If We Were Villains

If We Were Villains

Book - 2017
Average Rating:
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Entreated to tell his side of the story to a detective who put him in prison a decade earlier for a murder he may not have committed, Oliver Marks describes his past as a Shakespearean actor in college whose rivalry with a castmate escalated in dangerous ways.
Publisher: New York : Flatiron, 2017
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 9781250095282
Characteristics: 358 p. ; 24 cm

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VaughanPLRachelP Oct 05, 2017

I've read The Secret History too many times for me not to compare this book to that at every plot pointand character introduction. There are a lot of things that let it stand on its own, though - the central friendship between the main two characters that in any other book probably would have been sidelined in favour of the bigger characters that stand out a bit more. Shakespeare fans will be doubly thrilled as they look for hints of the twists to come. Compulsively readable, you'll be satisfied when you finish this one.

s
susanchyn
Jul 19, 2017

Intriguing look at the special kind of madness that can fester in a conservatory hothouse, when a group of drama students (who speak Shakespearean, all the time) implodes. Think Whiplash, only with actors, the eponymous "villains" à la King Lear.

Pluses: Rio captures the creative energy (positive and negative) of an arts conservatory, especially on the drama side of the house. The first half of the novel courses forward at a dizzying pace. It’s the Bard and his minions on steroids, and the atmosphere is deliciously gothic.

Negatives: Villains loses momentum about halfway through, perhaps due to the strategic (and rather tricky) sequencing of the narrative. Perhaps also because the quoting of Shakespeare gets a tad old, and the characters seem a little contrived—less credible, less compelling.

JCLGreggW Feb 27, 2017

The world of a close-knit group of college students studying Shakespeare is struck by a mysterious death of one of their own. The secrets and obsessions that bind the group together slowly unravel as the tension rises. The book is riveting and will please Shakespeare fans as well as those who love slow-burn literary thrillers like Tartt’s THE SECRET HISTORY.

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