I received this book for free from Publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.All the Rage by Courtney Summers
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on April 14th, 2015
Genres: Abuse, Contemporary, Young Adult
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.
With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?
I’d never before read a book by Courtney Summers, but I’ve been hearing amazing things about them all the time. So when the opportunity arose to read All the Rage, I figured I should grab it. I was slightly scared of it, because books with such heavy topics are usually far outside my comfort zone. But the subject matter is important, and I wanted to see how this could completely crush my feels. All the Rage is an important and powerful book, for sure.
If you missed it in the blurb, All the Rage is about Romy, a rape victim, who is subsequently ostracized in her community. It paints a painful and realistic portrait of our society today, which jumps so eagerly to victim blaming and silencing. When Romy’s accusation comes out, she is not only cut off from her friends, but she’s bullied in school and becomes a shell of the person she used to be. She has certain compulsions that keep her going, but she’s barely holding on. When people refused to believe her and silenced her to prevent more drama, they effectively killed her.
As you might expect, All the Rage is heavy. It’s powerful and painful and will make you hate society for being so messed up. Stories like these happen far too often, and when you see the way that Romy is treated in this small town where everybody knows everybody’s business, you may just lose faith in humanity. Romy’s hopelessness will assault your feels when, for example, she hopes a pregnant woman doesn’t have a girl. She hopes it’s not a girl, because life would just be way too hard for her. Let it be a boy, because things would be so much easier. Excuse me while I dab at the water that is leaking out of my eyes.
A large part of this book focuses on how Romy now has trouble accepting love from those around her. Her parents are actually really great, but there is a degree of hesitance there. They will always be worried about her now, and she doesn’t want to be looked at with pity at all. She finds most of her solace in her part-time job out of town, where she meets a guy who doesn’t know what happened. Romy is now inherently distrustful of men and scared of intimacy – of ever being violated again – but this seems to be a nice guy, and with him she could be different. Free from the shell she’d become. The romance there is light, and I liked it but didn’t love it – but I did love the emotional journey this took Romy on. Facing your demons is hard, but pretending to be someone you’re not just isn’t healthy.
There’s also a mystery aspect partway through the book, as Romy’s former best friend disappears. Her disappearance furthers the split between Romy and the community, and Romy’s internal struggle becomes much harder when she’s confronted with the feeling that if she’d gone missing, people wouldn’t care so much. In fact, they might all be better off. Murder on your feels, for real. However, the resolution to this mystery was a bit sloppy to me. I can’t quite pinpoint whether or not I think it was necessary in the story. I think it just lacked a kind of intensity and climax that I was expecting, given the overall subject matter and the blurb. But the mystery did keep me turning the pages, desperate to find out what happened and who precisely was involved.
I will say that I was slightly confused by the story at times, because there are passages in third person – including the prologue – while the rest of the book is in first person. Now, with that in mind, and the mention of “another victim” in the blurb, I thought that the 3rd person sections were about somebody else. It wasn’t until far later in the book that I realized it was still about Romy, and it was a stylistic choice to reflect how she looks back on her rape as having happened to a completely different person. She involuntarily remembers the experience almost as if she’s watching a movie. This is one of the ways that Summers makes important and creative stylistic choices that will clearly be impactful for most readers, but it kind of flew over my head.
I think what’s most important to note about All the Rage is that it’s not a book that’ll spell everything out for you. It’s a book to digest slowly, taking in the dramatic scenes and thinking to yourself what it all means and represents. Summers took the advice of “Show, don’t tell,” to heart. I think that’s great for certain contexts – this book would do so well as a book club book or as a discussion book in class. But for my personal preference, I would have liked a bit more clarity, a bit more specificity. I really had to sit and think for a couple of days how I felt about this book and what certain passages meant and what Romy’s actions were trying to covey – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some readers like that style of book, and I certainly think it’s well-executed. But whether it was my mood at the time or my general disposition, I found it’s not the most effective style for me.
Though the message in All the Rage is clearly an important one that I hope will have a tremendous impact for many readers, I must admit that for me it wasn’t the most emotional experience, and I sometimes had trouble connecting to it. And I think that this is mostly because of the emotionless, detached tone of voice. And I completely understand why that was the case. I can only imagine that a rape victim who is cast out of society would feel completely dead inside and be so withdrawn. I get it. It’s a realistic view of such a character. But for me I think there would have been more impact if I had known how Romy was before the attack. If there had been scenes of a vibrant, regular high school girl, who later is turned into this shell, I think the emotional impact would have been far greater for me. Or if there were scenes past the end of the book, where Romy does start to speak up again, that would also have had more impact for me. Preferably both. As it was, I just had difficulty connecting and letting her pain wash over me because the experience is just so far away from my own and we only got this narrow view in terms of timeline.
Summing Up:This review is tremendously long, and I think that shows the best thing about All the Rage: it spawns so many thoughts. This story is important and powerful, one that I hope reaches many readers – teenage girls, young adults, and certainly all rape victims. It’s a book that will make you look at society and demand, “Why???” Hopefully, it is one that will inspire change. Though it may seem like I have a lot of critiques in this review, most of them come down to, “It’s not you, it’s me.” Summers has written an important story in a beautiful style – but it wasn’t the most impactful experience for me.
GIF it to me straight!
Recommended To:Readers who like “thinky” books and tough subjects.
About Courtney Summers
Courtney Summers lives and writes in Canada, where she divides most of her time between a camera, a piano and a word processing program. She is also the author of What Goes Around, This is Not a Test, Fall for Anything, Some Girls Are, Cracked Up to Be, and Please Remain Calm.
Website • Tumblr • Twitter • Facebook • Instagram
As part of the blog tour, St. Martin’s Press is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of All the Rage! Experience all the pain, rage, and heartbreak yourself.
- You must fill in the Rafflecopter below to enter.
- This giveaway is US/Canada only!
- You must be 18 years of age or older to enter, or 13+ years old with parental permission.
- Any entrants who are found to be gaming the system will be disqualified.
- The giveaway runs until May 4th, at 11:59 p.m. EST.
- When the contest ends, the winner will be announced here and emailed. The winner will have 48 hours to respond, before another winner is picked.
- I am not responsible for items lost or damaged in the mail.
a Rafflecopter giveaway