“I wonder- if nobody is listening to my voice, am I making any sound at all?” – Alice Oseman
Guys this book was so fantastic I cannot get over it. There are so many wonderful quotes that I wish I could include all of them in this review. I listened to this on audiobook (stellar narrator btw), but I wish I had the physical copy so I could have marked down all my favorite parts because there were so many! The writing! The characters! The messages! All so wonderful!!!
OkaY so this book follows a girl named Frances who is one of the top students at her school and it seems like all she does is study, hoping to get into university. However, Frances is secretly a huge nerd for this niche internet podcast called Universe City and draws fan art for the show. She ends up stumbling upon the creator by chance and they quickly become the best of friends. No– they do not fall in love. Francis makes that quite clear.
“I think everyone’s a bit bored with boy-girl romances anyway,” he said. “I think the world’s had enough of those, to be honest.” – Alice Oseman
So, at its core this book is about friendship. It was truly an absolute breath of fresh air to read a book that lets you know up front that romance is not the central theme, especially in YA. Focusing on Aled and Frances’s friendship was one of the most rewarding reading experiences I’ve had this year. I’ve never even noticed how much I needed a book that did not focus on romance as heavily. Also, most of the characters are a part of LGBTQ+ community, including bisexual, gay, lesbian, demisexual, and pansexual representations (I might be missing some!). It was also so nice to see that as just being a part of their character as opposed to something that needed to be discussed in depth. Some characters just were bisexual or gay and that was that. The book focused mostly on their other personality traits and I thought it was very nicely done.
This book was also funny as hell. I was not expecting it to make me laugh so much. Francis truly was a gem. I think the audiobook narrator also did a fantastic job of making the story even more hilarious.
This book also deals with some heavy topics, so TW FOR: suicidal thoughts, depression, parental abuse, physical abuse, death of a pet.
I have never read a book that went so in depth about the dangers of academic pressure on teenagers. We start out with two characters whose whole identities revolve around school and how they believe that the only way they will survive in the world is by going to a great university, even if it means working themselves to death. We slowly see them start to question how right this assumption is throughout the book and it was truly profound. This book was a bit hard to read at times, especially the interactions between Aled and his mother. Just know going in this isn’t a totally happy book.
It has also been a while since I felt so connected to a main character like I did with Frances. Her character development painted such a full picture of her I felt like I could reach out and touch her. Aled as well. This is definitely a character driven story, but it does what it sets out to do so well.
Overall, the only problem I had with this book is that I felt like it wrapped up a little bit too quickly for my tastes. it also felt a tad unrealistic at the end there. Also, I did not fully understand the bits about the podcast that were thrown in. Although they were very short excerpts, I just did not really understand them but that’s probably just me!
However, the majority of the story I just adored and cannot WAIT to read more of Alice Oseman’s works!!! WHAT A RIDE!!! A new favorite for sure (:
“I wish I could be as subtle and beautiful. All I know how to do is scream.” – Alice Oseman