Review: Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I’m so glad that Moreno-Garcia’s publisher is going back and reissuing her earliest books, because both this and Certain Dark Things were fantastic. I wasn’t sure I’d like this one – the backdrop of 80’s music didn’t appeal to me much. I wasn’t expecting this book to bring me right back to what it felt like to be a teenager and in love. There’s magic and music and teenage angst – but at its heart this book was about the complicated relationship of two best friends.

Meche returns to her childhood home, Mexico City, when her father dies. She’s now a programmer working all over the world, currently in Oslo. But this return trip brings up all the painful memories of her parents and her best friend, Sebastian. She left 20 years ago and hasn’t spoken to him since.

I won’t tell you about my own first love, but I can say it’s a feeling that’s still raw even after 30-plus years.  As a teenager I would have scoffed at the idea that 20 years later, Meche and Sebastian would still feel as powerfully as they did at 15. But as an adult I think Moreno-Garcia gets it just right. How you can love your closest friend and be absolutely terrified of that. How you can feel like yourself with one person in the world, and still push them away. How you can spend years wondering where that person is, and whether they ever think of you.

This book reminded me why “second-chance” plot lines are so popular. It’s a powerful fantasy, that we might run into that person years down the road and get to redo everything we did so wrong the first time. And a fantasy that the person is even better than we remembered — most likely you’d run into that person and not even recognize them, or they’d be terribly annoying. Still, it’s probably happened to someone.

Meche frowned as she looked into eyes which were exactly the same as she remembered them. But the rest wasn’t. And this man… she had never ridden down the boulevard on this man’s motorcycle, never scrawled idly in his books, never listened to vinyl records in an old pantyhose factory with him.

And that was that. You don’t get to rewind your life like a tape and splice it back together, pretending it never knotted and tore, when it did and you know it did.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Signal to Noise

Originally published in 2015, this was Moreno-Garcia’s first novel, and I loved the rawness of it, more than her newer works.  At first I thought it felt a little clunky, a little “young”. But by the end I couldn’t put it down. I was struck by how compelling the relationship between Meche and Sebastian is.  We should hate Meche, but I never did. She’s like a wounded animal who strikes out at the person she loves the most. I identified with her tough, mean attitude quite a bit. 

In the end what I thought was going to be a YA fantasy became something much more. This book surprised me, and that doesn’t happen all that often.  I’ll continue reading everything in Moreno-Garcia’s backlist, if it’s close to this good. 

Note: I read this book for the TBR Pile Challenge, the Backlist Reader Challenge, and the Read Around the World Challenge.

  7 comments for “Review: Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

  1. February 23, 2023 at 8:39 pm

    I just finished her book THE DAUGHTER OF DOCTOR MOREAU. It’s very good. I recommend!!

    • February 24, 2023 at 7:30 pm

      That one’s on my list! I’m glad to hear you liked it, thanks for the recommendation.

  2. February 24, 2023 at 10:50 am

    I need to go back and read this one! I keep hearing how good it is. Great review!

    • February 24, 2023 at 7:30 pm

      If you read it, I hope you like it as much as I did!

  3. February 24, 2023 at 1:28 pm

    Thanks for this – I recently read one of hers that I didn’t love as much as I expected I would, so I lost a bit of enthusiasm for trying her other books. But that excerpt you’ve quoted is powerful – I’ll seek this one out.

    • February 24, 2023 at 7:29 pm

      I didn’t love Mexican Gothic as much as some of her others, but I think her older works have a little more heart to them. Also loved Gods of Jade & Shadow. If you try this I hope you like it! I’m sure it won’t be for everyone but it resonated with me.

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