Signal To Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia


A literary fantasy about love, music and sorcery, set against the background of Mexico City.

Mexico City, 1988: Long before iTunes or MP3s, you said “I love you” with a mixtape. Meche, awkward and fifteen, has two equally unhip friends — Sebastian and Daniela — and a whole lot of vinyl records to keep her company. When she discovers how to cast spells using music, the future looks brighter for the trio. With help from this newfound magic, the three friends will piece together their broken families, change their status as non-entities, and maybe even find love…

Mexico City, 2009: Two decades after abandoning the metropolis, Meche returns for her estranged father’s funeral. It’s hard enough to cope with her family, but then she runs into Sebastian, and it revives memories from her childhood she thought she buried a long time ago. What really happened back then? What precipitated the bitter falling out with her father? And, is there any magic left?

My thoughts

I loved the premise, along with the bright cover, but the story felt weirdly flat for me and I think it was because I really didn’t like the main character, Meche. She didn’t seem to have any redeeming characteristics, being both a user and abuser of her friends. Which brings me to my next issue – how did she have friends, let alone keep them? Which made someone loving her a bit of a stretch.

It also took a very long time for the story to get going. I remember at the halfway mark wondering if and when it would get interesting. Thankfully the story itself did. It’s told in two timelines – 1988 and 2009 – and this is a plot device I usually enjoy except that the voices sounded the same in each. Despite being 21 years older, there didn’t seem to be any maturation of the characters. The second half was more interesting to read though and finally felt as though the story was moving forward.

Having loved Mexican Gothic I was full of anticipation for this and I’m sure that coloured my expectations but Signal To Noise just never really got going for me.

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