Title: Radio Silence
Author: Alice Oseman
Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books
UK Release Date: 25th February 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT+
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.
If you follow me on Twitter, you will know how much I love this book, because every time there is discussion initiated around the best books of 2016 (or indeed the best YA books I’ve ever read), Radio Silence is always one of my top picks. It’s also featured on lots of other posts I’ve done on this blog, such as this one about books by YA Shot authors that I loved, and my favourite books of 2016 so far. I absolutely loved Alice Oseman’s debut novel, Solitaire, so I had no idea how she was going to top that, but somehow she did.
For me, the theme that really stood out across the book was exam pressure and the importance placed on doing well. Frances has ‘School Frances’ and ‘Real Frances’, and feels like the most important part of her life is her academic success. Her main – and initially only – focus is getting into Cambridge to study English. Across the book, Frances learns how to be herself, something which her friendship with Aled helps with, and her priorities start shifting as the story progresses. I thought her character arc was absolutely incredible, and overall Frances’ journey was definitely very impactful on the reader.
Another thing I think I have to draw attention to about the book is the prominence of the internet within it. Alice Oseman uses popular internet culture in both her books; in Soltaire, the characters have blogs (not named, but implied to be tumblr), and in Radio Silence, the characters use tumblr for fan blogs and YouTube for one of the main features of the book, the podcast, and Facebook to talk to one another. I found it so interesting to see how Alice Oseman wove in internet culture and fandom terminology, and overall it was an integral part of the book which definitely increased my enjoyment of it.
The final thing I’d like to draw attention to is how outstandingly diverse Radio Silence is. You might have seen that I did a post on 5 diverse book recommendations as part of Diversity Month at Luna’s Little Library, and Radio Silence was at the top of my list for it. The characters were a range of ethnicities (there was a fantastic scene where Frances and Daniel discussed how they wished they’d embraced their heritage more), and there were so many different sexualities covered by the character – I’d never read about a demisexual character until Radio Silence. I’d also like to mention the brief chapter in which Frances explicitly states that her and Aled are friends and friends alone, as I loved how this book was not primarily about romance, and that a boy-girl friendship was portrayed in a strong and non-romantic way.
Overall, this book is one that I will be recommending to pretty much everyone, as I feel like there is something in it for everyone, and with that the only thing I can really say now is to go and read it if you haven’t already!