The most important thing to Frances is her education, on track to get into Oxbridge her only guilty pleasure is a podcast no one else really knows about. Aled’s sister disappeared and Frances thinks she’s the reason why. When the two becomes friends, she learns that Aled is the secret creator of her favourite thing.
Being clever was, after all, my primary source of self-esteem.
I loved Solitaire and Radio Silence, Alice’s second novel, is just as good. I love her voice and the authenticity of her characters. They feel like real young people in Britain today. I get the feeling Frances is very similar to Alice in some ways.
Universe City is a podcast on a similar vein to Night Vale. It’s a bit niche and Frances thinks that people will think she’s weird, or otherwise ruin it for her, if they know. She has her school persona which is kept separate from her real self, and she knows that loving a weird podcast is not the Frances that is head girl material.
The podcast was created by Radio Silence, the identity of which is much speculated upon within the fandom. When Frances discovers Aled is Radio Silence she vows to keep his secret, because not everyone want to be famous. As they work together on the show, they become close friends, best friends even. It is so nice having books about friendship.
Being friends with Aled made me feel like I’d never had a real friend before.
Of course, nothing can stay secret forever. The hounding of people on the internet is spot on and I think it’s positive to have stories which show there are actual human beings behind online anonymity.
In the UK, the expected path of bright young people is to go to university, whether or not that is still the best option for them. It was good to see this picked up on in a YA book, where the characters start to really think whether or not that’s what they want. There’s parental pressure but also just the sense of that’s just what you’re supposed to do.
It’s been praised a lot for being a non-romantic story with a bisexual main character. Alice demonstrates that you can quite easily make your characters a diverse bunch and still write about what you want. There is a mix of sexualities and races, never just defaulting to cis white.
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