Thursday, 19 May 2016

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman


Hello.
I hope somebody is listening.
I'm sending out this call via radio signal - long outdated, I know, but perhaps one of the few methods of communication the City has forgotten to monitor - in a dark and desperate cry for help.
Things in Universe City are not what they seem.

Published by Harper Collins Children's Books in February 2016
Pages - 410
Summary
What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?
Frances has always been a study machine with one goal, elite university. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside.
But when Frances meets Aled, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself. Then the podcast goes viral and the fragile trust between them is broken.
Caught between who she was and who she longs to be, Frances’ dreams come crashing down. Suffocating with guilt, she knows that she has to confront her past…
She has to confess why Carys disappeared…
Meanwhile at uni, Aled is alone, fighting even darker secrets.
It’s only by facing up to your fears that you can overcome them. And it’s only by being your true self that you can find happiness.
Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has.
*****
What a clever plot. I loved discovering the truth behind Universe City and I really wish I'd thought of it first.  I hadn't read Alice Osman's previous novel, Solitaire, but I heard so much about it that I was desperate to read this one. 
The characters in this book are diverse, very much representing the teenage society of today. This book made me feel hopeful. It felt like a blue print for society going forward.
I loved the relationship between Alex and Frances. It was brilliant to experience a relationship based on friendship instead of sex.  It's clear that Alex and Frances are very fond of each other, but it's not remotely sexual. 
This book made me think. It made me view things differently. 
It showed:
  •  That love has no boundaries. You can fall in love with anyone in the world regardless of their sexuality or gender. This book shows many kinds of love, all beautiful in their own way. 
  • The darker side of YouTube fame. It doesn't sound like it is all it is cracked up to be and the trolls and threats you get aren't worth the bother.
  • That reality fame isn't that glamourous. So many people want to be the next Zoella and Alfie, when really their lives aren't that different from anyone else's. OK, they make lots of money but they also have absolutely no privacy. It's like they are practically owned by their viewing public. 
  • That true friendship will always get you through the dark days. 
I can see why the YA community are giving this book a lot of love. It's current and deals with situations that they can relate to. Mental health issues are dealt with sensitively. The portrayal of exam stress is spot on; that underlying pressure to get excellent grades in order to live a prosperous life are still the norm, when it's  actually possible to achieve a career without them. Not everyone is academic and there are other options.  The stress of living on social media 24-7, which is a growing problem among the teenage community. 
I didn't really know much about podcasts before this, but I'm now curious to listen to Welcome To Night Vale, which I believe inspired this book. 
An excellent photograph of the teenage community of today. 




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