Allgemein, P - T, R, Reviews

Review: Radio Silence (Alice Oseman)

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

Book 33 on My Book List 2019

”Hello. I hope somebody is listening.”

I think by now this quote made its way into the most epic quotes of all time and I can totally understand all the hype this book got. When I joined goodreads back in 2017 “Radio Silence” was all over my feed and people were raving about it like crazy. I had no idea what all the fuss was about but three years later and countless books in between I finally get it. XD Alice Oseman’s book is amazing, epic, brilliant and most of all it’s relatable af!

As an author it’s not easy to capture the voice of a generation but I think Oseman did it masterfully. Truth be told, it’s more than the voice of a generation, it’s the voice of many generations that all went through the same thing. Did I lose you already? What I’m trying to say is that this book is timeless because it speaks to every teenager and young adult that ever went through adolescence.

“Radio Silence” tackles the strong bonds of friendships you only seem to have as a teen, it addresses the insecurities of young adults, the urgency and intensity of emotions, it shows that our educational system is far from perfect and that good grades aren’t everything in life, it makes room for individualism and it demonstrates that parents can influence their children in the best but also in the worst way possible. It plays with the idea of the internet as a medium that can connect people all over the world but it also illustrates how easy it is to hurt people and their privacy.

Seriously, this book gives so many thought-provoking impulses it’s hard to write it all into a summary, which only seems to emphasise my earlier statement of Oseman’s skill to capture the voice of a generation. People are complex, relationships are complicated and the way to your true self is paved with plenty of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. So just another ordinary day in the life of a young adult, right? ;-P

trigger warnings: emotional parental abuse, depression (implied),  suicidal thoughts (heavily implied), online bullying, teens drinking alcohol

2

This is my spoilery spoiler section and if you haven’t already read the book: Well, pirates ye be warned! ;-P This said: Welcome to Universe City, I’m sure you’ll have a lovely time with Radio and his sidekicks!

Frances Janvier:

”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.”

I really liked Frances! I mean I was never as good at school as her but I kind of admire her for getting good grades while following her obsession with “Radio Silence”. It’s no small feat and I really appreciated the idea of a character that’s good at school but also has a very creative streak. =) For some reason this is pretty rare in books and I don’t know why. XD Also the distinction between “School Frances” and “Normal Frances “ was amazing and very relatable. As a teen a lot of us are insecure and act differently when they are around their friends so this was such a great way to represent that sentiment. Also now is the moment I have to mention that I want Aled’s and France’s wardrobe! *lol* Seriously, their clothes are amazing! ❤ I would have loved to get my hands on them. Haha! Anyway, back to Frances as a character! I loved her compassion and that she always tried to do the right thing and was very responsible. Plus she was a really great friend! I hope we’ll see more of her in other books but I’m not sure she’s going to be in one of the others?! Guess I’ll have to find out.

”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.”

Aled Last:

”it’s honestly fine!!!! what’s up?
if you’re feeling crap it’s always better to talk about it“

I really wish Aled would have taken his own advice! I know he’s the silent, withdrawn and broody kind of type but a lot of his problems could have been tackled if he would have just talked about them. Then again his mother certainly didn’t make it easy to develop some self-esteem, let alone to talk about his problems. (I’m so angry at his mom btw!!!) I felt so, so sorry for him and I was glad Frances and Daniel were able to see the true Aled. My heart really bled for this boy and it made me so sad that his mother couldn’t see how beautiful he was! ❤ I mean he made a podcast thousands of people followed and listened to, they even made fanart of it and yet his mother had nothing better to do than to destroy every little piece of him. >_< It killed me. Really. Aled suffered so much and I wish I could have jumped right into the book and saved him! He didn’t want to go to university and he was drowning in despair, which got more and more apparent with every episode he made. Those last few episodes? It just hurt… because they were a reflection of his true life and helplessness. T_T

”Sometimes I think if nobody spoke to me, I’d never speak again.”

”I can take a little beating now and then. I’m a tough one. I’m a star. I’m steel-chested and diamond-eyed. Cyborgs live and then they break, but I’ll never break. Even when my bone dust drifts over the City walls, I’ll be living and I’ll be flying, and I will wave and laugh.”

Daniel Jun:

”We were so important to each other. We’d tell each other everything and anything. We were each other’s first everything. First and only everything. He’s – he’s an angel.”

Daniel might have appeared to be a study machine but deep down he was a really nice guy and it was pretty obvious that he cared about Aled. With his neat appearance and orderly life he’s the complete opposite of Aled, yet he still enjoyed being with his friend. Daniel was so focused on school that it wasn’t easy to see his true self but the longer I read the more I began to warm to him. XD Guess I made the same experience like Frances. 😉

Carys:

Carol raised an eyebrow. “Well, it is how it is. I’m not here to see you and, frankly, I don’t want to. I want to talk to my real child.”
“I don’t think you deserve to,” said Carys, and I could feel the inaudible gasps of everyone in the room.

Okay, I admit it: There was a moment when I wanted to punch Carys in the face! I mean if it would have been my brother suffering so much I would have run to him in a heartbeat. But then again she thought that she was the problem and that Aled would be fine. Thankfully Frances could persuade her to seek him out and the moment she realized her mother was destroying Aled she became the lioness I wanted her to be! XD I loved how she defended Aled and that she gave her mother a run for her money because quite honestly this was what I wanted her to do the entire book! I’m so glad Aled and her reconciled and I was glad Frances and Carys got a chance to talk about the night she vanished.

3

Frances & Aled:

”So why have you been talking to me then?” he said. At the exact moment he said, “I’m so unimpressive,” I said, “Because you’re cool.”
We looked at each other.
Then he laughed softly and shook his head. “This is so weird.”

Boy their relationship was one hell of a rollercoaster! When they got to know each other and started to work on “Universe City” I was so happy for them but the more Aled’s mother and the fandom of Radio interfered, the more their friendship got under attack. I really would have loved for them just to do their own thing and not to be bothered by anything but of course life had other plans. I mean it’s no wonder Aled kind of broke under the pressure. Between the constant emotional abuse of his mother and the personal attacks of the fandom it would have been hard for anyone to keep on swimming. So bless Frances for always trying to reach out to him! Heaven knows Aled’s condition and his character didn’t make it easy to get through to him, but she never gave up on him and that’s what true friends do! Even though I’ve to admit that he said quite hurtful things to her and it’s no wonder she was insecure about their friendship. Still, at the end they found together again and I was very glad they did! =)

He laughed again and hid his face under the blanket.
“Why are you so nice to me?”
“Because I’m an angel.”
“You are.” He stretched out his arm and patted me on the head. “And I’m platonically in love with you.”
“That was literally the boy-girl version of ‘no homo’, but I appreciate the sentiment.”

He wrenched his hand back. “It’s fine. She’s always like this.”
“Does she hurt you?” I said. “Tell me if she hurts you. Right now. I’m serious.”
“No. I swear she doesn’t. He waved his injured hand. “This was an accident.”
“That’s not right. She can’t just – She just – What the fuck, I mean …”

”I’m just the replacement. You’re obsessed with me. Just the same as Carys, and you’ve managed to fuck up the only thing I had, the only good thing I fucking have, just like you managed to fuck up Carys’s. D’you fancy me as well?”

”Do you want to be famous?”
“I just … want to be special.”
“You are special.”
He laughed and said, “Shut up.”

Frances & her mum:

”Don’t let him escape!” said Mum. “This could be your only chance at securing a spouse!”

I swear Frances’s mum is kick-ass! I strive to be as cool as her once my little one is in her teens! I mean that woman wore a unicorn onesie and was basically an angel! I loved that Frances could talk with her about everything and that she always listened to her daughter’s troubles. She didn’t judge and let Frances figure out things for herself and most importantly: She accepted her the way she was!!! Even when Frances told her that she didn’t want to go to university she was totally okay with it and respected her daughter’s decision! I just loved that she was so supportive! She was the total opposite of Aled’s mum and I really liked that parents weren’t just mentioned as a footnote in “Radio Silence” but actually were a part of their children’s lives! =) This is really rare in YA and I appreciated it immensely!

”I don’t think I want to go to university.”
“Oh, Frances.” She didn’t sound disappointed. “That’s okay.”
“Is it okay?” I asked, because I wasn’t sure.
“Yes,” she said. “It’s okay.”

Aled & his mum:

”She looked terrifying, in that classic white, middle-class mum sort of way. Dyed cropped hair, slightly round physique, a smile that said ‘Can I get you a cup of tea?’ and eyes that said ‘I will burn everything you love.’

I really hated this woman! So, so much! GRRR!!! She stands for everything a parent shouldn’t do and be and URGH! I just couldn’t with her! I mean who ruins their children’s life? Who takes a scissor and cuts their son’s hair even though he said he doesn’t want to cut it?! Like seriously!?? And don’t even get me started on her changing Aled’s room! That was his personal space his safe haven and she destroyed it because she thought it was too messy?! WTF?! YOU. DON’T. INVADE. YOUR. CHILD’S. PRVIVATE. SPACE. EVER.!!! You let them put up posters, you let them scribble poetry on a white board, you idk give them room to breathe and to be who they are!! You don’t destroy their home! And then the thing with Aled’s dog Brian?! WTH?! Which mother does things like that?! I’m outraged and furious about this behaviour from a person that should lover her child unconditionally! The emotional abuse this woman put her children through isn’t normal and it’s extremely appalling! She might have never raised her hand against them but the emotional scars her actions left are at least as severe as if she would have hit them. All throughout the entire book I just wanted to call the youth welfare office! >_< I can’t with this woman. I just can’t! I’m so glad Carys and Aled aren’t with her anymore. They suffered enough! And this from a woman that birthed them and should have loved them… *shakes head*

”Aled was going to cry when he saw this.
She had taken his private space – his home – and destroyed it.
She took everything he loved and ruined it.”

”But we were sitting under the streetlamps and Aled was shaking in my arms and this was real, this was happening. She was taking everything Aled had and burning it. She was burning him, slowly, until he died.”

Daniel & Aled:

”I think we were so caught up in each other that we just… missed all the heteronormative propaganda that’s thrust at you when you’re that age.”

Ahh those two were actually kinda cute! Daniel broke my heart when he spoke about their relationship with Frances though. I think for him it must have been very difficult to deal with Aled. On the one hand he was his best friend and knew him better than anyone else but on the other hand he had no idea how he truly felt about him. I could understand why Aled was insecure about outing himself as demisexual. A lot of people never heard of it and he had only just begun to figure out what this meant for him as a person. I’m sure he didn’t want to hurt Daniel and so he rather pushed him away instead of talking things out. Anyway. It made me happy that they eventually managed to speak about it and I hope that one day they’ll reach the moment when they’ll both feel comfortable enough to show the world. =)

”It was all just for us in private, like we had to protect it, because we didn’t want the rest of the world to ruin it. I don’t really know why… I guess it didn’t feel like we were in a relationship at all. Because we were best friends, first and foremost. So we never knew how we’d explain it to people.”

”I think everyone’s a bit bored with boy-girl romances anyway,” he said. “I think the world’s had enough of those, to be honest.”

The reps and diversity:

This is an Alice Oseman book so the reps and the diversity were amazing! We have Frances who’s bisexual and English/Ethiopian; then there is Aled – the second MC – who is demisexual and his best friend/boyfriend Daniel who is South Korean and gay! Rain a friend of Frances is Indian and last but not least there’s Carys – Aled’s sister – who is a lesbian. So you just gotta love the diversity in this book! Also I think Aled is showing signs of depression but it’s never really verified. (though pretty much implied!)

4

This is probably the best contemporary book I ever read and considering it’s a genre I rarely dive into this should tell you enough! Alice Oseman is a genius and the characters she created, their struggles and friendships, their hopes and dreams, their fears and doubts; they all felt real and more than just a little relatable! “Radio Silence” is the accurate voice of numerous generations, describing the one thing every one of us has to experience in order to become who we truly are: Adolescence! 😉