Radio Silence by Alice Oseman
Published: 25.02.2016 by HarperCollins Children’s Books
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Rating: 5/5 stars
Synopsis: 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.
I originally bought this book because Kyra @ Blog of a Bookaholic absolutely loved it, and it did sound pretty interesting to me. I finally picked it up because I wanted to participate in the #Bookentine readathon by Michelle & Ely @ Tea & Titles. I’m so glad I got that little push to pick this one up, because it blew my mind.
In all my time reading YA, and reading contemporary books, I have never come across a book I could relate to as much as this one. That made me sound really old, didn’t it? I hope you know what I mean. I actually felt like I knew Frances, that we were similar in so many ways, and that we would be great friends.
Here’s the thing: while I love stories filled with adventure or road trips and teenage (romantic) drama, that has never been my life. I’m very much an introvert. I don’t really like going to clubs or big friend groups. I do better with one-on-one conversations. There are many things I love fiercely, but don’t tell the people I know in real life about because I’m afraid they’d think I’m too weird. I was a good student. I didn’t really mind studying. Now that I am 22 years old, I love these aspects of my personality. I adore being an introvert. As a teenager, it made me feel like I was the lame or weird friend. I think reading a book like this, would have made me feel like I wasn’t alone, or weird.
Frances has always been someone very into studying. She wanted to become head girl, so she could get into Cambridge. A good university means a good life, right? That’s always been her focus. There’s one other thing she loves even more though: a YouTube podcast called University City. It’s about a futuristic place where the world has gone to crap and someone is stuck all alone inside of a university (I think). The person sends out radio broadcasts, hoping to find someone who is listening. Frances makes fan art for the podcast, which she sometimes posts on Tumblr too. Anonymous, of course. Then she meets a guy called Aled, and finds herself with a true friend for the first time.
I can’t tell you how much I adored this story, and these characters. Let me try though:
- This book is set in the UK. Somehow, I always feel closer to a teenager’s story when it’s set in the UK, rather than the US. I guess it’s a European Union thing -for now…
- This actually felt like a modern YA read. I know what you’re thinking: contemporaries are always modern, Jolien! Yes, I know. But I feel like the references made in this book were things I, as a young woman, understood. Instead of these weird 80s references that no teenager now actually makes.
- Frances is so relateable. Even though there are so many aspects of her I can’t relate to, I still feel like I am her.
- There is so much diversity in this book, without it feeling like it’s centered around it. Frances is British-Ethiopian. Daniel is Korean. She’s bisexual, something she has known for years (she’s 17 while this story takes place). This book also includes homosexuality and demisexuality -although I feel the latter could’ve been expanded on more.
- Family is important as well. In one of the reviews I read on this book, it mentioned the bad parenting trope happening here too. I actually don’t think that’s the case. Yes, there is bad parenting in it. But there is great parenting too. Frances’ mom is honestly an incredible mother. She knows her daughter so well, and is so accepting, supporting and kind. I think she’s the kind of mother we should all aspire to be/support one day.
- Friendship is what this book is actually about. Is it weird that I find that so refreshing? This book isn’t about a grand romance which let’s be real, most of us don’t get at 17 years old. It’s about being a good friend, finding a friend who you can really be yourself with and how to help each other out.
- Education. I like that this book addresses the problems with our Western educational system. So many of us are led to believe that the only way we’ll have a good life is if we get a degree from the best school ever. And that’s just not true. Traditional education is not for everyone. It doesn’t suit everyone. There are people who thrive in real life situations, instead of in a school system. We need to be shown our other options too, which is something this book addresses.
I could honestly go on for ages about this book. There are so many things I loved about it. I don’t think I have ever read a book like this. I felt like I was engulfed in a giant hug, while I was reading this. Saying: it’s okay. Not every teenager is all about partying. Not every teenager has a huge clique of friends. Not every teenager has this big romantic story, and/or finds the love of their life in high school. You’re great the way you are.
I would encourage everyone to read this. Even if you would normally not pick up a YA contemporary. I think this is the kind of book most people could find something to appreciate in. Thank you, Kyra and Michelle, for urging me to pick this up. I appreciate it.
As I’m writing this, I’m kind of hoping Alice Oseman will be at #YALC. I’m going this year, and I don’t think the authors have been announced yet. I would love to meet her.