Radio Silence by Alice Oseman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?
Frances has always been a study machine with one goal, elite university. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside.
But when Frances meets Aled, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself. Then the podcast goes viral and the fragile trust between them is broken.
Caught between who she was and who she longs to be, Frances’ dreams come crashing down. Suffocating with guilt, she knows that she has to confront her past…
She has to confess why Carys disappeared…
Meanwhile at uni, Aled is alone, fighting even darker secrets.
It’s only by facing up to your fears that you can overcome them. And it’s only by being your true self that you can find happiness.
Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has.
First off, a huge thank you to Jim (@yayayeah) for the copy of Radio Silence – it genuinely has been one of the best books I’ve read this year (and I’ve read some brilliant books!)
Radio Silence is an important, well-needed book in the YA genre, touching on topics that have never been touched on before – or if they have, only fleetingly. I’m 100% sure this book will be up for some big awards next year, and I’ve genuinely heard nothing but praise for this book. I’ve already given the award of ‘If you have to read one book this year, this is it’ to Louise O’Neill’s Asking For It (review here), but this is a well-deserving close second place.
Radio Silence is a tale of friendship (and yes, platonic friendship between a male and female character, because that is so unheard of!), fandom and the fear of not being perfect.
The characters are well-developed and diverse, with a range of different sexualities and ethnicities featured, never feeling forced or out of place. The parental figures, in particular, are developed and have their own motivations and feelings, something rarely seen in YA fiction.
The main topic that spoke out to me, the reader, were the themes of having to be perfect, the pressure to go to university, and also the pressure to enjoy university. I particularly liked the characters of Frances and Aled, and their differing perspectives brought on by their (small) age gap. Carys also was refreshing and interesting.
About halfway through the book, I started noting down the quotes that really spoke out to me, so here are a few:
‘…obviously not everyone enjoyed university. I knew I would though… I was study machine Frances Janvier. I was going to Cambridge and I was going to get a good job and earn lots of money and I was going to be happy.’
‘“How about we go to the cinema this weekend?” she said. “Just a little break from all this Cambridge stuff.”
“I don’t have time. Maybe after my interviews.”’
‘I loaded up an episode of Universe City to listen to but couldn’t bring myself to press play, because I had work to do, and that was more important.’
‘“But now… I’m just… when you get to this age, you realise you’re not anyone special after all.”’
There are some others, but they’re a bit spoiler-ific, so I’ll leave them out – but Alice Oseman may well have written this book whilst peering into my soul. A lot of the points she makes on the topic of university and the pressure to be successful are valid and relatable, and the idea that even if you are bright, you can hate university and it may not be the path for you, is one that isn’t talked about enough.
A truly brilliant second novel, that should be read and discussed by prospective university applicants (and everyone, ever). (Also the cover is bloody brilliant and looks fab on my bookshelf).
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How did you find Radio Silence? Comment below or tweet me at @annalisebooks!