a misleading wish for power. Perhaps, Macbeth is the play most presented and quoted in the novel, something that contributes to its foreboding beauty. There is a sequence of a production of the Scottish Play, set during the night of Halloween, in the darkness, outdoors. It is among the most beautiful and most powerful depictions I've ever read or watched. Theatre directors should definitely consult Rio before they attempt to deal with Macbeth. I’d dare to say that the Bard himself would certainly embrace it. It is an eerie, haunting scene, an exaltation of Will’s masterpiece.

‘’Believe none of us.’’
Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1

Yes, the seven friends are among the most interesting characters you’ll come across. They are not to be trusted, or believed, but you must care for them. Richard is wild, possessive, the male star of the company.Wren is delicate and shy, the Ophelia of the group. Alexander doesn't really know what to do with his life, James knows what to do but is too afraid to do it. The three most interesting characters are Oliver, Meredith and Filipa.Meredith is my spirit animal. Fierce, demanding, questioning everything, but sensitive and always uncertain of herself and her abilities. I love her! Filipa is a beautiful soul, loyal, tender, the rock that keeps everyone solid, struggling for them to retain their sanity. Oliver is the heat of the story, he is kindness and innocence and the proof that there is still some good in this world that cannot be destroyed. Poor Oliver…

The writing is exceptional! Oliver’s speech on the essence of Shakespeare is the best I’ve ever read. The whole spirit of the Bard enclosed in a short paragraph, better than any collection of academic essays. Modern language interacts with Shakespeare’s immortal lines in a brilliant flow of speech.

There are so many incredible twists, so much insight into the human soul. What about lies? Lies that are used to protect loved ones? Lies that we have taken for granted for all our lives? Who is the villain?Shakespeare knew human nature better than any psychologist. He knew that there is no clear line between a villain and victim. Just as it often happens in real life. And this is so beautifully transferred in Rio’s marvelous novel that makes one wonder whether we actually know where our ‘’good’’ self end and the ‘’bad’’ begins. This duality is a never-ending battle…

This is a beautiful, moving book, created with darkness, strife and sensitivity. Read it and see for yourselves…

''When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain?''
''When the hurlyburly’s done. When the battle’s lost and won.''
Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 1 ( )
  AmaliaGavea | Jul 15, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
In this strong and assured first novel, Rio crafts an intricate story about friendship, love, and betrayal. Recommended for readers who enjoy literary fiction by authors such as Tartt or Emily St. John Mandel.
added by ablachly | editLibrary Journal (Apr 17, 2017)
 
This novel about obsession at the conservatory will thoroughly obsess you.
 
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For the many weird and wonderful thespians whom I have had the good fortune to call my friends. (I promise this is not about you.)
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Book description
Enter the players.
There were seven of us then, seven bright young things with wide precious futures ahead of us, though we saw no further than the books in front of our faces.


On the day Oliver Marks is released from jail, the man who put him there is waiting at the door. Detective Colborne wants to know the truth, and after ten years, Oliver is finally ready to tell it.

Ten years ago: Oliver is one of seven young Shakespearean actors at Dellecher Classical Conservatory, a place of keen ambition and fierce competition. In this secluded world of firelight and leather-bound books, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingénue, extras. But in their fourth and final year, the balance of power begins to shift, good-natured rivalries turn ugly, and on opening night real violence invades the students' world of make-believe. In the morning, fourth-years find themselves facing their very own tragedy and their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, one another, and themselves that they are innocent.

Part coming-of-age story, part confession, If We Were Villains explores the magical and dangerous boundary between art and life. In this tale of loyalty and betrayal, madness and ecstasy, the players must choose what roles to play before the curtain falls.

Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 125009528X, Hardcover)

“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 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 the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress. But when the casting changes, and the secondary characters usurp the stars, the plays spill dangerously over into life, and one of them is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless.

Intelligent, thrilling, and richly detailed, If We Were Villains is a captivating story of the enduring power and passion of words.

(retrieved from Amazon Sat, 14 Jan 2017 03:09:59 -0500)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"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 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 the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingenue, extra. But when the casting changes, and the secondary characters usurp the stars, the plays spill dangerously over into life, and one of them is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless. Intelligent, thrilling, and richly detailed, If We Were Villains is a captivating story of the enduring power and passion of words.… (more)

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