After reading I Was Born For This and absolutely loving it, I decided to pick up the other two books Alice Oseman has written to see whether I’d love them just as much. I picked up Radio Silence first and really enjoyed it. It plunged me back into teenage years of stressing through exams and worrying about the future.
Frances is 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 she 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 she knows that she has to confront her past. To confess why Carys, Aled’s sister, disappeared. Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has.
There are so many themes covered in this book. Exam stress, school pressure, worries about future, conforming to societal norms, even parental abuse is touched on. I felt for every single character in this book, especially Aled. He was so relatable and definitely a character that I’d be happy to see more of in future.
The book follows Frances, study-obsessive and determined to get into Cambridge university to study English Lit. She’s driven and determined, to the point where friendships are pushed to the side in favour of work. Her friends know practically nothing about her – not about her love for colourful, wacky clothes and not her love for unusual YouTube channel Universe City. Frances listens to these on her own between study sessions, and draws fanart in her own time. When the Creator of the channel contacts her about collaborating and using her art for the show, Frances is torn. On one hand, it’ll allow her to really push her art and enjoy working for the show she’s loved for ages. On the other hand, doing so will cause her to be distracted from studying and from work, which she really doesn’t want to do. It’s really interesting to see her character develop and become confused over whether or not she should jump at the chance and do the art.
The friendship between Frances and Aled is one of the loveliest I’ve seen in contemporary teen books. There’s no budding romance between them, no jealousy, and their friendship grows slowly and naturally. They help each other come out of their shells and to be themselves; Frances allows her true self to come to light after meeting Aled, something that she shut off due to fear of judgement. Radio Silence also deals with pressures to go to university and that being the only path in life. I know many people who didn’t go to university and who are happy with their lives, and vice versa. It’s important to know what is best for you, and Radio Silence shows that through different characters discovering their path in life. Life isn’t A to Z and straightforward, and there is never a perfect set path. The book shows this through character worry, confusion, and is so relatable to my college years spent worrying whether uni would be a great choice for me. It’s scary how perfect Alice seemed to nail this feeling through her writing.
Once again with Alice’s books, the topic of sexuality is handled so well and so naturally. There are no token characters here, and Aled’s asexuality is dealt with carefully and considerately. Frances’ bisexuality is something she hides to begin with, worried about what people would think, but as her character grows with more confidence so does her pride.
Final thought: A book about the importance of listening to your own self; it’s the most important voice in your life. 4/5