Signal to Noise is a magical realism novel written by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.
In my quest to read as many new SFF authors I could before Worldcon, I had bought this book from an author I had never read before. I only got a chance to read it this month as part of my Mexico TBR. I regret not reading this book earlier though, since it was amazing! I had no idea I would end up loving this book as much as I did, when I started reading it.
The story is about a girl Mercedes, nicknamed Meche and her two best friends – Sebastian and Daniela. The story starts in present day, which is 2009 and then goes back and forth between the present and the past, which is 1988 when they were teenagers. In the present, Meche no longer talks to her father or her best friends and the story slowly unveils what happened in 1988/89. Back in 1988, Meche discovers that she can do magic using music. She then teaches her friends and they together start doing black magic using music. The magic eventually destroys friendships and lives and you will discover more as you read the book.
The book talks about the responsibility that comes with power. Just because you have magical abilities, can you just curse anyone and everyone? The teenage years were beautifully portrayed and I cannot remember reading another book with such nice portrayal of friendship and love. I loved this book mostly because of the characterization. The characters seem like real people with feelings. The book had me on hook until I had finished it. It was difficult to keep it down without wondering what Meche, Sebastian and Daniela were up to next.
It is not a fast paced book by any means. It is a slow burn but never got boring for even a minute. I did not want this book to end. Also this is probably the first Magical Realism book that I enjoyed. I never liked books in that genre before but this book changed everything. I realize how amazing this genre can be. Everything looks normal but then something magical suddenly happens in someone’s life. It is even more magical than being transported to a different world like in traditional fantasy.
The novel is set in Mexico and that makes it different and unique. Now can’t wait to try more books by this author. This book was written very well. This book is also full of references to songs, albums and music from 1980s – both Mexican and English. There are some references to yummy Mexican food as well. I am not sure why this book isn’t more famous. It is now one of my all-time favorites and I am definitely going to reread it multiple times in the future.
Some of my favorite quotes from this book –
“There is magic everywhere, if you look carefully.”
“Magic gets you what you want, but it doesn’t solve your problems.”
“If happiness doesn’t come to you, you take it.”
“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.”