Review: If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

Expectation is the root of all heartache – William Shakespeare

Whoever recommended this book to me… I just want to talk.

As a former Thespian and lifelong lover of Shakespeare, If We Were Villains is a book I should have loved. So many friends spoke so highly of it that I went in with tough-to-meet expectations, and unfortunately, they were not met. I think this is a book people will either love or hate; I should have DNF’d it early on to save myself the frustration but I was curious about the mystery (but on that front was left largely wanting.)

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Anna Undreaming (The Metiks Fade Trilogy #1) by Thomas Welsh

“A spark caught, and she felt something awaken. Something angry and defiant.”

This is a book that has haunted me and my physical TBR shelf since May 2018. Anna Undreaming was the first physical book that I was sent for review and one that I have been really excited to read, but mood reading stinks. I knew in my bones that this was a story that I would absolutely love, and wanted to wait for the absolute right time to read it… and it just so happens that the right time was eight months later. I’m sorry Thomas, but this book was definitely worth the wait!

“Anna… in a world of dwindling light, you’re a bonfire in the night.”

This book is beautifully written and fast paced, an effortless and engaging read right from the first pages. Welsh has crafted a magical feeling world just behind the veil of our understanding, a world ruled where monsters roam.

“People experience Hazes… they don’t see them. The mind rationalizes it all away.”

Hazes are described as part of our world (I kind of think of them like the Fade in the Dragon Age games) and they are created, ruled, and maintained by Dreamers. Anything goes within their Hazes and “within the Haze the dreamer is God and can dream anything into reality. They can change the rules of existence, and they can make and unmake life itself.” Think of it like Inception.

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The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

“Whatever this is, it comes over them quietly: a sudden drowsiness, a closing of the eyes. Most of the victims are found in their beds.”

Friends, I was so incredibly excited for The Dreamers as I am a sucker for infection stories and the premise of this one sounded so interesting. While the writing is beautiful, I found the story had too many characters and suffered from a lack of a clear narrative voice that ultimately made it difficult for me to connect with and care about the characters. There’s a reader for every book, but unfortunately this one was not for me.

The Dreamers is told in third person omniscient with many characters to follow as the sickness makes its way through the small college town. While this narrative voice works in a lot of stories, for me it did a disservice here. I found the plot to being mostly telling instead of showing, and unfortunately the downside of having a myriad of characters to follow in this narrative voice means you don’t really learn much about their thoughts and motivations. Ultimately, I didn’t care for any of them and I feel like the perspectives lacked any sense of urgency, which is something that I would have loved to see as a focal point of the perspectives.

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