If We Were Villains

If We Were Villains

Erin Dooley , Journalism Block 4AC

“If We Were Villains” by M. L. Rio is an enchanting fictional story following seven friends attending Dellcher Classical Conservatory, a prestigious university specializing in the fine and performing arts. The story is told from the perspective of Oliver Marks, one of the seven acting classmates studying Shakespeare’s work. 

The story is sectioned into five acts, each one beginning with dialogue from ten years after the story takes place. Each one with Oliver, recently released from prison, finally being able to recount the tale from Dellcher.

Within the first few pages of Oliver’s narration, the readers get a sense that something terrible has happened at Dellcher ten years ago, immediately creating a feeling of suspense. Rio keeps the reader engaged throughout the entire book because they have the knowledge that something has happened but they are not sure what. This element of mystery keeps the reader wondering as they slowly piece together the truth of “the accident”. This very slow method of feeding information makes the book that much more engaging and appealing. 

The effect of having each act start in the present and then the rest of the act being written in the past creates an eerie atmosphere surrounding the story right from the beginning. As the readers already are expecting something to go wrong from the very start of the first act, the book takes on a dark and mysterious ambiance. 

Rio skillfully implements parts of Shakespearen dialogue that the students are learning into the characters’ conversations throughout the book. This intimate intertwining of Shakespeare’s work into Rio’s own writing serves as a way for the readers to see the relationships that the students have with one another on the stage, as well as offstage. It displays how the acting the students do in class carry over to their interactions and the situations that they face, an important factor in the story. 

At the very end of the book we finally see the entire story unfold. The details of the previous acts suddenly click into place for the readers as the mystery of what happened at Dellcher has pieced itself together. L. Rio has crafted a book filled to the brim with intense passion, violence, love, and sacrifice. Rio stirs the emotions of the reader in a way that makes us feel exactly as if we were experiencing the story with the characters. We feel the same despair, hope, anger, and joy that Oliver and his classmates felt.

This book is worth the time of any readers who enjoy a good mystery with conflict and love at its very core. It is a story that will leave you thinking about it for weeks afterward, and a book you will wish you could experience for the first time over and over again. “If We Were Villains” is in no means a quick read, but it is worth every moment spent between its pages.