Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Summary: “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—we don’t.
Frances Janvier spends most of her time studying. When she’s not studying, she’s up in her room making fan art for her favorite podcast, Universe City.
Everyone knows Aled Last as that quiet boy who gets straight As. But no one knows he’s the creator of Universe City, who goes by the name Radio Silence.
When Frances gets a message from Radio Silence asking if she’ll collaborate with him, everything changes. Frances and Aled spend an entire summer working together and becoming best friends. They get each other when no one else does.
But when Aled’s identity as Radio Silence is revealed, Frances fears that the future of Universe City—and their friendship—is at risk. Aled helped her find her voice. Without him, will she have the courage to show the world who she really is? Or will she be met with radio silence?” (Summary found on Goodreads).
It has been a long time since I have read a book that has captured me like Radio Silence did. This novel is so timely and accurate to teenager’s lives and I am so glad I have read it. As someone who is obsessed with her grades and now even more worried about getting into college, I felt Frances so much. The message that not everyone is made for a university is so important. While I know my future is in a four-year institution, the same cannot be said for everybody. There is a huge pressure on teenagers to know what they want to do with their lives and to go to college. Not going to college in our minds equates to failure and we’ll “never be successful”. That’s not true. So I am so grateful for Alice Oseman spreading this message.
“’It must be useful to be smart,’ she said and then laughed weakly. She glanced down and suddenly looked very sad. ‘I’m like, constantly scared I’m going to be a homeless or something. I wish our whole lives didn’t have to depend on our grades.'”
Anyway, what really made this book special was the characters and the diversity. Nearly everyone of these characters is marginalized and it was such a breath of fresh air. I especially loved that Frances and Aled were just friends throughout the entire book. Nothing more. Just friends. And it wasn’t treated as though they were missing something out of their friendship and neither of them had feelings for the other. All of the characters were so three-dimensional, even the side characters, like Daniel, Raine, and Carys. (Also Daniel and Aled forever <3)
“‘And I’m platonically in love with you.’
‘That was literally the boy-girl version of ‘no homo’, but I appreciate the sentiment.'”
I was scared to death at the ending when we weren’t really sure what was going to happen with Aled. SO SCARED. This book had me by my heartstrings and kept tugging on them. I really despise Aled’s mother. I didn’t know it was mentally possible to hate someone more than Dolores Umbridge, but here ya go. That isn’t how a parent should be–ever. Aled’s storyline really resonated with me and he reminded me a little too much of some of my friends. It just broke my heart in pieces to read about him and Carys. ALSO WHO KILLS A DOG??? WHO???
Frances, on the other hand, has a good relationship with her mom. I loved the contrast there and how it didn’t fall into the trap of every other YA book with absent parents. Her mom was very much present in her life and supportive of her obsession with Universe City. I love her mom.
“I wonder sometimes whether you’ve exploded already, like a star, and what I’m seeing you is three million years into the past, and you’re not here anyore. How can we be together here, now, when you are so far away. When you are so far ago? I’m shouting so loudly, but you never turn around to see me. Perhaps it is I who have already exploded. Either way, we are going to bring beautiful things into the universe.”
Anywaaaay, the podcast Universe City was super interesting and quirky. It really reflected Aled’s personality, despite him being really distant and reserved in public. Both him and Frances were the most unique characters I have ever read about, but I really felt that. They made me want to go to school decked out in fandom merch (which I do occasionally). Not going to lie, this book also made me want to delve into fanart and podcasts. I haven’t yet, but if anyone has podcast recommendations, leave them in the comments. They probably won’t be as amazing as Universe City, but I’m willing to try one.
Gah, the best thing about this book was it didn’t stray away from the struggles of being famous on the internet. All of the Universe City fans were wondering who the creator is and when they released who it is, became obsessed with Aled and extremely intrusive in his life, to the point of stalking him. It showed the negative side of creation and art, which I really liked. I’ve seen it all over Bookstagram, where people were getting too involved in some of the really popular account’s lives and becoming quite creepy (especially with the previous @readsleepfangirl–I can’t think of her current username right now). It’s insane how weird people can be with social media. And even more, I can think of how insane people get with Youtube stars, such as writing fanfiction about them getting together when they’ve been outspoken and against it.
Okay, I think I got off on a tangent.
But anyway, if my love for this book isn’t clear yet, then I’ve failed at my job. Gosh, I love this book so much. Sure, the first half was rather plotless and missing a “direction”, and it was rather long, but I don’t think I’d have it any other way. Sometimes, the most important books aren’t all that plot heavy at all. Sometimes the importance is in the message and the characters.
Now, watch me go out and read every book Oseman ever publishes.
“I wonder- if nobody is listening to my voice, am I making any sound at all?”