Details & Summary
“I couldn’t quite believe how much I seriously loved Aled Last, even if it wasn’t in the ideal way that would make it socially acceptable for us to live together until we die.”
Radio Silence had been on my TBR for ages. The blurb sounded interesting, many people recommended it to me because the book focuses on a non-romantic relationship (!) a.k.a. a friendship between a boy and a girl, and is very inclusive in general. It’s safe to say I had a lot of expectations and I’m pleased to say Radio Silence did not disappoint. Here’s why Radio Silence is one of my favourites YA books of the year… and of all-time.
Let’s start with the friendship between Frances and Aled. If I were to describe it with one word I’d say it’s “refreshing”. It’s refreshing because very, very few YA books feature a platonic relationship between a boy and a girl. They might start out as best friends but they always end up together in the end. But not Frances and Aled. The author even addresses it in the book.
“I just sort of want to say something before we continue.
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 –
I love how Oseman took her time developing their friendship. They didn’t become best friends over night. There are a lot of first, awkward conversations but the more time Frances and Aled spend together, the closer they get. Eventually, their friendship turns into this:
(00:00) Frances Janvier
HAPPY BIRTHDAY HOPE YOU’RE FEELING PARTY AF
LOVE U LOADS U BEAUTIFUL MAN
CAN’T BELIEVE MY SMALL BUDDY IS A MAN NOW
(00:02) Aled Last
why are you tormenting me with cringe messages like this
(00:03) Frances Janvier
(00: 03) Aled Last
thank u tho luv u (✿♥‿♥)
(00:04) Frances Janvier”
THAT was cringe m8
(00:04) Aled Last
that was payback “
Both Frances and Aled are incredibly relatable and all in all very interesting people. I say people because they never felt like characters in a book.
Frances appears to be a study machine who only cares about school and getting into Cambridge. Everyone basically sees her as a nerd with a very bland personality. What they don’t know is that she has two sides to her personality: School Frances and Real Frances. Real Frances is obsessed with Universe City – a podcast that goes viral – creates fan art, and wears “weird” (amazing!) clothes (such as Monsters Inc leggins).
“Everyone’s different inside their head.”
And then there’s Aled who also appears to be kind of a nerd who has 0 personality but actually turns out to be the creator of Universe City. Aled and Frances bond over their love for Universe City, but, also, they’re both massive fangirls / boys and they just work really well together. I loved them.
Aside from the main characters, there’s Daniel (Head Boy of Frances’s school and her “rival”) and Raine. At first, Daniel is a bit competitive and kind of a jerk. I can’t tell you why because of spoilers, but there’s’ a lot more to him. By the end he was actually one of my favourite characters. Speaking of favourites, Raine Sengupta is amazing. She’s the kind of person who says what she wants whenever she wants, which makes for great lines.
“Is that an ‘Oh my God you look absolutely ridiculous’?” I said, getting into the passenger seat, “because that’s an understandable reaction.”
“No, I mean I didn’t know you were so … pop punk. I thought I was gonna have to corrupt the nerdy one, but … you’re not actually a nerd, are you?”
She appeared to be being genuine.
“This is real, this is me,” I said.
She blinked. “Did you just quote Camp Rock at me? That’s not very pop punk.”
“I’ve gotta go my own way.”
“Okay, firstly, that’s High School Musical …”
I think it’s obvious but I’ll say it just in case: I love, love, love the diversity in this book. Frances is biracial (Ethiopian) and bisexual, Daniel is South-Korean, and Aled is demisexual. Obviously, it’s hard for me to judge all these representation but they felt accurate to me.
Oh, and there’s also a plot! Sometimes, a book has great characters but 0 plot, but that’s not the case. Radio Silence isn’t just about being yourself and figuring out who that person is. It’s also about going against expectations and finding your own path.
But there’s so much more. I haven’t even mentioned the mystery that is Carys Last (Aled’s sister and the girl Frances had a crush on) who just ran away from home one day, the way internet fame and lack of privacy is handled, or Aled’s abusive mother. It’s no surprise the book is 500 pages long, which seems like a lot, but I promise you it’s absolutely worth it.
I wish I’d read a book like Radio Silence when I was a teenager. I believe it should be required reading for every teenager today because it truly is Catcher in the Rye for the digital age (as it’s marketed). Alice Oseman delivers a story about finding out and embracing who you are, enjoying creativity, and seeing life as having more than one path.