- Page Count: 410
- Release Date: March 28, 2017
- Publisher: Harper Collins
- My Rating: 4.5 stars
What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong? Frances has always been a study machine with one goal, elite university. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside.
But when Frances meets Aled, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself. Then the podcast goes viral and the fragile trust between them is broken.
Caught between who she was and who she longs to be, Frances’ dreams come crashing down. Suffocating with guilt, she knows that she has to confront her past…
She has to confess why Carys disappeared…
Meanwhile at uni, Aled is alone, fighting even darker secrets. It’s only by facing up to your fears that you can overcome them. And it’s only by being your true self that you can find happiness. Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has.
I was not expecting to fall in love with this precious book, but hey… look at that. (I included stuff about the characters at the end that might seem spoilerish before you know the story. So just a heads up in case you wanted to go into this knowing nothing).
Frances is a nerdy British-Ethiopian teen who’s obsessed with a small podcast called Universe City. She’s split between being her “school self” and real self. One self is at the top of the class, set on getting into Cambridge, and a workaholic… and the other self posts Universe City fan art on Tumblr and has no true friends. One night Frances meets a quiet, anxious boy named Aled who turns out to be the creator of Universe City. He’s the younger brother of a girl Frances kissed last year, so that leads into a deeper part of the plot with family problems.
It was so wonderful to find a story where the main character doesn’t end up in a relationship. Don’t get me wrong, I obviously adore a good romance. But YA contemporaries that have a strong guy + girl friendship and let the main character remains single are so rare. When the two characters were still just friends at the end I kept staring at the book like
The characters seriously felt more like people I’d know in real life than fictional characters, too. Everything was so well done! The writing was solid, the parents were fully formed characters, the dialogue was hilariously real, there was a ton of diversity, and there was a realistic range of sexualities. Frances is bisexual, Daniel and Carys are gay, and Aled is either asexual or demisexual. Plus, all of the situations were super believable… like the messages that Aled and Frances got via Tumblr about Universe City sounded TOTALLY real. The author really knows how fandoms can spiral out of control.
Oh, and major shoutout to the random Vampire Weekend song that was thrown into the story. White Sky is the greatest — 5 extra stars for that.
Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC!