Book Review: All the Rage

Posted April 29, 2015 by Kara in book review, Kara, Lyn / 5 Comments

Book Review: All the RageAll the Rage by Courtney Summers
Published by St. Martin's Press on April 14th, 2015
Genres: contemporary, young adult
Pages: 321
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher, Purchased
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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?

Hello Readers!

Today on the blog, Kara and Lyn are reviewing All the Rage as a team, because some novels just need to be discussed and examined instead of simply reviewed. The content of the story and some of the topics may be difficult for some readers. Trigger warning: rape.

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Lyn: So, damn, this book. I’ve read Summer’s books before, but this one is, by far, the best!

Kara: I liked it a lot, but for some reason, I always have an emotional disconnect to her work. It was the same thing with This is Not a Test too. Like I really LOVE her writing and the topics she covers, but something seems to be missing for me. And I can never pinpoint what it is.

That said, I think she covered a difficult topic wonderfully. It was horrific and SO hard to read, but I think she captured what it was like to be a rape victim really well.

Lyn: I see that quite a few people say the same thing; that it is hard to connect with her characters. So you are definitely not alone there. I have to confess that I project myself in the main character role in her novels because her girls are so self deprecating, and I do the same thing. I think it is very therapeutic to read that I am not alone when it comes to tearing myself down.

The main reason I loved this book is that she digs into the aftermath. Rape books always cover the fallout well, but Summers covers it with such a realistic, gritty approach. I think it is just as important for us to discuss the stigma of girls who are raped and the reputation that seems automatically assigned to them when they attempt to seek out justice for what happened. It was bloody painful to read about what happened when Romy fell from social grace. It is just as compelling and infuriating as rape apologists.

Kara: Yeah, really good point. The bullying was horrible and so hard to read. That’s the part I always connect with because it’s something I experienced a lot in school. Obviously I wasn’t raped, so that brings an even more depressing element into the story. I couldn’t help but compare this novel to the Steubenville case, because at times you think, “Could this really happen? It seems so hard to believe,” and yet, yes it IS because it freaking HAPPENED. What the hell is wrong with people?

Anyway, so this book completely worked for me on a realistic level because I WAS able to make that connection. And as far as you being able to relate with Romy because of the self-deprecating thing, I honestly wish I could find that kind of connection with a character. I wish I could read that way. I envy you. Not the self-deprecating part at all, but the connection you can build. Anyway… 🙂

Lyn: Oh, Kara, yes! Building those real-world connections. Someone retweeted a message where a guy pointed out that in the first month of college, you already know all of the “sluts”, but it takes years for anyone to point out the rapist. When I was reading up on the female student who started to carry her mattress around on campus to bring awareness to rape, there were so many comments calling her bitter, an attention whore, and a bitchy whiner. Nothing was said about the male student who is suing the school because he felt that he wasn’t protected against her accusations. On top of that, he came forward as the accused, she never mentioned him! Yet she shoulders all of the blame, all of the bullying and all of the judgement. It very much makes me sick.

Well, this was a point I was going to bring up in my review, and I think it ties in well to connecting to Romy. When I started my first job, I was very meek and shy, and the men working at the fast food joint picked up on it quickly. They were always grabbing my butt at work and at school. I blamed myself for the harassment, because if I didn’t have such a large ass, or if my tits were smaller, then it would not have happened. Romy has the same line of thought in the book: she blamed herself because of her body and her gender. I tweeted Summers after I read the book and thanked her for addressing this self abuse, because I do believe that sexually harassed women and girls blame their bodies instead of the criminal. That is what helped me build that bridge to Romy. Personal experience.

Kara: No wonder you had such an emotional experience reading this book. When I think about the way the media portrayed the Steubenville case too, I wanted to vomit, “Those poor boys. What will happen to their future now?” And they didn’t even care to give the same kind of sympathy to the victim. I remember how hard it was to be on Twitter when all of that was going on because it was just disgusting and overwhelmingly hard to understand how ANYONE could have a viewpoint like that. I have a hard time having empathy with people like that on ANY level.

And I am so sorry that you blamed yourself for what happened because those boys were horrible. Touching someone because they were shy? I hope they got hit by a bus later in life.

What did you think about the story itself? Did you like it? How did you feel about the writing? I have to say that her writing is a little hard for me to follow sometimes. I think part of that might be because I read it on my kindle and the formatting tends to be a little wonky, but the way the prologue and first paragraph were handled kind of confused me. There are just paragraphs of hers where I have to go back and reread, and that is not something I really like to do, I guess?

Lyn: I am so SICK of that: Oh, the poor boys! Just…I can’t even put it into words. When that very line popped up in the novel, I almost threw up, I was so angry. What kind of “bright future” is out there for a man who drugs underaged girls and then takes advantage of them? Look at the Bill Cosby case! All of these women have come forward, and all of them have been labeled as liars, sluts, gold diggers and failing actresses in need of a career boost. We really have a problem, and I hope that some changes happening today addresses this faulty logic.

Thank you. I became a rape victim advocate when I was older because those memories are just horrifying. I never want a young girl to go through that. I know one of the guys is in prison at the moment for touching a 12 year old girl. No surprise there.

I was very confused at the start. I was panicking because I had no idea what was happening, and I do want to get my hands on a physical copy to see if that helps. I have a theory that the reason why the writing is so helter-skelter is to support the feelings of confusion and detachment from the act of violence. I saw it as a writing device, but you could have a really good point. Sometimes the Kindle does tend to butcher the formatting.

What did you think about the mystery that was tied into the story?

Kara: Yeah, I guess I just don’t like to be confused by the writing. I am fine with being confused by the plot because I like thrillers and mysteries, but when the writing is hard to follow, I just get frustrated.

I really liked the mystery part of the story. It pretty much made the book for me. Obviously because I had a tough time due to the character detachment (though I totally understand WHY the character was written that way) I needed something else to make me love the book, and the mystery was definitely it.

I think maybe I was a little underwhelmed by the ending, but I still really enjoyed it overall. Summers excels at building atmosphere and laying out the clues in a way that ramps up the tension. Unfortunately when an author does that and then the payoff is not so big, it can be a bit anticlimactic.

Ugh, I know it sounds like I didn’t like this book very much, but I truly did. I think overall all the elements came together in a really solid way but nothing was totally perfect for me besides the themes. THOSE were handled better than any author I’ve read.

Lyn: I am a sucker for symbolism, and Summers had it here. The makeup, the beloved missing girl, the fear of intimacy – I love to see some literary skill in books while toting some heavy material.

Yeah, okay, the ending. I did expect something to come around, maybe some personal forgiveness, a break down, something. But the the book did kinda just end. It reminds me of This is Not a Test. That was another novel that just seemed to stop. Poof. Over. I thought my Kindle had cut off some of the story.

Ha, it is easier to talk about the things that bother us in a book, but I am glad that you liked it. If I were to recommend a novel to a teen or a young woman, I would name this book as a top pick, simply because it goes under the surface, and a boy did not single-handedly just solve the problem with his male magicness (even though I had a huge book-crush on Leon. I loved it!).

Kara: Oh, yes! Leon was awesome! He was the perfect love interest, and I love the way the author handled the romance. And the diversity. Yeah, I need to read more books like this.

I would also recommend this to a teen girl. Because I think it’s a book that they could relate to them and it might help them at an age when you are insecure about almost EVERYTHING.

Yes, you are right about This is Not a Test. That book just stopped too and it was unsatisfying. This was not as bad as that, but it had a similar effect. Weird how that happens with her books. I wonder if the others are like that too?

Lyn: I have a copy of Cracked Up to Be as a pre-order incentive. I’ll have to watch for that. I did feel that Some Girls Are ended appropriately. I’m not sure now. I was just so horrified and bewitched by the story, that I have completely just forgotten.

I totally gave this one a nice little boost for a romance that really worked for the novel, and for the diversity approach without making it appear as if it was just a token theme.

What did you give the book overall? I have it down as 4 stars.

Kara: Me too. I also gave it a 4. I definitely want to read her other books as well. I have an omnibus sitting here that has two of her novels in it–not sure which ones though. At some point, when I am in the mood for a darker contemporary, I will give that a shot.

Lyn: I hope it has Some Girls Are. That book competes with this one for the darkest most screwed up novel by Summers.

Kara: I think it does. 🙂

 

Kara’s Rating
four-stars

Lyn’s Rating
four-stars

5 responses to “Book Review: All the Rage

  1. I love the discussion review!! This book is definitely one that is hard to just review alone since it is so deep. This was such a hard book to read, but also so important covering how something like this stays with a person long after it’s happened.

    This was the first book I have read by this author, but I do have This Is Not A Test, and Cracked Up To Be and plan to read them soon. I can’t believe that I waited so long to read something that this author has written.

    Fantastic review Kara and Lyn! You covered this book so well.
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