Radio Silence, by Alyssa Cole

>> Tuesday, March 10, 2015

TITLE: Radio Silence
AUTHOR: Alyssa Cole

PAGES: 200
PUBLISHER: Carina Press

SETTING: Contemporary
TYPE: Romance
SERIES: 1st in the Off The Grid series

No one expects the apocalypse.

Arden Highmore was living your average postgrad life in Rochester, New York, when someone flipped the "off" switch on the world. No cell phones, no power, no running water—and no one knows why. All she and her roommate, John, know for sure is that they have to get out, stat. His family's cabin near the Canadian border seemed like the safest choice.

It turns out isolation doesn't necessarily equal safety.

When scavengers attack, it's John's ridiculously handsome brother, Gabriel, who comes to the rescue. He saves Arden's life, so he can't be all bad…but he's also a controlling jerk who treats her like an idiot. Now their parents are missing and it seems John, Gabriel, their kid sister, Maggie, and Arden are the only people left alive who aren't bloodthirsty maniacs.

No one knows when—or if—the lights will come back on and, in the midst of all that, Arden and Gabriel are finding that there's a fine line indeed between love and hate. How long can they expect to last in this terrifying new world, be it together or apart?

Radio Silence starts right in the middle of things. It's just a couple of weeks after the lights and all communications have mysteriously gone off. Arden Highmore and her best friend, John Seong, had initially just stayed home, waiting for the world to come back online. But as the block party atmosphere gradually turned into something a lot scarier, they realised it might be best to get out. John's family live in an isolated cabin in the forest, so they set out in that direction.

They're almost there when they run into a group of men who attack them, and that's when we join them. John's been knocked out, Arden is being manhandled in a very menacing way, and that's when John's brother Gabriel comes in and rescues them by shooting the would-be rapists.

Most of the rest of the book takes place in the Seongs' cabin, as the group (which includes the Seongs' little sister as well) worries for their loved ones and Arden and Gabriel get over their initial personality clash (not to mention, the fact that Gabriel blames Arden for getting herself and John into trouble) and give into their attraction.

I'm afraid I really wasn't crazy about this one. It had great buzz and I liked the premise and its matter-of-fact diverseness (Arden is African-American, while the Seongs' parents are from Korea), but just like in the other book I read by this author, the execution wasn't great.

My biggest problem with it was that I felt the tone was off. Clearly what's going on around this isolated group of people is very grim. There's the initial, violent scene, there's the fact that Arden and the Seongs are worried about their respective parents, there's the stuff Arden and John saw as they were travelling out of Rochester (one particular memory I found quite haunting was when Arden remembers hearing a woman whose voice she thought she recognised as that of a neighbour shouting for help and then, shortly after that, a group of men whooping and making lewd comments).

But for all that, the characters' interactions felt a bit too light-hearted. Snarky comments, flirting, learning to play guitar... it just felt wrong. And I'm not saying they should have been all moody all the time, it's just that this stuff didn't really seem to affect them. We're told it has, but I never felt it. And another thing: they have no idea what's going on and, by this time, they should be fearing that this apocalyptic situation will not just be going away, but become permanent. Do they spend much time worrying about this? Do they ration the food in the house, come up with any sort of plans? Nope, not beyond taking stock of what they have (which is more an excuse to get Gabriel and Arden along together). Other than that, they're making nice big dinners every night.

Also, speaking of the mysterious cause of the apocalypse, it kind of bugged me that they weren't all more desperate to know what was going on, why the lights had gone off. They sort of wonder a couple of times, but it's kind of like "well, we don't know, so let's just not worry about it". We never find out in this book, although I read the excerpt from the next one and there seem to be some answers there. Thing is, I didn't find them particularly believable, given what we've been told about how events unfolded.

Finally, the romance didn't work for me either. Again, it was all tell and no show. We're told Arden and Gabriel have this huge chemistry, but we're never really shown. They're very meh as a couple.

Eh, well, it was a quick read and not awful, just not very good, either.



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