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?
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 want to say -
I’m impressed with how much Oseman packed into 400 pages. This story has a serious arc that is impossible to look away from.
Radio Silence is a nice balance between the darkness of Solitaire and the focus on relationships in the Heartstopper series. While the connection between Aled and Frances and how the friendship they form helps them to find themselves is the true highlight of this book, it is most definitely not the only thing going on here. The intense pressure that comes from many sources ends up fracturing something that feels impossible to break, and this causes several personal crises as character, motivation, and the future are all thrown into chaos.
"You're an idiot," said Mum, when I relayed to her the entire situation on Wednesday. "Not an unintelligent idiot, but a sort of naïve idiot who manages to fall into a difficult situation and then can't get out of it because she's too awkward."
"You just described my life."
None of these characters is what you would expect. Frances is an overachiever whose intense focus is entirely self-inflicted: her mother, though supportive, often seems baffled by her academic goals. Aled is painstakingly reserved but has an insanely creative, outgoing mind. Aled’s twin sister is just missing, and no one talks about it. And the more you learn about their mother, the more you dislike her. Finally, Daniel is competitive and academic, with more parental adversity than support. He’s rude and unlikeable and is somehow best friends with the sweetest, most gentle person.
I love that if you’re paying attention, you get cameos from many characters from both Heartstopper and Solitaire. Their names aren’t mentioned, so if you want to pick out appearances by Nick, Charlie, Michael, Becky, and Tori, you have to pay attention to their physical descriptions. Though their appearances were fleeting, it was still nice to see them within Radio Silence.
This may be my favourite novel by Oseman so far. While This Winter and Nick and Charlie are excellent, it’s undeniable that they are mostly enjoyable due to the perfection of Heartstopper. And where Solitaire was dark but shallow, Radio Silence seems to have found the right balance of important concepts and beautiful execution. I read this book in one sitting, and it felt much shorter than the page count suggests. The emotions really shine through – these characters very clearly care deeply for one another – and carry the narrative to another level.