Book Review: Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

Radio Silence

Publisher: Harper Collins

Date of Publication: February 26th, 2016

Dates Read: April 28, 2016 – May 5, 2016

Description:

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.

Buy It From: Book Depository

My Rating: ★★★★★

I don’t even know where to begin with this book. I don’t think there’s anything that I didn’t love about it – except for Aled’s mom, because I hate Aled’s mom. Anyway, this review might be a little all over the place because that’s what happens to my brain when I think about this book.

First of all, Alice Oseman is such a talented author. I mean, you guys know me, and you know that I tend to not like books that are too close to the mundanity (is that even a word?) that is life. But Ms. Oseman here has a knack for writing about life in such a way that really draws me into the book and never bores me. If anybody else had written this, I probably would not have liked it as much as I do, but this author is so amazing at writing about life so of course I loved it.

The short chapters of this book really worked with the story and writing. Some of them were a little longer, but there were also little chapters that at first may seem like filler, but actually hold important insights into the characters and the subplots. As a person who is impatient and doesn’t like long chapters, I very much enjoyed this aspect.

Okay so characters: Hooray for a diverse cast! This book has lots of POC characters, and lots of non-heterosexual sexual orientations that are named aloud, none of this dance-around-the-word stuff (I feel like there’s a better way for me to word this but I can’t think of it right now. You know what I mean, right?). Aside from this, I really did enjoy the cast of characters – their differences were very clearly marked, and yet they just worked so well together. You could really feel the chemistry between them, even when it’s not romantic chemistry. That reminds me: boy-girl friendships!!! The importance of platonic relationships!!! I love it!!!

Oh, and I really really liked the relationship between Frances and her mother – I always love seeing strong mother-daughter bonds.

And the plot: I can see where some people might find the beginning a little slower, but I truly enjoyed every single part of this book. It is interesting and realistic and at times had my heart pounding in suspense. It is honestly so well written; so emotional, so heart-wrenching, so relatable, a very attention-holding read.

One of the things I really liked about this book is its portrayal of fandom culture. Like yeah being famous has its merits, but Radio Silence also shows how truly terrifying, stalker-ish, and aggressive fans can be, especially in this digital age. And I think it’s so important for this side of fame to be brought up because it really shows how fans can easily dehumanize and bully their favourite celebrities – imagine if people who act like this read this book and understood how their actions negatively impact these celebrities. Imagine the discussion this book could start!

And I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about one of the biggest points of this book: university. Fair warning, this next little bit of my review is going to be quite anecdotal.

I really understand how Daniel feels – that all he’s got is his intelligence, and if he doesn’t do well in school then he basically has nothing. I remember feeling like that in my last year of high school. I, too, was only ever the smart kid, and for a long time the only compliments I ever received were on how intelligent I was, so of course I thought the only thing I had going for me was my brain. That’s a lot of pressure to put on an 18 year old. Now that I am in university I know that it’s not true, that I’ve got more than just my brains, but it took a while to get here.

To this day, though, I can still kind of identify with Frances and her need to go to a prestigious university because it’s what everyone thinks she should do with that brain of hers. I was the valedictorian of my high school graduating class, and I know that valedictorians before and after me ended up going to university for “smart people” programs, like medical school and engineering. Meanwhile, I’m here studying anthropology and earth science – I originally went for Forensic Science, which interested everybody I spoke to, but now when I tell people my program they’re kind of like “oh okay” and change the subject, because my new program isn’t as interesting as my old one. Of course that stings a little, because it seems like people are disappointed in me. But, listen, if I had chosen to stay in a program that would interest people, I know for a fact that I would be in a bad place mentally, maybe physically, so I definitely do not regret being selfish and choosing my own path instead of the path that would make people like me.

So basically I am super duper happy with how this book handled the topic of university, and the pressures that Western society puts on us to go to school and make money, as if it’s the only way to get by in life. This is another very important discussion that this book could spark, if only more people read it!

Overall: I can’t say enough good things. Just read it already!

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4 thoughts on “Book Review: Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

  1. […] I don’t know if it’s necessarily that underrated but another book I want everyone, particularly teenagers, to read is Radio Silence by Alice Oseman. Diverse characters, important discussions about school and life, a careful look into fandom culture – this book was so interesting and intense and I loved every second of it. Once again, you can read the description on Goodreads HERE, and my review can be found HERE. […]

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