Book Review: Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

Hello, friends! I hope you’re all well and safe and having a wonderful reading month so far. You know by now that I’m hardly consistent with writing book reviews. I don’t consider myself to be very eloquent or concise, which means that I’m often rambling with no direction when I try to review a book. It’s not pretty. So, if I’m writing a review, then the book must have really moved me. With that being said, I finally decided to pick up Radio Silence by Alice Oseman, and I don’t think I’ll ever be the same again. Radio Silence owns my entire heart, and this is easily in my top 5 books of 2020 so far. If you’re interested in a fairly spoiler-free and nonsensical review of this book, keep on reading!

Hello.
I hope somebody is listening.

Radio Silence is a coming-of-age story following Frances Janvier, a studious head girl whose future happiness is dependent on getting into university, and Aled Last, a brilliant and quiet boy with a big secret. Brought together by the wildly popular podcast, Universe City, the two become best friends. With Aled, Frances feels like she can finally be the “real” Frances, not the ever-responsible and always-studying version of herself that she shows to the world. When trusts are broken and their friendship falls apart, Frances must reconcile who she used to be with the person she’s becoming, confront her past, and use it to save Aled from himself.

Whew, okay, that was HARD. I struggled coming up with just one paragraph to sum up what this book is about, because my brain doesn’t know the words to convey how amazing I think this book is. While I don’t think everyone will have the same soul-consuming reaction as me, I think this book is well worth the read. It’s a story about true friendship, what it means to be family, and finding out who you are and who you want to be. Let’s start with some things I LOVED about this book:

(Actually, before I do that, I want to say really quick that this book does feature a some instances of parental manipulation and abuse near the end, which I don’t touch on in this review but I still wanted to add in as a trigger warning in case you pick this book up because of my review. Okay that’s all, bye!)

The characters. I loved ALL of the characters, but specifically our main two, Frances and Aled. Frances is a quiet, studious girl whose dream is to get into Cambridge and study English Lit. To her friends at school, she’s quiet and awkward, and her only personality trait is responsible head girl. None of her friends know that she wears crazy sweaters and spends her free time making fan art for the very popular podcast, Universe City. Until she meets Aled, Frances really has no one that she can be herself around. As a quiet book nerd (who really wasn’t her true self until she was in college), I could really relate to Frances in this way. Aled is quiet and shy, but clever, creative, and so brilliant, it’s hard not to love him instantly. He’s complex and flawed, but all of those things make him such an interesting character to read about. I also liked how the characters read and acted like ACTUAL teenagers, it made the experience much more relatable, and I’m sure that I would have loved this book even more had I read it as a teen.

The relationships. You might read the synopsis of this book and think, “Oh, boy and girl meet, they fall in love, the end.” Well, my friend, I am happy to tell you, that is not the case, and I LOVE that about Radio Silence. It’s so refreshing to not read about romantic love. I’m so over reading typical love stories, I want platonic love and true honest to God friendships, and I’ll be damned if that’s not what Radio Silence gave me. Aled and Frances are like soulmates, two halves of the same person, but they are NOT into each other. I’m so here for it. More of that, please.

Diversity and representation. I think Alice Oseman did a fantastic job of incorporating so much diversity into this book without making it seem contrived. The entire main cast is so diverse both in terms of race and sexuality, and they’re all main characters with actual plots. It’s great seeing such wide representation in popular books, and it’s something that I actively search for in current reads.

This was definitely a 5 star read for me, and I really wish I would have picked it up sooner. This book gave me all of the cute squishy feelings that I’ve come to expect when reading anything from Alice Oseman, as well as moments where I just felt seen, and heard, and damn it I love that in a book. I honestly can’t recommend it enough, even if I can’t talk about it with any coherence. If you’ve read Radio Silence, let me hear your thoughts in the comments, and if you haven’t read it…. well, I can’t help you. Until next time y’all, happy reading.

-H.

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