Book: The Voice on the Radio

"The Voice on the Radio" by Caroline B. CooneyThe kidnapping is long past, and the Johnsons and the Springs are on the way to restoring their lives. As Janie Johnson tries to balance herself between the two families, she feels torn. It seems the only thing keeping her together is her love for Reeve Shields, but Reeve is away at college and Janie misses him terribly.

For Reeve, college life seems overwhelming. And as a first-time disc jockey at his college radio station, he is discovering that dead air can kill you. To fill the silence, he finds himself spilling Janie’s story over the airwaves. Reeve is so sure that Janie will never find out what’s making his broadcast such a hit that he doesn’t stop himself. What will be the price for Janie?

That last sentence on the back cover synopsis popped up so suddenly I had to do a triple take. Seeing as the focus was already on Reeve’s character, I felt dizzy from being pulled through a narrow loophole just so I could get back to Janie.

And, in my opinion, that was what’s wrong with The Voice on the Radio.

I’ve mentioned in previous post that I’m not fond of perspective changes within books. Some books, like The Lost Hero, was able to do this without being too confusing–and the shifts in point-of-view really did help move the story, and the characters, forward. But here in The Voice in the Radio, we only have to characters moving–neither of which are the main protagonist: Janie.

Unlike before, the book preceding this one did not end on a cliffhanger. We get a sense of closure from the characters; and had I not known about the next two books, I would have thought it was the end already. And I have to say, reading The Voice on the Radio, I would have thought this was a new book unrelated to the first two, save for the same back story.

In The Face on the Milk Carton, and Whatever Happened to Janie?, we got to know Janie’s boyfriend Reeve Shields. He might be a bit horny, with a rebel streak, but he’s a teenager. The author actually nailed his characterization. But when we meet Reeve in the third book, it feels as if he’s not the same character we met before. In this book, he’s the meanest of jerks–and the lowest of scums.

As a writer, I do not get why you would want to do this with one of your more sympathetic characters. Especially when your main character is as likeable as the sound nails make when being run through a blackboard.

Reeve is not a background character you can use as a plot device–he supports the main story of the actual protagonist of the books! And now, just because the story needs a villain–poof! Reeves is one!

Sure, he doesn’t actually become a full-out villain. But when you’re revealing secrets told to you in confidential, you’re definitely a bad guy. And we were never prepared for this, because in the first two books, Reeves was just a teenage boy. He didn’t even show interest in radio until the first chapter of this book, when we suddenly get dumped with information about him.

Yes, I get that he wants to get out of his older siblings’ shadow. And had the radio thing been planted before, I probably wouldn’t be this problematic about it.

As it is, the only thing I liked about this book was Janie’s personality development. And the introduction, or rather the promotion, of Brian. Finally, we get a sane character.

Overall, I have to say I don’t like The Voice on the Radio as much as I did the first book in the series. But that’s just me.

Check out what other people have to say about the book:
Bookworm Burrow
Word for Teens
Amazon Customer Reviews

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