“For someone who loved words as much as I did, it was amazing how often they failed me.”
Imagine living on words. Imagine living throughout the words of another person. A person who lived far before your time being. I am talking about Shakespeare. Imagine dedicating your whole existence to Shakespeare.
“‘Do you blame Shakespeare for any of it?’ The question is so unlikely, so nonsensical coming from such a sensible man, that I can’t suppress a smile. ‘I blame him for all of it,’ I say.”
That’s what Oliver and his classmates at Dellecher do. Or rather, once did. Because it’s been ten years since Oliver has last been at Dellecher, serving ten years for a murder he may or may not have committed.
“‘It’s not all bad. I still get letters trying to convince me that you’re innocent.’ ‘Yeah,’ I say. ‘I get those, too.’ ‘Are you convinced yet?’ ‘No. I know better.'”
Being released after all, he finds that he is not the only one, who cannot forget and after ten years, he might finally be ready to share what happened a decade ago.
“Could I explain it all to Colborne, the little twists and turns and final exodos? I study his blank open face, the gray eyes winged now by crow’s-feet, but clear and bright as they have always been. ‘All right,’ I say. ‘I’ll tell you a story. […]'”
As they start their fourth year of acting at the elite conversatory Dellecher they think it is going to be just as it has always been. The seven of them, never apart, playing the same roles in life as on stage.
“Enter the players. There were seven of us, seven bright young things with wide precious futures ahead of us, though we saw no further than the books in front of our faces.”
But then everything begins to shift as castings get changed and the friends seem to drift apart. And all of a sudden they find themselves actors in a tragedy they never intended to play. Their every-day rivalry becomes more and more present until one of them is found dead, while the rest of them have to face their most significant role yet. Convincing the police, and each other, that they are innocent.
my thoughts- I bought this book before having read The Secret History by Donna Tartt and remember being unsure about buying it for exactly that reason. You’re probably asking yourself what this has to do with The Secret History, well, it is said to be similar to it and I thought, why have two books of the same kind, without you knowing if you like it? I had already fallen in love with the cover though, so I ended up buying it. Then I read The Secret History and liked, but was far from loving it. I had my doubts about this book after that, but started reading it anyways, a few weeks later. I was drawn to it from the first page. If We Were Villains hooked me in all the possible ways. It is written in in first-person, from Oliver’s point of view, and has a unique, yet easily understandable writing style, that was straight forward or describing at exactly the right times, which made the plot have a good pace. The writing style also made a good access to the the characters possible. I liked Oliver since page one and rooted with him all throughout the story, looking at things through his eyes. Him and all other characters were really well developed. Some points of the plot itself were a little predictable, but that makes complete sense, because it fits Oliver’s character (as you will learn, while reading the book) to realize some things a little later than the rest, meaning relations ships going on unofficially and stuff. I also really loved the way the story was told. In the ‘now’ at the beginning of each ‘act’ to then continue by looking back at past events, like unraveling it the other way around, from back to front, from present to past. That was a refreshing way to deal with a murder case in a book. Another thing I was obsessed with was the autumn-ish, fall-ish feeling it spread. While reading I stumbled over some incredibly beautiful fall quotes, that I still have to go look for again sometime soon. And there is more positiveness about it. If we were Villains easily manages to encourage to read Shakespeare, and a lot of it, I feel. Reading the characters act out all those plays and roles from works like ‘Macbeth’ or ‘Romeo and Juliet’ gives me a lot of incentive to check them all out and to study them. What else I can say is that it stays suspenseful until the very very end, but there’s nothing more coming from me now. I’m done, and you, you just go get the book. Oh, and don’t you dare not tell me if you end up liking it!
yours, anna xx