This book has been on my radar for a very long time. I was aware of Alice Oseman long before I started blogging, thanks to her adorable webcomic Heartstopper (it’s free on Tapas, please read it!) But I’ve never read one of her books. When I decided to change that, I knew the first book had to be Radio Silence. It’s about a schoolgirl struggling with pressure and an unsure future (hello, high school me!) and I’d heard rumours of a demisexual character (also me!). I was also promised a story of friendship and platonic love. Yes, platonic love! So rare I don’t remember the last novel I read without a romantic subplot.
I went into this story with high expectations, and it delivered everything I wanted it to.
Radio Silence by Alice Oseman Review
The thing that strikes me about Alice Oseman’s writing, in both her books and her comic Heartstopper, is how incredibly real it is. She is an honest writer, talking to her own generation in a way that few others do.
Upon reading any of her works it is abundantly clear that she understands and, most importantly, is part of the Internet generation. There’s knowledge and experience there that older writers of YA simply can’t quite mimic, despite their efforts. Everything she writes, the sentiments she expresses, are just so relatable and reflect every aspect of the modern teenage experience. Tumblr, YouTube, fan art and fandom are all handled in an authentic way that only someone who’s been there could pull off.
She doesn’t shy away from tough topics, either. This book deals with stress, academic pressure, existential crisis, abuse, sexuality, anxiety and depression, and the realities of life on the Internet. It shows the best and the worst of people. It shows how complicated it is to be a teenager. It tells the truth.
Frances Janvier, study-machine and Cambridge University shoo-in, is torn between the two halves of herself – School Frances and Real Frances. Her whole life has revolved around getting into Cambridge – University, good job, lots of money, happiness. That’s the formula for life, right? When a chance encounter (seriously, such a ridiculous coincidence that it’s the most unrealistic part of this book) sees her suddenly working with the Creator of her favourite podcast as the show’s artist she finds out there might just be more to life than studying.
This is a book that celebrates platonic love – something so rare I can hardly remember the last time I read a book that didn’t feature a romance for the main character.
You probably think that Aled Last and I are going to fall in love or something. Since he is a boy and I am a girl.
I just wanted to say –
Aside from the honest and real portrayal of teenage life (sorry to keep reiterating it, but seriously, this was so important), the representation in this book made my heart happy. Towards the end, one of the characters comes out as demisexual. The word is used on-page, along with an explanation from the character of what it means. As a demisexual person myself, this just meant a lot. Ace-spectrum representation is so rare in books that it really stands out to me. (If this excites you as much as me, you may like to know the author is releasing Loveless, an own-voices novel about an aro-ace main character next year!)
If you’ve ever been part of a fandom, felt the pressure of school, or been unsure about your future, read this book. Please, read this book.
What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?
Frances has been a study machine with one goal. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside. Then Frances meets Aled, and for the first time she’s unafraid to be herself.
So when the fragile trust between them is broken, Frances is caught between who she was and who she longs to be. Now Frances knows that she has to confront her past. To confess why Carys disappeared…
Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has.
Have you read Radio Silence? What about Alice Oseman’s other creations?
Chat with me in the comments!