Monica (Tomes Project)'s Reviews > Radio Silence

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman
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Dec 27, 2016

it was amazing
bookshelves: books-i-own, released-2017, 2017, favorites

Wow. As a general rule, I'm not the biggest fan of contemporary YA, NA, etc. But I absolutely adored this book from beginning to end. I will say that I think this is a wonderful book to go into without knowing anything other than that it's incredibly diverse in all the most wonderful ways. The main character is bisexual and biracial and among the side characters, there are varying races and sexualities including lesbian, gay, and demisexual. This book has a lot of layers, and I think it's best to go into this book fairly blind and discover them all for yourself because I think it's just too well written for me to tell you all about it.

(However, if you're still skeptical, I will talk about the basic premise first and then delve into my thoughts on the characters starting now.)

Layer 1: Let's start with the thing that I was happiest with when starting out the book (because I went into this knowing exactly as much as I told you at the beginning): Universe City. I had no idea that this book features a podcast. The podcast is called Universe City, obvs, and the idea of it was heavily inspired by Welcome to Nightvale but it's more like Nightvale meets Doctor Who. It speaks to me. That's one of those layers that I mentioned earlier. (And it's possibly my favorite.) Anyway, this podcast is made anonymously and uploaded to YouTube. No one knows who the Creator is, but Frances is a huge fan of it and has a Tumblr and about a dozen notebooks dedicated to drawings of the characters from the show. She's pretty well known within the community, and one day she gets a DM on Twitter from the Creator asking her to do some official art for the show. Awesome, right?

Layer 2: Carys Last, an ex-friend of Frances, is missing. This is something you pretty much know from page one, but it's something that's revealed bit by bit throughout the story and I don't want to spoil you because it's done really, really well.

Layer 3: Okay, so this isn't really a "layer" but it kind of is? This book takes place in England and the main character is finishing up her A-levels and about to go to university. (Did I say that right? I'm an American and British school is so confusing.) But despite how I've definitely never been to Britain and all of my exposure has come from vloggers on YouTube, nothing in here was hard to understand. Everything they said made sense, and I kind of actually understood British schooling for 0.2 seconds, which is an improvement.

The writing was fantastic. It's told in 1st person, but it's told in such a way that it feels like you're sitting down with Frances (the main character and narrator) and she's just telling you a story. For the most part, it's linear. However, there are a few interjections that are told from "present-day" Frances directly telling the reader about something. This only happens a few times, and I thought they were done really well.

Okay, so let's move on to my other favorite aspect to this story: the characters. This is a character-driven story, and that's partially why I loved it so much. Oseman focuses a lot on created flawed, rounded characters that all have definite arcs throughout the story. I mean, we start out with Frances and she's a total Hermione/Rory Gilmore. She's head girl, gets perfect grades, she loves art, and all she's wanted for a long time is to go to Cambridge and study English literature. I really enjoyed her character, and I thought how Alice Oseman discussed her sexuality was done very well. (Note: I'm not bisexual, so it's not really for me to say; however, from my viewpoint, it was done well and respectfully.)

Before I jump to Aled, I need to say something briefly. One of the themes throughout this novel is that societal norms are just that: norms. It's not a requirement. It's not required that you go to university, even though that's what we're told all our lives. It's not required that you have a label on your sexuality. For some people it helps, it gives them a sense of belonging. For others, it's just another thing that's required of them that they don't necessarily want. That's Aled.

At the end of the book, Aled does define himself as demisexual. It's not used as a plot-twist in any way, but for Aled, labels aren't important and his sexuality isn't something that he believes should be of any concern to other people. It's his own.

Saying that, I. ADORE. ALED. I am so happy with Aled's character that I was actually sobbing near the end of the book when Aled's sexuality starts to be discussed. For a quick minute, I was very worried that this book would be celebrating gay, lesbian, and bisexual characters but be ace-phobic because of one event that happens in the book. I was so scared that Aled was starting to be villanized as a character that I put the book down and could force myself to pick it up for a week or so. If that's you, keep going.

One really small thing that I also really enjoyed about this story before (finally) finishing this review: we get a great discussion on parents in this book. We get to see different types of parents. One of these parents is horrible and neglects (and at times emotionally abuses) their child. This is clearly discussed as a negative thing. It's clearly shown through the contrast of Frances's wonderful and involved mother that the actions of the aforementioned parent are wrong.

There are a lot of really important discussions in this book. If you haven't picked it up, please do. And if you're in the US, please remember this book come March when it releases.

+

(early hours of 2/28/17):
holy shit. I'm in tears. this is amazing. RTC (probably in the morning)
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Reading Progress

December 27, 2016 – Shelved
December 27, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
February 11, 2017 – Shelved as: books-i-own
February 11, 2017 – Shelved as: released-2017
February 12, 2017 – Started Reading
February 12, 2017 –
page 74
18.36% "The mom: "You're an idiot. Not an unintelligible idiot, but a short of naïve idiot who manages to into a difficult situation and then can't get out of it because she's too awkward." STORY OF MY LIFE"
February 13, 2017 –
page 136
33.75% "This is a amazing."
February 23, 2017 –
page 274
67.99% "How does this not come out in the US until March?
Get it from Book Depository or count down the days on a calendar. You need to read this."
February 27, 2017 – Shelved as: 2017
February 28, 2017 – Shelved as: favorites
February 28, 2017 – Finished Reading

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