Book review: Signal to Noise

This books was A DELIGHT. I hope Silvia Moreno-Garcia has more books up her sleeve.

I read it in one day.

The plot is relatively straightforward but takes place in 2 different times. The first is 1988/1989, when the main protagonists are 15/16 and the other is in 2009 when they are older.

The first plot charts the development of magic within the three main characters: Mercedes (Meche), Daniela and Sebastian. It sounds weird, but it totally works: they can cast spells through vinyl records that have power. But there's a big break that you gradually find out about through the charting of the plot in the future. Mercedes' father has died and she's back in Mexico city to sort out his belongings (mainly records again) and go to the funeral. The plot goes back and forth between the two time periods, which worked really well. You get hints of the big break in the future and by the last couple of chapters you get the big payoff.

The characters are so well written, even as teenagers. I just had to compulsively read to find out what the event that drove them apart. And of course, at it's heart is stupid teenagery feelings and misunderstandings. But it didn't come across as cloying and awful, it was just heartrending.

Also, may I say, that the gender balance is excellent. Not only 2 of the triumvirate girls, other significant supporting characters are Meche's mom, Meche's grandmother and another girl at school. As well, one of the main teacher's is a woman. The main guys are basically outnumbered, being Merche's father, the third of the trio of friends Sebastian and another boy at school.

As well, the setting is delightfully different, taking place in Mexico City. Though the story is mostly told through music and emotion rather than geography or history - so it isn't really confusing at all. I knew enough of the music to follow along (though some of the latin singers I didn't get).

Anyway, it was great. I would recommend it to everyone as it's a really smart read. It pulled at the old heartstrings as well.