“Hello. I hope somebody is listening.“
Radio Silence is one of the best contemporary read I’ve ever encountered. Not maybe, not possibly. It just is. The story follows our protagonist, Frances, and her journey throughout high school. She’s a head girl, has perfect grades and wants to get into Cambridge. Little did people know, she’s also a fangirl who secretly obsesses with a sci-fi podcast called Universe City. And I think it’s incredibly clever of the author to had this particular name for the podcast, considering this is a coming of age story with major ‘I’m leaving high school and I’m going to university, I’m not sure if it’s the right thing for me but we’ll see.’ storyline.
Radio Silence by Alice Oseman
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.
Title: Radio Silence | Author: Alice Oseman | Genre: Contemporary • Young Adult | Publication Date: February 25, 2016 | Format: eBook | Source: AnyBooks | Read for: Diverse Divers Book Club, Beat the Backlist 2019, Goodreads Reading Challenge 2019, PopSugar Reading Challenge 2019 (Current progress) | Links: Book Depository (Affiliate)
“Being clever was, after all, my primary source of self-esteem. I’m a very sad person, in all senses of the word, but at least I was going to get into university.”
This story holds such a personal value for me. And I believe not just for me, but also for many other readers out there. I strongly relate to most of the characters in many varied aspects (which I will explain further in the next section). And although this is a character-driven story, I promise, the plot was not bad at all. In fact, it flowed easily (without losing its important value) and still very much enjoyable. I enjoyed the pace and how things lead from one to another. And my favorite part about Radio Silence is the matter of representation. The diverse characters, the mental illnesses, the stigmas. Alice Oseman did an amazing work by bringing up all of these issues without forcing it to be there just for the sake of it. And I truly appreciate that.
➪ Frances — Biracial, bisexual, and believes her future lies in academia. When I said I relate to her character, I’m not implying to the head girl and the perfect grades aspect, but rather to the insecure and lost aspect. Society told us that we need a good grade, so we can get a good job and have a good life. And all of that is coming from one root: be a good student. What I was trying to say is even when you did decent in school and university, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll figure out what you want to do in your life once you’re graduate and step out of the building. And these issues portrayed perfectly by Frances. Even when she gets perfect grades, even when she figures out that she wants to go to Cambridge ever since she was a kid, things may go differently and it’s okay to feel insecure and lost once in a while.
“I was going to be happy. Wasn’t I? I was. Uni, job, money, happiness. That’s what you do. That’s the formula. Everyone knows that. I knew that.”
➪ Aled — Gay, demisexual, shy, passionate, creative, and believes his future does not lie in academia, yet he gets forced into it. Throughout this book, I just want to hug Aled because HE DESERVES HAPPINESS. I can’t believe what he had to go through in his life and although I can’t relate to him as much as I can relate to Frances, his characters portrayed a classic situation of strict and controlling parents, which I believe that most of younger people nowadays can understand. The typical situation of ‘parents always right and kids always wrong’, kids are not allowed to share their opinion because they’re just kids, or maybe kids are allowed to speak up but it doesn’t matter anyway, again, because they’re just kids. Alice Oseman did an awesome job on describing this situation, and I just want to make people realize that just because it’s not happening to you or your family, doesn’t mean it’s not happening to others.
“I wonder — if nobody is listening to my voice, am I making any sound at all?”
➪ Daniel — Gay, Korean, Aled’s best friend, and believes he must get into university to make his family proud. Although in most books Asian describes as super-smart-it’s-almost-like-they’re-mutan-but-with-their-brain-instead, and usually follows by an explanation that their parents forced them to study 24/7, I’m glad that isn’t the case with Daniel. He’s actually, willingly, giving his best effort in school. Not because his parents force him or told him to, but because he wants to make them proud. As an Asian myself, this is something that I rarely find in YA books. Asian parents often described badly and didn’t care about anything but good grades, which is completely not true. I can’t speak on everyone’s behalf, but this is what I’m experiencing and so does most of my friends. But again, I’d like to appreciate and thank Alice Oseman for this beautiful representation of Asian students.
“…it felt like we were friends. Friends who barely knew anything about each other except the other’s most private secret.”
➪ Carys — Lesbian, Aled’s twin sister, and describes as the coolest person in the (hi)story. I wouldn’t disagree, though. Carys is that badass chick that looks super-intimidating at a glance but actually has a soft and caring inner side. I think her character adds more layers into the story, as we saw everyone that everyone’s into academic, but not with her (and Aled, of course). I don’t know but I just kinda wish that she had more appearance in this story just so we can dig deeper into her personality.
“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.”
➪ Raine — Pansexual, Indian, and everything you could wish for a best friend. Raine is also another character that I wish had more appearance in this story. But just from the few short scenes with her in it, you could already tell she’s the kindest, sweetest, most selfless person ever and the type of friend that you want to keep for years and years.
“I don’t know. I think I did my best.” Raine looked at me for a moment. “Well… that’s good? That’s all you can do.”
I’ve read this book over a month ago and I’m trying my best to recall my emotions about it. This book is obviously very character-driven, but it doesn’t mean it has a weak plot. I personally enjoyed the steady pace and a bit of mystery touch in it. It was predictable, but I think it adds more flavor and intensity. Aside from the obvious storyline that brought by the main characters, the additional part such as details about how fandom works or the casual text messages conversation was my other favorite thing, or types of different parents out there (I want to be adopted by Frances’ mom so badly!). These made the story more alive and relatable (as I believe so, especially for its target audiences).
“I stopped speaking. There was no point trying to argue. There was no way she was going to even attempt to listen to me. They never do, do they? They never even try to listen to you.”
Radio Silence was such an amazing contemporary, but it doesn’t leave the important representation of diversity and mental illnesses. I do believe that everyone should read this book, and not just young adults. There are so much more in this book than fandom talks or classic coming of age bits.