“You can justify anything if you do it poetically enough.”
Okay, so I lied on my last blog post. My last read of 2020 is actually If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio. And, while I didn’t love this as much as Legendborn, I was still very much a fan.
This book is told through two timelines. In one, we follow a tight knit group of friends who are all theater students at a prestigious university. The other timeline is many years into the future and we find out that Oliver, one member of this close group of friends, has spent the last decade of his life in prison for murder. We don’t know who has been killed, or the motive, or even if Oliver is the one who committed the crime.
I would advise not knowing much else about the plot before going into this book, because the story really unfolds in a beautiful way. However, because this book is about theater students, there are a lot of references to Shakespeare and his plays. Like, a lot. If you aren’t a fan of him or dark academia in general, this may not be the book for you.
- this book comes across as highly pretentious. It is a very shakespearean-rich theatre kids-morally grey characters- type of book. I understand that this could be a negative for many people, but I actually really liked it. As someone who is a fan of dark academia, I appreciated the fact that the characters from If We Were Villains were not meant to be likeable. You were supposed to hate them and be confused by their actions. However, their chemistry?? Unmatched.
- the plot twists. Wow. Obviously, no spoilers here, but there were quite a few twists that I did not see coming.
- the romance. I will admit it got a little confusing at times. Between these seven friends, it felt like in a way they were all pining for each other. I’ll go into this a little more in the spoilers section.
- tbh the fact that I just can’t stop thinking about this book?? Like it’s been days since I finished it but it’s really living in my head rent-free.
- as someone who is really not into plays or theatre, this book was confusing at times. The main reason is the characters make so many references to plays even when they’re not acting, and if you haven’t read them, then those references go right over your head. BUT, I will say that this book kind of made me want to start reading more Shakespeare??
- the romance. I know I put this as a pro, but it’s honestly both.
I need to talk about Oliver and James. I loved the romance/connection between these two, and I really wish they would’ve acknowledged their feelings for each other earlier on in the book. Instead, we get pages upon pages of Oliver with Meredith and James with Wren. I was confused though, because it felt like James really did like Wren?? But he also liked Oliver? I don’t know. I did appreciate the friendship between them all but the line between them being friends and them being lovers was kind of blurred and in a way that confused the readers.
I also wish the book was just a tad bit longer. I feel like Fillipa was a very mysterious character and the whole time it felt like the author was hinting that there may be a bigger secret about her. But then, I got to the end, and she’s the same mysterious character she was at the beginning. Absolutely nothing about her was found out. Maybe the author did that on purpose, but I really didn’t get the point of keeping her so secretive if nothing was going to be revealed.
And the plot twist at the very end had me shook. I know there are several different theories, but I really believe that James faked his death and he is out there waiting for Oliver.
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In conclusion, while I really loved this book, I can see why it’s not for everyone. Until next time <33