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Off the Grid #1

Radio Silence

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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?

308 pages, Kindle Edition

First published February 2, 2015

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About the author

Alyssa Cole

42 books5,341 followers
Alyssa Cole is an award-winning author of historical, contemporary, and sci-fi romance. Her Civil War-set espionage romance An Extraordinary Union was the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award’s Best Book of 2017 and the American Library Association’s RUSA Best Romance for 2018, and A Princess in Theory was one of the New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2018. She’s contributed to publications including Bustle, Shondaland, The Toast, Vulture, RT Book Reviews, and Heroes and Heartbreakers, and her books have received critical acclaim from The New York Times, Library Journal, BuzzFeed, Kirkus, Booklist, Jezebel, Vulture, Book Riot, Entertainment Weekly, and various other outlets. When she’s not working, she can usually be found watching anime or wrangling her pets.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 267 reviews
Profile Image for Mandi.
2,306 reviews725 followers
February 2, 2015
The first chapter in this book is well done - chilling - as the heroine has been attacked in a world where the electricity has gone out.

But then she finds her friends and their house. And nothing happens. Nothing. They have a generator so they have heat and tons of food and tons of candles and hot water. They don't leave the house the entire book. No world building at all.

No chemistry between the hero and heroine. Very awkward sexual tension (more telling instead of showing)

Disappointed.
Profile Image for Michelle.
1,380 reviews140 followers
September 15, 2023
It has to be said that this book has very little point.

The first chapter is quite explosive, and you think you're into a rollercoaster of a ride but you're not unfortunately. This doesn't go anywhere.

I fully acknowledge that this is book one in a series so it could be setting the scene and introducing you to the characters; but I don't think I could read another sentence to be honest.

One star.
Profile Image for Al George.
502 reviews320 followers
July 23, 2017
Post apocalyptic bore

bored

This is possibly the only time I will ever sleep through an apocalypse. Or perhaps not. But whatever.

Read for the Scandalicious TBR challenge. For which I am most grateful. I am doing some serious house cleaning.

Series: Indeed.

Sexy times: I think so. I was so busy flipping through the pages that I may have missed it.

Plan on reading more by the author: So here's the thing: this author has some downright brilliant books. And I mean brilliant. So yes, I will read her again. I have no idea what happened here, but Jesus take the wheel, not this series.

Synopsis: Apparently and for reasons unknown - and that , the electricity has gone. Vanished. And we're immersed in a world of survival. Well, sorta.

Arden and her best friend strike out for a family cabin somewhere in the woods only to be set upon by bad, bad mountain men. Of course, they are rescued, because had they not been, there'd be no story. Not that there was a lot to being with, but whatever (again). Into the cabin, they go with John's hot brother and his teenaged sister.

On the plus side, we get to see what survival is like when there is nothing to do. Like literally nothing. And that's how this book felt. Like nothing was really going on. FOR PAGES. Torture me now with post apocalyptic zombies or something. Please. Or at least try not to forget to kill Phillip .

shawn of the dead zombies

Anyway, there's some stuff that happens and people say hateful things and then drama and then rescue and then whatever.

Why it did or didn't work for me:
a) too much talking about NOTHING
b) not enough emphasis on the world going all to hell
c) no real action
d) too much passively waiting around for the electricity to come back on
e) we take food inventory but no one worries about the generator running out of diesel

And on the plus side, we have some great diversity which I totes love. The rest of it? Not so much.

Signed,
Welp that one is done.

over it
Profile Image for Julie.
583 reviews67 followers
January 15, 2015

Check out my other reviews at Little Miss Bookmark!

You know what? This was pretty good! First, I want to say how much I absolutely hate the blurb for this one. It gives away too much information!! I, personally, want something a bit more vague ... grab my attention but don't give me the deets! Le sigh.

Other than that ... as I said, it was pretty good! I really enjoyed the first chapter ... the suspense and scariness of it all was absolute perfection for a first chapter. I love being thrown into a book that is in the middle of a situation and not knowing exactly why or how or anything! It kicks up the adrenaline and sets up the rest of the book wonderfully. The rest of the book went kind of the same way! There were a few times when I felt like it was long winded and I found myself skimming a paragraph or two but that was probably because I'm impatient and I wanted to get to the excitement.

I haven't read an apocalypse book ... ever, I think. I can't think of one that I've read ... sure, I've read bundles of dystopian novels but not an apocalypse. So this was a nice change of pace, getting involved in a soon to be dystopian environment right from the beginning. It was interesting to follow the characters as they are trying to traverse this new lifestyle and brave the new world that may or may not last for the rest of their lives.

The characters were endearing ... I really loved Gabriel almost right from the beginning. It was hard not to! And then John and Arden and Maggie were all equally captivating. I think I would have been a little happier if I had known more about each of their pasts though. It would have made the story just a bit deeper and I would have enjoyed that.

Between the new environment, the excitement, the romance and the lighthearted moments, I found myself wanting more with each page. Someone did say in another review that it seemed a little childish at moments but I didn't get that at all. I think that the characters were bored in their situation (who wouldn't be) and the way that they let off a little steam was a nice break from their dreary new life. All in all, a good book and I'll be interested to see what the next in the series holds!
Profile Image for Jen.
144 reviews51 followers
January 7, 2015
*copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

First off, you should know that BWAM is my jam, which is why I could not waaaait until February to read this book.

I liked it, but I didn’t love it. My main issue is that it employs all of my least favorite tropes far too often. The immediate and constant fantasizing/body reactions. The forever blushing. The height differences that are over the top. The fact that the heroine can see all of the hero’s emotions in his eyes, eyes that dance and flash and darken.

Most of these (blushing, eye reading) are lazy shortcuts, and for me, tension is best when it’s slow building. I knew going in that Arden and Gabriel were gonna end up together, but the fun is getting there. The initial “hate” doesn’t make an impact if innocent bystanders are saying, “you guys looove each other” and desire is clearly recognizable in a pair of eyes on an otherwise angry face. That being said, there were some genuinely sweet and sexy moments between Arden and Gabriel that I really enjoyed. I liked spending time with the Seong family, I got a kick out of the conversations that the characters would have, and how they spent their time (hide and seek?!). Arden was annoying at times, but she owned her mistakes. She wasn’t perfect, which is fine. No speshul snowflakes here, thank god. Btw, I loved the little bits and pieces about Arden’s hair and maintenance. It’s little things like that that bring me joy.

Regarding the setting, this review pretty much nailed it. Not necessarily a negative but also not what I was expecting from a post-apocalyptic book. Much…cozier.

Anyway, 3.5 stars! Will be picking up more from Cole.
Profile Image for Anshika.
123 reviews15 followers
November 22, 2022
Let's begin with a funny anecdote.
So I wanted to read Radio Silence by Alice Oseman. Parents refused to buy any book this month so resorted to EPUB available online. After reading 4 effing chapters about apocalypse, adult characters, sexual tension, my mind suddenly remembered this was supposed to be about a bunch of high school kids- an ASEXUAL high school kid to be precise but we have been reading about sExuAL TenSiOn. *sigh* 😔

Upon looking thoroughly, I realised that the book I've been reading and ACTUALLY LOVING is not what I think it to be. It's actually THIS Radio Silence. God Piracy has mysterious ways ig..

Anyways..
This has:
✅ Forced proximity
✅ Best friend's brother romance
✅ Morally grey characters
✅ strong female lead
✅ Hot doctor male lead
✅ Some good hot spicy smut 🥵
✅ Apocalypse
✅ Black and Asian American characters

Now on my way to read the other Radio Silence. This was a beautiful mistake..

TW: Apocalypse, power outage for months, attempt of sexual assault, death, hunger, violence, concussions, underage drinking.


February 23, 2022
December 30, 2014
I received a copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

8/10: Excellent (but didn’t quite reach maximum squee).

After the author-who-shall-not-be-named appointed himself the erotic romance messiah, I had been on a mission to read some of the foundational erotic romances that authors had mentioned on twitter. I mention this to lay the groundwork for where my brain was when I started Radio Silence. I’d just finished Natural Law by Joey W. Hill and my brain needed a little break, but I had Radio Silence waiting on my brand new Kindle Fire, and I decided to read the first few pages. A few pages turned into eight chapters before I finally was too tired to keep reading. *That* is the sign of a good book.

Arden and her BFF, John, have hiked to upstate New York after some kind of apocalyptic event. They have no idea what caused the power outage and radio silence, and they have no idea how far the outage extends. They only know that after the first few days of people pulling together, civilization has started to disintegrate and they decide to hike 100 miles to John’s family’s house, a remote cabin in upstate New York. Close to their destination, the duo is attacked by two men who injure John and knock him unconscious and grab Arden (trigger warning: threat of rape). John and Arden are saved by a man who shoots the two attackers. It becomes clear to Arden that their hero is John’s older brother, Gabriel. Gabriel had been out looking for something (you find out what he was looking for later on in the book) when he heard Arden struggling with the attackers and come to help.

And that’s just the first chapter.

To give an honest review, I might get slightly spoiler-y, not in details, but in general plot stuff. I feel the need to flirt with the line between review and spoiler because when I saw this book touted as a post-apocalyptic novel I expected action. Lots of action (and I don’t mean hot make out action only, but more fight-for-survival, there will be blood kind of action). However, the plot of this novel relies on a different trope: Snowed In. Gabriel gets them to the family cabin and tends to John, and the plot follows the interpersonal relationships of people hiding out in a remote cabin rather than focus on the external world. Once I had adjusted my expectations and realized that Arden and the Seong family wouldn’t be trekking across America fighting with other bloodthirsty survivors of the apocalypse, I was able to enjoy the book for what is was.
Just saying that the plot is 80% about four people stuck in a cabin together doesn’t do the plot justice. Alyssa Cole does a remarkable job making sure that the plot has a feeling of progression so you never feel like you’re stuck in the cabin with the characters, bored out of your mind. In fact, I found the book fast-paced.

In my mind I kept comparing it to Kylie Scott’s Flesh trilogy although the two books have little in common other than they’re both post-apocalyptic. I love Scott’s books, but while she focuses her plot much more on external action than does Cole, I found Cole’s interpretation of what would be like after an apocalyptic event just as compelling and maybe more realistic (note, that I don’t think realistic is better. Just different). The details of the story were so human that I realized I would do the exact same thing as the characters in Radio Silence. I would find a safe, remote cabin stocked with food and wait it out. I wouldn’t go looking for trouble. Cole presented another way to tell a post-apocalyptic story that, stripped of many post-apocalyptic tropes, felt more like a contemporary novel. And I loved it.

There’s a lot more to recommend the book than just very human characters and insightful writing. Cole does a good job of providing unique voice without ever getting overbearing, or letting an entertaining voice substitute for meaningful arcs. I thought that she presented character arcs that were realistic for the scope of the story. The interpersonal conflict between Gabriel and Arden never relied on misunderstanding, but drew from the fear and frustration of the situation and Gabriel’s need to protect his younger siblings at all costs. I think misunderstanding is too often used as a conflict because it allows your characters to be virtually perfect, no unflattering traits for the reader to be offended by other than maybe not being the best communicator. I’m bored by that. I want characters who are flawed but own their flaws like Gabriel and Arden do.

I’d also like to call attention to how Cole writes about race. I have no authority to say whether or not she did it well, but from what I’ve read from tags and posts for #weneeddiversebooks, it seems to me that Cole does present a great model for a better way to talk about race other than white=default and every other race needs to be called out and delineated in great detail. I’d recommend paying attention to how she does it when you read this books. I took notes :)

So, I give this 8/10 because it’s a great book with great writing. I don’t know what could bump it up to a 9 or 10 for me. Those books just have the squee factor that’s hard to describe or pin down so you can study it. Still, I suspect that for many, many readers this will in fact be a solid 9 or 10 stars.
Profile Image for Mara.
2,485 reviews248 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
September 19, 2016
DNF @47%

God this is boring. If dystopian is your thing, stay away from this book. This is no distopyia, it's just an excuse to write a cabin fever romance. There's no world building at all, there's no end of the world. As I said an excuse. For an unknown reason there's no electricity nor water/heat/etc. We are told people are going crazy, bur except the first chapter there's nothing to this story. Just words.

What's worse in my book is the NA theme and characters. Stupid, juvenile, absolutely out of context for the plot we are promised. Lust at first sight, even given the circumstances, one of which is an attempted rape.

But most of the book is about nothing, you don't even get the thriller of knowing nothing, there's no crescendo of panic/fear. As I said pretty boring and uneventful. Midway it really became too much to care.
Profile Image for Romance Novels in Color.
348 reviews231 followers
February 10, 2016
It is no secret that I have a love of all things fantasy and sci-fi. At one point I binged on dystopian fiction like it was the last cupcake in a room full of sugar crazed six-year olds. I was willing to tackle a child if they stood between me and a good end of days read. Unfortunately, the last few years has seen a flood of dystopian books that honestly, exhausted me. For the last few months, the idea of reading another book that involved zombies, a killer virus or some all-powerful city complex left me bored and uninterested.

Radio Silence sat unread in my kindle for several months. I purchased the book because the cover and premise intrigued me, but I couldn’t muster the enthusiasm to read it. However, when I finally did sit down to read it I was pleasantly surprised.

THE PREMISE
Radio Silence is not your typical dystopian read. There are no zombies, no vampires or weird government agencies causing mayhem (at least not in this book). Instead, Ms. Cole provides the reader with the unknown, and it is perfect. The characters in this world don’t know what has happened. They have no information regarding why all communications have halted. They don’t know what has happened or why. All that is revealed is that one day everything went silent. Electricity shut down, cell towers stopped emitting signals and all form of communication has stopped. America is left paralyzed and no one knows why. This creates a level of danger and suspense that competes (and in many moments) wins against the commonly used zombies or military complex plot. The unknown has been scaring the pants off of the human psyche from the beginning of time, and I have to give the author kudos for employing something so simple to create a constant backdrop of tension.

A hazy memory floated to the surface of my semi-lucid mind: John and I lounging in the living room of our apartment. We clutched mugs of eggnog and watched the saber rattling on the nightly news, where they recapped the now-routine Russian threats against the West. The lightbulbs flared out with a pop! and the image on our sleek TV flattened to a thin white line, leaving us in total darkness. The glow of two signalless cell phones illuminated our confused faces. We cranked the hand-operated emergency radio John had insisted we buy, but it only produced an eerie white noise more chilling than a panicked announcement of impending attack would’ve been.

There are even moments that the characters joke about the possibility of brain eating zombies or being unwilling cast members in Red Dawn 2.

THE CHEMISTRY
Despite the frightening circumstances, when Arden and Gabriel first meet, there is a moment of attraction, a distant spark that filters through Arden’s fear. In many cases this type of insta-like would turn me off, but Ms. Cole handled the moment well by making it less about sexual attraction and more about Arden’s reaction to being touched after so many weeks without contact with someone other than her best friend.

He swept his hands over my cheeks and then prodded my jaw. The pressure of his cold fingertips felt good against my battered face. I knew it was completely inappropriate, given the circumstances, but still—I couldn’t help that his touch sent little frissons of pleasure through me. Maybe lack of human contact besides John for weeks had done something to me. Without thinking, I pressed my face into his hand, seeking the innate comfort of his touch.

I admit to breathing a small sigh of relief after I read this. It gave me hope that the story’s premise wasn’t a poor excuse to have two characters meet and have sex in the woods for the next 300 pages. I was correct.

The romance unfolds at just the right pace. The seclusion of their surroundings, the conflict of the unknown, and we soon learn the disappearnce of Gabriel’s parents, as well as the knowledge of just how far some people are willing to go to survive in this new world, are believable accelerants to Arden’s and Gabriel’s romance.

Living in a cabin with Gabriel, her friend John and their little sister Maggie, provides for a cramped and tricky atmosphere for the author to navigate and make room for sexy times. But sexy times are indeed had
Profile Image for Jujubee.
864 reviews53 followers
May 11, 2018
I won a copy of Radio Silence from the new-to-me author Alyssa Cole through Sizzling Summer Reads eParty on FB in June 2015.
I was thrilled to win, of course, because I am a fan of apocalyptic stories (the romancey kind, even zombies should be loved), but this still fell on my dusty TBR listy *sigh*
I even purchased each new book in the trilogy as the were released, confident that Ms. Cole would deliver me some fine stories. (Ok. There might have been a wee bit of guilt for not reading this sooner. A smidge.)
I am happy to say it was in fact a fine read.
Not a dark read despite the fear of why the world (or IS it the entire world?) is suddenly unplugged and regular, daily life devolves quickly from waiting for help to full-on survival. No real need for a huge backstory. It's not really needed. It's pretty easy to just put yourself in their shoes, am I right?
Set several weeks into the blackout, best friends Arden and John leave the growing chaos of the unsafe city to seek refuge with John's family in a much smaller rural community, which is where this story begins. The author focuses more on Arden, our heroine, and John's family the Seong's.
Enter our hero, the intense Dr. Seong! Gabriel enters the scene very much the dark angel...swoonworthiness. He has his own issues too, but is fiercely focused on keeping his family safe. John is very cool, too. Very much a side character, still we learn about Arden from their friendship. Lots a imature banter btwn these two, while entertaining even for an apocalyptic event, its also very telling. Like I am an "adult"... have a good job, have lots of tech toys...but I can't keep up an adult relationship so I need a roommate who I can play video games with, cry on a shoulder...you get me? These two friends are on an emotional holding pattern and pretty pleased to be there.
Then radio silence.
So IMHO the base of this zombie-free journey is, "What would you do if your life's rug was pulled out from under you?"
Survivors remorse?
Should haves?
Why did I waste so much time on useless pursuits, when I could have been....?
What is my new normal now?
Do I even deserve one?
These are deep deep questions that could never be answered in a story under 200 pages, and they aren't answered here LOL So don't go looking for `em!
The author did acheive in addition to an overall steady tension in the storyline, a satisfying, believable romance with a charming, pragmatic family unit, witty banter, several baddies that were bad but not too cliché, and a heroine that I am happy to report grew some lady balls along the way.

So I am looking forward to John's journey in book two and catching up with the Seong family and Arden & Gabriel.
This new author? I think I'll keep her ;)
Profile Image for Sue.
781 reviews1,590 followers
February 5, 2017
This is actually my first read of February and it's so good! Apocalyptic novel and steamy romance. I didn't expected the love interest would be Korean. There's also family dynamics which is my most favorite. I can't wait to binge this series.
Profile Image for Alex (HEABookNerd).
1,750 reviews238 followers
August 7, 2021
For some strange reason I love apocalypse type romances, so I was really excited to start this trilogy. Though I enjoyed Alyssa Cole's writing a lot I was a bit disappointed in the plot which I found to be fairly slow and somewhat boring in certain parts. I guess I was hoping for more action surrounding the apocalypse but since it's still in the early days, most people are just staying safe in their homes. For the most part, Arden, John, Gabriel, and Maggie are just trying to find ways to occupy themselves while trapped inside. While my expectations were not exactly met in regards to the plot I did really enjoy the characters and definitely intend to read the next in the series. Especially, because we still don't know what caused the blackout!

The shining light of this story was certainly the characters who really come alive in the writing and I was hooked on seeing Arden and Gabriel come to terms with their guilt and anger over their circumstances and work things out. Arden was one tough woman who isn't afraid to stand up for herself and has no problem putting Gabriel in his place when he acts like an asshole. At the same time, she's incredibly understanding and compassionate toward Gabriel and his struggles. She understands his worry over his parents because she has no idea how her parents are handling things all the way across the country. Arden carries a lot of guilt over staying away from her family ever since her mother became sick with hep C. Though she comes to terms with some of her guilt, she battles with it all the way to the end. As a doctor, Gabriel too is dealing with the guilt of killing two men in order to save John and Arden. The internal struggles these two experience help lend them a vulnerability that they can share and find common ground in.

Though Arden and Gabriel were great, I also really loved John and he's the big reason I plan to continue reading this series because his book is next. I just loved how he tried to keep things light and humorous to keep everyone's spirit up. It's obvious that it takes a lot to keep John down and I enjoyed his optimism. He's also a great friend to Arden who needed a kick in the butt a few times to get over her usual defenses. As goofy as he can be he's also incredibly protective and this clearly extends to anyone he sees as family, including Arden. Their friendship was truly beautiful.


Content Warning: On page attempted rape of Arden by a stranger
Profile Image for Michelle Palmer.
459 reviews3 followers
January 24, 2018
I loved this book and immediately bought books 2 and 3 to read soon.

The characters are well developed and their actions make sense for their personalities.
The world that Cole built is real and I can absolutely see it in my mind. All electricity has stopped working for an unknown reason. The world plunges into anarchy. Arden and her roommate, John head to his family's cabin in upstate New York. When they arrive, they are greeted by John's older brother Gabriel. I will stop there because you can read the summary anywhere but suffice it to say this book and these characters are HOT HOT HOT!

I will be picking up more Alyssa Cole after I finish this series.
Profile Image for Leigh Kramer.
Author 1 book1,209 followers
September 15, 2023
Alyssa Cole really can do it all. I’ve been saving this apocalyptic romance for a while now. It was fascinating to read it in light of the pandemic, although I’m relieved things never devolved the way they did for Arden, Gabriel, and his siblings. I can’t imagine not being able to get in touch with anyone or know if they’re still alive. They don’t know why the world went dark, only that it did and there was much to relate to with their confusion, worry, and attempts to keep hope alive. Arden and Gabriel aren’t perfect; calamity is more likely to heighten our emotions and poor reactions instead of revealing our better selves. This humanized both characters and I loved how they both had to figure out how to get along since they were stuck in the cabin and how that forced proximity made it possible for them to even acknowledge their chemistry, much less act on it. And it’s clear that while Arden and Gabriel might not have other options for romantic partners, they really are interested in each other for who they are.

John and Maggie were both great secondary characters, making for interesting friend, family, and found family dynamics. I truly enjoyed reading this but at the same time, it showed its age. I did not care for the treatment of PTSD and mental illness and I have reservations about the inclusion of a racial slur toward Asians. It wasn’t necessary for the scene, nor did mental illness need to be demonized in this way.

Note: I wondered if Arden might have ADHD. It’s not labeled as such in the text but many of her actions pointed toward that possible diagnosis.


Characters: Arden is a 24 year old Black freelance bookkeeper and amateur guitar player. Gabriel is a 26 year old Korean American ER doctor. His brother John (24) and sister Maggie (16) are also at the cabin. This is set in upstate New York near the Canadian border.

Content notes: attempted sexual assault, PTSD and possible psychotic break , racial slur, racism, nightmare, anxiety, missing parents , runaway sister, head injury (secondary character), murder, attempted murder, physical assault, possible off page death of FMC’s parents and secondary character’s boyfriend, FMC’s mother is on dialysis for hepatitis C, weight loss from food insecurity, past infidelity (secondary character’s ex), unsafe sex practices (MMC rips condom wrapper open with teeth), on page sex, alcohol, underage drinking (secondary character), inebriation (secondary character), casual ableism, anti-fat bias, gendered pejorative, gender essentialist language, ableist language, non-Native use of “powwow”, mention that neighbor was possibly raped and/or murdered (past), references to Islamaphobia (mosque burned down) and xenophobia
Profile Image for Mstcat.
155 reviews59 followers
October 1, 2015
What happens to the world when the power goes out? What if it goes out on a global scale and doesn't come back on? This is the premise on which Radio Silence is based. While this is no Walking Dead zombie style book, it does have that surviving, end-of-the-world thing going on. Radio Silence takes place weeks after an apocalyptic turn of events. Without electricity and all that comes with it, life in the U.S. is starting to fray at the edges. People have started to embrace lawlessness as they begin to realize that things may never go back to normal. There are several characters of importance in the story. The first being an African-American woman named Arden. Arden is our heroine, the main female protagonist. She's traveling with her best friend and roommate John Seong. John is a supporting character, but what I love about him is that he's not only Korean but gay as well. Talk about diversity in books! This is a reflection of real life and I love it. Life isn't just black and white and it isn't populated by straight people either. I like books that paint a realistic image of the world and who lives in it. So yay! Right off the bat I was liking this one.

John and Arden are making their way to his parents home near Canada as they've come to the conclusion that their apartment in New York is no longer a smart or safe option. Unfortunately, the journey isn't as safe as they'd hoped either. Near John's home they encounter Gabriel who is John's older brother. Gabriel is a doctor and he's been caring for his teen sister. He is also our hero, the male protagonist of the story. He's a bit of a difficult individual as he takes his family's safety seriously and will do what he has to to keep them safe. He sees Arden as someone who makes bad decisions and is reckless and won't tolerate her doing anything to endanger his family. The problem is he's attracted to Arden as well.
Arden thinks that Gabriel is an a$$, but she's in his debt and for the sake of her friendship and her own safety she'll have to cope. Like Gabriel she also unwillingly feels the attraction between them. John and Gabriel's sister is the second supporting character. She's a teen overflowing with angst, stuck in a world where she can't contact her long-distance boyfriend and where she's treated like a child.
A vast majority of this book is spent inside the confines of the Seong household. You may expect there to be a good deal of conflict between our main characters and the outside world, but there isn't. This is more of a relationship book than one based on hardship. Because it is a romance, it is primarily about the growing attraction and budding relationship between Arden and Gabriel. I liked these two as a couple and really like the attraction-laced dislike that they shared at the beginning of the story. I'm not sold that these two would have ever gotten together if the world hadn't changed, or if they would have stayed together if they had. They are two very different people with two very different personalities. That said, life did change and they make an unlikely yet solid couple. Arden's concern and feelings of guilt regarding her parents are also very powerful and work well in helping the reader to get a feel of who she is.

A great deal of the story was also about the relationship between John and Arden. They loved each other as if they were related and it showed. Each would be devastated and lost without the other. I like the little nuances of John. The little peeks that the reader gets regarding John's true feelings and fears. He hides a great deal behind sarcasm and jokes but there's a part of John that fears that as a gay man he'll be alone if the world doesn't go back to normal. I liked that his family didn't have an issue with his sexuality. It didn't really factor into their interactions with him at all. He was just John a beloved son and brother. John and Gabriel's sister also develops a relationship of sorts with Arden. She sees Arden as a strong woman and envies her to some extent. She is also another female to talk to and one that she feels can relate.

Don't get me wrong, while this is primarily a relationship building/post-apocalyptic book, there are spots of violence that occur at various points in the book. These are truly intense scenes that were crucial in letting me never forget what was really going on outside of the Seong home walls. I liked that the Seong family is in a sort of place of privilege. Due to circumstances that I won't divulge, they are in a better place than most. Hopefully in future books the writer will take this privilege away and force our family out of their comfort zone. There is also an important mystery that the family is in the midst of that serves to keep the story-line moving forward.

Overall this was a good start to a series. I hope that the story continues to move forward even as it continues following the lives of Arden and the Seong family. I want more about what has happened to the world and what's going on with the people in it.
I recommend giving this book a try.

*I was given a copy of this ebook in exchange for a fair and honest review*
Check out more of my reviews at Romance Between the Covers
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Profile Image for Sarah.
810 reviews
December 11, 2017
I really liked the main couple (especially Arden's internal monologue), but beyond that the story didn't really shine. This was least exciting post-apocalyptic scenario I've read. The setup was interesting, because it posed so many questions, but none of them are ever answered, because the characters just hang out in a house in the woods with no electricity or cell service. I imagine it is explained more in the next book, but it didn't add much of anything to this story, so I'm not really motivated to move on with the series. I recommend the Loyal League series as a better place to start if you're new to Alyssa Cole.
Profile Image for Erin (PT).
566 reviews93 followers
February 7, 2015
3.5/5.0 I really enjoyed this book, it combines one of my favorite tropes--apocalypse/post-apocalypse--with a really lovely Black/Asian (Korean) interracial romance. I liked that this was an apocalypse story about ordinary people in an extraordinary situation; these are not the scientists or military or politicians who know what's happening and are working to solve it, it's the story of regular people, cut off from avenues of information who are caught in a situation they don't understand and have no knowledge about what--if anything--is being done to solve it.

At the same time, I don't entirely feel that Cole capitalizes on that. The focus of the book is definitely the romance and while I enjoyed that aspect of the story--Gabriel and Arden have great chemistry--that focus takes away, somewhat, from the tension of the situation. The majority of the book takes place at the Seong family's cabin in the woods and though the characters verbally worry about violence from other people, the isolation of the cabin makes it feel like a nebulous and not-very-real threat. As a result, the book lacks any real sense of tension or conflict.

On the other hand, I did really enjoy the romance. Despite the personality conflicts between Gabriel and Arden, their relationship is very adult and lacking in "stupid" drama that plagues so many other romances. It's been a sad, long while since I've read a het romance, because it's often so hard for me to relate to the characters and their situations, but this felt real and grounded to me in a really appealing way and the secondary characters, John and Maggie, were beautifully incorporated, feeling like PEOPLE in their own right. Cole has a great talent in writing characters and dialogue that read as natural and real.

So while the story lacked something in conflict and tension, the characters themselves make up for that lack. I'm already counting days until the second book comes out in May.
Profile Image for 'Nathan Burgoine.
Author 48 books421 followers
September 9, 2019
Listened on audiobook. I liked the complete lack of "what happened?" in this—the idea that people might not find out what went wrong when suddenly all the power goes out and electronics stop working was a nice touch of world-building (anti-world-building?) that helped set the tone of the rest of the book.

The opening scene almost had me giving up on the heroine right off the bat, though. If you're feeling the same way, hang in there, her traveling companion eventually says something that makes that scene a little less "What in the world is wrong with you?" and more "Ah, her friend was trying to let her be angry when she was scared, but wasn't actually letting her do something incredibly, incredibly foolish."

It took me ages to warm to her love interest, too, but that came from a place of having zero patience for manly-men who repress showing emotions and consider being an asshole and angry as the way to be an in-charge leader who cares. Miss me with that.

That said? The dynamics were solid between the four survivors, and the hanging "what about the parents?" plot was intriguing, and I got through the audiobook in two days. The hammering home of "family before all else"/"nothing you could do could ever stop your parents from loving you" was a personal miss, too, for obvious reasons, so this was more likely a case of a book just hinging on a few points that are really outside my zone and not being for me.

I want to read the book with the gay character as the hero, but then I noticed it's novella length. I like novellas, I do, but I'm kind of tired of series where men-paired-with-women get full length novels, but same-sex couples get novellas in between. I know it's not intended to say "this story is lesser/needs less time/is smaller" but I'm kind of tired of how often publishing (intentionally or not) suggests the worthy full length romance novels aren't the queer ones.
Profile Image for Skye Kilaen.
Author 14 books319 followers
February 19, 2023
Enemies to lovers M/F romance between an African-American woman and a Korean-American man in a remote cabin after a total power outage across... well, it's not clear how widespread it is, due to the lack of communications, and that's part of why it's so scary. No one knows what happened. Arden and her roommate John leave on foot from Rochester towards the family property near the Canadian border. Gabriel, his physician older brother, saves them from a scavenger attack, but blames Arden for John being injured.

Now they're all holed up together, along with John and Gabe's teenage sister, wondering whether life will ever be the same again, and also why John and Gabe's parents haven't returned from a trip to see the neighbors. It's four people living with increasing stress and uncertainty, Gabe and Arden reluctantly admitting their mutual attraction, and disturbing signs that something bad happened to Gabe and John's parents, who should have been back from visiting the neighbors by now.

Solid near-post-apocalypse suspense with a deep compassion for its characters when they make even dangerous mistakes. Which they do, because no one's perfect in the post-apocalypse.
Profile Image for Katie.
2,712 reviews142 followers
October 25, 2015
I really liked the bits and pieces of this, but I wish it had been better paced! Hate-to-love doesn't work so well if it happens practically within a 24 hour time frame! That quickly, other characters were commenting on the tension between the characters. Slow down!

I liked the characters and was intrigued by the premise. When I finished this last night, I thought I'd read more in the series. Today, I am not so sure. I guess it'll depend on how much it sticks with me.
Profile Image for Amanda.
574 reviews62 followers
November 11, 2017
I feel like this book started off strong. But then...nothing happens. I’m guessing in the next books in the series we find out what caused the blackout but here it just felt like no questions were answered, and I was left waiting for something big to happen. I did like the characters so will probably keep reading next books.
Profile Image for Monique.
626 reviews40 followers
September 29, 2021
I was drawn by the dystopian, end of the world backdrop. Even though this was a well-written, thoughtful read with great characters, I really couldn't get into it though. Maybe it's just me.
Still, I may read the next book.
Profile Image for Eri.
595 reviews172 followers
August 29, 2017
I apparently bought this on a kindle sale and didn't even realize I owned it until I was digging through my library the other day lmao. Anyhow, I picked it up on a whim a few days ago and have slowly been getting through it, finishing it this morning.

I'll be honest and say I don't read much of the romance genre aside from contemporary and historical, so this one was out of my comfort zone in a sense, but seeing as I read apocalyptic/dystopian YA all the time not too far. The book doesn't really touch on the causes of the apocalyptic event for the world, which might bother some, but it does a really nice job of grounding you in the aftermath of the event from the desperation people sink to when they've lost the comfortable reality they've become accustomed to their whole life. One of the most charged moments was when Arden talks about how initially there was sharing of food and barbecues, but gradually things got...worse.

The romance was really well done and the dynamics between Arden and Gabriel were sparking with chemistry. I also love John and Maggie, and it greatly amused me how both could see right past our main couple trying to hide their attraction. The gradual camaderie and love that grew between the characters felt natural and real, and I cannot wait to read more of Alyssa Cole's books seeing how much my first book of hers was this enjoyable.
Profile Image for Darcy.
12.7k reviews447 followers
March 11, 2019
This book was a bit blah for me. I wanted to know what happened, why did the world break, but that was never addressed. Instead for most of the book the siblings and Arden were stuck in the house, going a bit stir crazy, wondering about their parents, wondering what happened to the world. The action at the end was anti-climatic to me, mostly because I found it to be not believable. While I still want to know how the world broke, not enough to keep reading the series.
Profile Image for frando.
62 reviews9 followers
October 20, 2018
This is compelling and fun, but especially at the beginning, every time Arden would start to express attraction toward Gabriel I was exhausted and wanted to hear more about the apocalypse. I read this to fulfill a Read Harder 2018 challenge requirement, and I think I just don’t like contemporary romance that much, even if there is an apocalypse to juice it up.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
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