Book Reviews

If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio

I’d be surprised if you haven’t heard of this book, but its immediate popularity was for good reason. If We Were Villains unfolds the psychologically thrilling story of the seniors in a high school theater troupe. Each of them has always fallen perfectly into their typecast character role — the hero, the villain, the temptress, the tyrant — but beneath the surface, not all is so picture-perfect in their web of relationships, lies, and dark secrets. The deadly mysteries in If We Were Villains unravel slowly and eerily, with no small amount of poetics and theater references, and end on a note that’ll make you eager for Rio’s next novel.

Opening Line: “I sit with my wrists cuffed to the table and I think, But that I am forbid / To tell the secrets of my prison-house, / I could a tale unfold whose lightest word / Would harrow up thy soul.”

Favorite Line: “One thing I’m sure Colborne will never understand is that I need language to live, like food — lexemes and morphemes and morsels of meaning nourish me with the knowledge that, yes, there is a word for this. Someone else has felt it before.”

Why I Like It: The line above partially inspired my college essay, so there’s that.

Read If You Like: Theater, Pretty Little Liars, Shakespeare’s tragedies (or movies based on Shakespeare’s tragedies).

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