I need to tell you first and foremost how much I adored this book. Alice Oseman is a goddess. Solitaire was gorgeous, and her second book, Radio Silence is even better.
So what do you need from a good book? Juicy Romance? Strong Female leads who never miss a beat? Is that what you really need? Because you won’t find it here and I promise you, this book gave me more ‘feels’ than anything I’ve read this year.
I definitely commend Alice Oseman for keeping her cast of characters diverse in sexuality, gender, and ethnicity. That’s just normal, isn’t it? Alice Oseman has a way with making the ordinary extraordinary, doesn’t she? And she doesn’t have to whitewash her characters to do it. Alice showed her mostly non white, entirely LGBTQIA+ characters as normal people, being normal– And guess what? That’s because everyone is normal regardless of these labels, and everyone can carry a novel if the character is fleshed out enough. And no, (for you more conservative readers) it doesn’t mean anyone is shoving an agenda down your throat.
So let’s move on then: Moral of the first section, Alice is inclusive of all people in this book.
Aled Last. I love Aled. He is a sweet and snuggly boy (Alice has said he doesn’t necessarily label himself according to gender, though he was born a boy) I don’t love him because he needs saving, or because he is in love with the female protagonist, because arguably, neither is true. I love him because he is Aled, and he is remarkable. It is so easy to feel a connection to Aled, … and all the characters for that matter.
But what about the strong female lead? Well. Frances is strong, and female. But the trope we’re all tired of is that women have to be infallible to be strong. I love Alice Oseman because she keeps writing incredibly complex women, even in her minor characters, and you cannot tell me they’re not strong women. They’re real women, girls, people going through things, and she treats her beautifully flawed women the same way we treat cis white male characters… and you know what? I love them, I love her characters. It’s what makes everything so profound and resounding about her plots. Her women aren’t assassins or damsels, they’re just girls, which is what we need.
There had to be one thing right? It’s spoilery. So stop reading if you want to read this book.
Aled is in a complicated relationship with Daniel/Dae Sung. And the realness is a little bit too uncomfortable here because I worry about Daniel influencing Aled to dress in ways he wouldn’t normally do himself. I wondered if Daniel was a little too controlling, though, again, they seem to be in a real relationship with real everyday problems, and I’m hoping it’s something they can eventually get over.
Anyway, please read this book. I give it all my approval. Alice Oseman is doing what we all should be doing, writing real characters who are inclusive of all ethnicities, gender, and sexuality without stereotyping, or defining anyone by one trait.