Author: Alice Oseman
Page Count: 474
Original Publication Date: 2016
Genre(s): Young adult, Contemporary
I hope somebody is listening.
I wonder–if nobody is listening to my voice, am I making any sound at all?”
Frances Janvier feels like two separate people: there’s school Frances, who is quiet, plain, studious—boring; then there’s the real Frances, who loves patterned leggings, watching movies and eating pizza with her mum, and drawing fan art for her favorite podcast, Universe City. The podcast is voiced by the anonymous Radio Silence, and Frances is literally its biggest fan. So when she gets a message on Tumblr from Radio, asking if she’ll collaborate and make art for the show, she is beyond ecstatic. She even discovers Radio’s identity, and the two become fast friends. But when the whole world finds out Radio’s identity, things change for both of them, and not for the better.
Radio Silence is told in first-person POV from Frances’s perspective. It’s set in England, so obviously I read the entire thing in a British accent inside my head, because why not. It’s very much a layered story, not just focusing on Frances and her friendship with Radio (AKA Aled—that is not a spoiler, it is in the synopsis of the book, I promise)—and that’s all it is, by the way. No matter how much you may ship the two characters, it is not meant to be. They do not fall in love. This is not a love story. It’s more about friendship, and sexuality, and social media/fame, and the pressures of school when you’re a teenager, and feeling forced into college/university because that’s literally the only option presented to you by the education system. It’s a wonderful novel that surprised me not only story-wise, but also just emotionally. I did not think this book would make me cry!
Something that really stuck out to me while reading was the polar opposite-ness of Frances’s mum and Aled’s. Immediately I was in love with Frances’s mum—they are open and honest with each other, they trust each other, they watch movies and eat pizza together. Seriously I have never been more mom-envious! And then there’s Aled’s mum: distrustful of her children, controlling, ruthless, grades above all else, fake in public and evil at home—just an all-out bad parent. And she, of course, reminded me of my own mom, so I really felt for Aled. I think maybe some people might not understand what it’s like to have a parent like that, so maybe they sometimes questioned Aled’s decisions or way of thinking, but I understood 100%, and it was heartbreaking.
I was also very intrigued in the way I instinctively wanted to ship Frances and Aled. Like, we’re told they don’t fall in love, and yet I wanted them to. We later find out both Frances’s and Aled’s sexuality, and even THEN I still liked the idea of them as a couple. But that’s because I’m a huge sucker for a love story. But that’s not how real life works. The girl doesn’t always fall in love with the boy. And I think that’s super important to remember. I think this story was really powerful and was right to not turn into a love story. I think making Frances and Aled fall in love would have messed up the story entirely, no matter how much I love a love story. So, yeah. I really like that Oseman’s novels aren’t stereotypical and kind of stray from the norm.
I really love Oseman’s writing just in general, too. It’s very casual. Choppy, fast, dialogue-heavy. It’s uniue and works so well with her stories. Radio Silence is only my second experience reading her works, but I’m excited to keep reading more. Her stories absorb me the same way Rainbow Rowell’s do, and it’s so nice to just get lost in them. I highly recommend Radio Silence, especially if you’re a love story lover like me—it’ll help you see that not every story needs to be a romantic one.
–“Being clever was, after all, my primary source of self-esteem. I’m a very sad person, in all senses of the word, but at least I was going to get into university.”
–“I wish I could be as subtle and beautiful. All I know how to do is scream.”
–“Sometimes I think if nobody spoke to me, I’d never speak again.”