Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publication Date: March 28, 2017 (originally published February 25, 2016 in UK)
Publisher: HarperTeen (originally published by Harper Collins Children’s Books in UK)
Synopsis: 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?
I first heard about this book pretty recently so when it was published, I immediately put it on hold at the library. When it recently became available, I checked it out from the library and brought it home with me. This past Sunday afternoon I was bored so I went looking on my bookshelves for something to read. Since I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to read, I took a couple books off the shelf and planned to read a few pages of each of them before deciding which one I would commit to. I started with Radio Silence and I was immediately drawn in! Before I knew it, I had read 100 pages! So obviously, I didn’t even end up opening the other book.
I ended up enjoying this book so, so much! I completely FLEW through it. In about 7 hours I had finished the almost 500 page book! I can’t remember the last time I read a book of this length in that short amount of time! One of my favorite parts of the book were the characters. They were so fantastic and dynamic! I especially loved that this book focused on a friendship between a girl and a guy with no romance between them whatsoever. This doesn’t usually occur in books, especially YA ones, so it was a really nice change! The friendship between the main character, Frances, and Aled was spectacular. They had known each other for a few years but hadn’t really talked despite living across the street from one another. I loved how their friendship really bloomed once they got through that awkward stage that most new friends experience. They went from shyly complimenting each other’s clothes and messaging each other on Facebook to hanging out constantly and saying they were platonically in love with one another. It was just so great!
Another aspect I loved about this book was all the diverse rep it had! The main character, Frances, is biracial and bisexual and there are also gay characters, an ace-spectrum (most likely demisexual) character, and several people of color. As an ace person myself, I thought this was incredibly cool to actually see asexuality discussed and named! While it wasn’t a huge part of the story, it was still so awesome to see the words in a book! Hopefully this will continue in other books (especially YA) so that people that don’t currently have the vocabulary for what they’re feeling could discover it. In addition to the on-the-page discussion of asexuality and demisexuality, gender identity was also talked about on multiple occasions.
Moving onto the plot! This book was centered around Aled’s Youtube podcast series called Universe City that he has been making for two years. Frances has been a listener and avid fan of the series since the very beginning. When she’s not busy studying, Frances spends the rest of her time creating fan art based on the podcast and posting them under a pseudonym on Tumblr. The two become friends when Frances accidentally finds out that Aled is the creator of Universe City and they bond over the series and a multitude of other things, including their many similarities. Eventually, Frances contributes to the podcast by officially making art for it and even starring in some episodes. At this point, no one else besides Aled, Aled’s friend Daniel, and Frances know that Aled is the one who created Universe City and Aled would like to keep it that way.
Another big part of this book had to do with school – specifically preparing for university. The book showed how many different characters dealt with school and also how much pressure there was – from family, society, and themselves – to study hard and get into a good university. Frances in particular has had her sights set on Cambridge ever since she began exceeding in school when she was young. She felt that just because she was good at school, she had the obligation to go to university. Frances also thought that the only way to happiness was to get into Cambridge, graduate with a degree, and get a good job. Throughout the course of the novel, Frances discovers that attending Cambridge and studying something she isn’t passionate about isn’t going to make her happy. This book really emphasized that while some do achieve happiness from attending university, others do not – and that that’s okay!
Overall, this book was so fun and addictive to read. Like I said previously, I finished the book in 7 hours so obviously I couldn’t put it down! In addition to this, Radio Silence was also super relatable and a book I think a lot of people would really enjoy! Even if you’re not a huge contemporary reader, I urge you to give this book a chance. Personally, I’m really, really glad I decided to pick it up!