I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Signal To Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Published by Solaris on September 13, 2022
Genres: Fiction, Magical Realism, Fantasy, Contemporary, Coming of Age, History, General
Format: ARC, eBook
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
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A beautiful new edition of Moreno-Garcia's stunning debut, featuring an illustrated cover by legendary artist Jim Tierney
Mexico City, 1988. Long before iTunes or MP3s, you said "I love you" with a mixtape. Meche, awkward and fifteen, discovers how to cast spells using music, and with her friends Sebastian and Daniela will piece together their broken families, and even find love...
Two decades after abandoning the metropolis, Meche returns for her estranged father's funeral, reviving memories from her childhood she thought she buried a long time ago. What really happened back then? Is there any magic left?
Signal to Noise is a brilliant call back to the 80s. A coming of age tale with complex characters and a soundtrack to compel the reader. A story about losing and finding yourself.
Signal to Noise was my first reading experience with Silvia Moreno-Garcia. It was a fun and enjoyable trip, but I did struggle to engage with the protagonist, Meche. It’s a witchy coming-of-age tale of friendship, betrayal, and figuring out where the characters fit in life. Set in Mexico in the 80s, it allows the reader to experience particular hardships, feelings, and family dynamics. Although I found myself enthralled by the atmosphere, the descriptions of schooling and city life left me feeling distracted from the story; it was that good. It’s a definite YA story, but it left me puzzled as to why I didn’t love it as much as I should’ve.
My favourite aspect of Signal to Noise was the musical references contained. As a fellow 80’s baby, I have been heavily influenced by music, much like Meche was. Music does have a specific power – it can take you back to a time and place and instantly reignite a memory, sometimes a potent one. It can evoke emotion; whether good or bad, it makes us feel things. I loved how music was the power to unlock magic within the trio of friends. It gave off the feel-good factor until, of course, it didn’t.
Meche narrates signal to Noise in dual timelines, 2009 and 1988. She is a computer programmer working and living in Scandinavia who returns home to Mexico City to attend her father’s funeral. She hasn’t been back since she left at age fifteen, but certain things are expected of her. First, her mother tasks her with clearing out her father’s record collection. During this time, she finds herself dwelling on the past and thinking of her old friends, Daniela and Sebastian. Unfortunately, they didn’t part on good terms, and she wonders if they’re happy, married, and have children.
I struggled to understand and accept Meche’s actions as a teenager. She didn’t come across as very likable and treated her friends like dirt. I get that teenagers are full of hormones, and their actions can often appear irrational to a level-headed adult, but surely she was aware of how badly she treated everyone around her? Her friends, mother, and father all got the sharp end of her tongue. She was emotionally traumatised when her mother and father split up, but her dad loved the bottle more than he loved his family, so it ought to have been a relief.
We shift from 2009 to 1988 to witness firsthand the events that led to that devastating decision to leave at fifteen. The anger and the distain between Meche and Sebastian is palpable. Jealousy and hurt fuel both to be as obnoxious to one another without realising they love one another—a tragedy of miscommunication.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Silvia Moreno-Garcia is the author of The Daughter of Doctor Moreau, Velvet Was the Night, Mexican Gothic, Gods of Jade and Shadow, and many other books. She has won the Locus and British Fantasy awards for her work as a novelist, and the World Fantasy Award as an editor.
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