This Review contains spoilers.
“I wonder – if nobody is listening to my voice, am I making any sound at all?”
Published: 2016, by Harper Collins Children’s Books.
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, LGBT
Contains: Strong Language, Alcohol, implied Mental Health
‘Radio Silence’ tells the story of Frances, an A-Level student preparing for University, and feels as if she has to separate two sides of herself to do so. After getting to know shy genius, Aled Last, she discovers he’s the creator of her favourite podcast, Universe City, and a deep friendship grows. However, when University pressures overwhelm them, they’re torn between their passion and expectations.
I adore this book. After managing to read it in less than twenty-four hours, it’s all I’ve been able to think about. This book is one I wish I had a few years ago when I was discovering my own career plans, yet brought me comfort now anyway.
The characters dominated the story throughout, driving the plot along with their development between relationships and future goals, until the comforting climax knowing they were able to succeed in their passions. Frances as a protagonist was wonderful to follow, her personality making it impossible not to route for her, and her relationship with Aled was refreshing. The pair became fast friends after discovering her interest in his podcast, yet it was made clear fairly early on that their relationship was solely platonic:
“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 –
What an iconic move! As someone who eye-rolls at most contemporary fiction, it was incredible to read this, already having doubts of the direction their relationship was heading. However, their humorous dialogue and wonderful friendship dynamics were heart-warming to read.
Aled’s character was another reason for my love for this story; this man is inspiring. Known as a fairly timid guy at the beginning of the story, he gradually opens up once Frances gets acquainted with him, and it was beautiful to read his development throughout the story. His struggles at university were personally relatable, and once managing to finally stand against his families wishes it highlighted his battles and inner strength. However, what I loved about him the most was his sexuality. Having a character define themselves as demisexual without using anything other than the correct terminology is unfortunately rare in YA fiction, and I adored its use in this book. Oseman allowed Aled to explain the meaning to boyfriend Daniel, who accepted it immediately and cleared any confusion for readers on the subject. Frances’ bisexuality and Daniel’s homosexuality were also explored beautifully, telling a story about LGBT+ young people, without their sexuality being the dominant issue in their lives; it’s main purpose being to critique on the social and academic pressures young people face in modern society. And I love that.
Overall, I love this book so much. A realist book set in modern England is so rare in YA and I’m so thankful for Oseman for putting the struggles of young people into words in such a beautiful way, whilst including the LGBT+ community and having protagonists of colour. It’s refreshing to read, and I believe everyone should read this novel. It’s powerful, heart-warming and fun.