Hearing about this all over the internet, I have to admit, I wasn’t sure this was going to be for me. It sounded a little like a typical contemporary YA, aimed at a not-quite-me audience, and trying to be something it wasn’t. Despite my reservations, I decided to pick it up annnnd BAM!
This hit me like a ton of bricks! I could not have anticipated how much this book about fangirling over a podcast would hook me. Fascinating and nuanced and layered- it’s a proper coming of age story, with all that entails. And yet does none of this in the usual way!
Tuning in, the tone was instantly relatable and captured the tone of modern Britain. The writing simultaneously managed to be well written and also get the lingo down. The speech in particular was incredibly natural- like listening in on actual teens- like looking at a snapshot of people’s actual lives.
All the characters in this felt super real. There wasn’t a single weak link- there were so many lovable friendships and family relationships crammed into one book (Frances’ mum in particular is a Rockstar of a character!). And I loved the contrasting vibes I got from everyone- it was such an eclectic mix of people. Obviously, I was also a massive fan of the *online friendship meets real life* storyline- it just made me absurdly happy. And really liked how Aled wanting to keep his identity secret wove into other themes.
At the same time, this wasn’t just light and frothy all the way. This dealt with a TON of important issues. In fact, I was particularly impressed by how this handles the topic of abuse. What I especially liked was that it made a strong case for not knowing what goes on behind closed doors. The ass-umption is that Aled is privileged for going to a good uni and running a successful blog- but people don’t know what really goes on in his life. The exploration of this was handled sensitively, whilst not beating around the bush. I cannot express how much respect for this book for doing this justice.
I’m also glad that this doesn’t present uni as all sunshine and roses. Not that I want people to be put off, but too many books do that. Too often we are bombarded with the “best time of your life” line and that it’s the “be all and end all”- which can be hard to live up to. It is refreshing to tell some different stories for a change: plenty of people don’t go, many are rejected, lots of people hate it, some are pressured into doing subjects they don’t want to do, a fair few drop out/change courses (or go through a mixture of the above). Somehow, this book managed to explore a lot of those options.
And that’s just one of the reasons I think this is a seminal book for this generation. Everything from the highs and lows of fandom to being an anxious young nerd to coming to terms with who you are was given space on the page to develop. It really spoke to me on a deep and personal level- yet what’s most amazing about Radio Silence is seeing on Goodreads how many people found different parts relatable. As much as I felt Oseman was personally talking to me, tens of thousands of other people felt the same way. And that’s just brilliant.
While I’m not sure it will be for everyone, I can safely say this is an accurate portrayal of what it’s like to be a teen in the UK in the 21st century. I didn’t know it before I read it, but I legit *needed* this book. I’m all abuzz with excitement for Radio Silence- so let’s raise the roof and give it:
Rating: 5/5 bananas
So have you read this? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!