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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

#CJSReads REVIEW: If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
Flatiron Books
Releases 4/11/17 - TODAY

An absolute must-read and favorite of #CJSReads so far this year - full 5 Stars across the board.  Scroll down to see our full thoughts!



Lovers and non-lovers of Shakespeare will love this walk on the fine line between art and reality.  When does the acting remain on the stage and when does it bleed into real life?


Synopsis from Goodreads:

Enter the players. There were seven of us then, seven bright young things with wide precious futures ahead of us. Until that year, 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, ingĂ©nue, extra. 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, the fourth-years find themselves facing their very own tragedy, and their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, each other, 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.
 



Jessica's Thoughts:
5 / 5 Stars

This was a book I went into without knowing much about it. I loved the cover and the title, so that was enough for me! I was intrigued from the first pages and that kept up throughout the whole book! Another amazing debut from a new thriller author.

"Enter the players. There were seven of us then, seven bright young things with wide precious futures ahead of us. Until that year, we saw no further than the books in front of our faces."

On the day Oliver Marks is released from jail, Detective Colborne is 
waiting at the door for him, and he wants to know the truth, and ten years later, Oliver is finally ready to tell it. Ten years ago, Oliver is one of seven young Shakespearean actors at Dellecher Classical Conservatory. Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: the hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingĂ©nue, and extra. But in their fourth (and final) year, the balance of power begins to shift when good-natured rivalries turn ugly On their opening night, real violence strikes and it consumes their real world lives. The morning after, the students find themselves facing their very own tragedy, and their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, each other, and themselves that they are innocent.

I really enjoyed how this read. There were the parts thrown in that felt like reading a play and others were it was purely a thriller. It was a very uniquely written book. M.L Rio did a great job developing the characters and building the story! Where do life and art separate? We got a little bit of everything in this novel: loyalty, betrayal, madness, ecstasy, and then trying to figure out who they are before the end. I also loved the back and forth, and the beginning really grabbed me - when the Detective is trying to convince Oliver to tell him what really happened, it makes you want to know!
I give this 5/5 stars! It was a unique ride and one I wasn't expecting.

Follow Jessica on Goodreads or Instagram

Sam's Thoughts:
5 / 5 Stars


I truly cannot say enough amazing things about If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio.  Between the text's originality, fast paced plot, complex characters and smart dialogue, I was captivated.

The novel opens with Oliver's release from prison; after spending ten years locked away, he wants nothing more than to move on, but the man who put him away is waiting for him.  Detective Colborne wants the truth and he has waited ten years for it.

Told in alternating perspectives from past and present, Oliver goes back in time to where he was one of seven Shakespearean actors in his final year at Dellecher Classical Conservatory.  Where the lines between character and self blended and competition was fierce, the friends find their world of make believe shattered when real tragedy strikes and they meet their greatest acting challenge to date: convincing everyone of their innocence.

Crazy right??!!

Now, do not be deterred if you loathed Shakespeare in the past, Rio's narrative style modernizes the text and although Shakespeare's plays are quoted directly, the context of the dialogue makes everything extremely easy to understand.  Something about this book was extremely magical, as it borrows some of Shakespeare's strongest themes (revenge, murder and betrayal and madness) to create an incredible story. 

There were also small details that I grew to appreciate during my reading:  the chapters are called scenes, the sections are Acts and even the dialogue is sometimes written as if you are reading a play.

I will absolutely be reading more of this author's work and consider this one a must read.  It has been one of my favourites, so far, this year!


Follow Sam on InstagramTwitter, Goodreads and her Blog!

My Thoughts:
5 / 5 Stars

After 10 years in jail, Oliver is released and the detective who arrested him sits with him to get the full story. As one of seven actors at Dellecher Classical Conservatory, acting is competitive and all consuming. These 7 are not only classmates, not only friends, but family. Consistently they end up playing the same roles. When the script gets flipped and casting changes, competitiveness gets the better of them and rivalries ensue. They face their own real life violence and their acting skills become in use to convince not only the detectives, but themselves, that they are innocent. 

Admittedly I have never been the greatest Shakespeare fan. I loved seeing creations come to film and play, but to read has always been a difficult chore for me. Because of this I was wondering just how much I would like this read considering some Shakespearean verse is included. Well color me surprised. Each Part is an Act, starting with a Prologue and each Chapter a Scene. As Oliver tell his story, I am completely and utterly drawn in. The author does a fantastic job of building each character and how they react to each other and the issue at hand. This is a novel about friendship, family, betrayal, lust, love and the fine line drawn between the roles they play on stage and in life. I highly recommend.



Thank you to Flatiron Books for this incredible journey.



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