*Disclaimer: This review may contain spoilers. All thoughts and opinions are my own, my preferences may be different to yours. Please keep that in mind.
Frances Janvier spends most of her time studying.
Everyone knows Aled Last as that quiet boy who gets straight As.
You probably think that they are going to fall in love or something. Since he is a boy and she is a girl.
They don’t. They make a podcast.
In a world determined to shut them up, knock them down, and set them on a cookie cutter life path, Frances and Aled struggle to find their voices over the course of one life-changing year. Will they have the courage to show everyone who they really are? Or will they be met with radio silence?
It’s almost hard knowing where to start with this book. I read it in about three days and I was so engrossed with it I didn’t take notes like I usually do about things I wanted to make sure I pointed out. And I feel like I could talk about so much with this book but at the same time I really really really recommend this one and want you to go and read it yourself.
Let me start with the fact that this book is so unbelievably relatable that it was liked getting a punch in the gut… but like in a good way. Oseman does not hold back anything, instead, they go all-in with just everything. The pressure of doing well academically, the pressure to like and enjoy all the ‘normal’ things that everyone else enjoys. Just the pressure to be.
And then we get to see the relationship between Aled and Francis develop and grow and it’s so wonderful and beautiful. And it stays as a friendship. A best friend’s friendship. The fact that this doesn’t end up a cliche romance between two best friends makes this just that much better. Don’t get me wrong, I love a romance story, but I also really really love a good friendship. And the fact that everyone respects their friendship and doesn’t really push a romance onto them.
So let’s talk about the characters. Almost every main-ish character is LGBTQ+ and thank you for the representation!!! Hello! It’s amazing and I love it. It’s not like they are there to just be there. It makes sense and Oseman does such a great job of sharing the personal experiences of the characters.
The story is told from the perspective of Francis Janvier. She is quirky and secretly artsy and tries her best to be the best academically because that is what she thought she was supposed to be like. She tries to like what her school friends like even though it’s really not. She learns eventually that she doesn’t have to do it. She doesn’t have to go to university and study English lit if she doesn’t want to. She likes patterned print leggings and drawing and she loves ‘Universe City’ a podcast on youtube that is produced by someone she never expected. She makes a friend. Her first real friend. Her platonic soulmate. The person that just gets her no questions asked. No weirdness. It just works. And that is Aled. Oh! Francis is also bi and biracial. She is the ultimate package in my opinion. She’s amazing.
And then there is Aled Last. I wanna just wrap Aled in some cozy blankets and give him a mug of hot chocolate and when he’s all nice and cozy and distracted I’m gonna whack his mom with a 2×4. Aled is the anonymous creator of ‘Universe City’ and a smart boy. But a sad boy. A lonely boy. At first, we are left with an understanding that he is gay because he is in a relationship with Daniel. But in the end, we get to hear them talk about their relationship and how Aled discovers he identifies as demisexual. It’s an honest conversation and so real. And okay yeah I am happy that they do stay together. Because I am a hopeless romantic with no hope for romance. And a sucker for a happy ending.
Beyond the two main characters, there are memorable side characters that don’t feel like side characters. They have such important parts even though they don’t show up every single page. I love that we get to see Francis and Raines’s relationship/friendship actually become a real and honest friendship. And I really do think that Raine was trying to be a good friend to Francis but Francis was too scared to get close and open up.
5 out of 5 cups of tea. So so so so good. Definitely going to be on my favorites of the year list. I loved this book. I think you should read this book. I don’t care if you’re not that age anymore or you don’t think you could relate to the characters. Trust me… you can. It is so much more than just kids trying to get into a good school or trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives.
I literally have zero complaints or hesitations or like anything bad to say about this book. Okay, maybe one. It ends. I really wish it was longer just because I want to see more of Francis and Aled and David and all of them. But it’s okay. it’s okay. Seriously go read this book.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s book review! If you’ve read Radio Silence let me know what you thought. Or if you have any recommendations I am always open to hearing them!