Rating: 2 stars
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?
This book was a disappointment to me for so many reasons. But before I talk about why I didn’t enjoy this book like everyone else seems to, let me tell you two of the things I did like about it.
What I enjoyed about All the Rage is its realistic portrayal of rape and the culture surrounding it. For those who’ve unfortunately had this horrible experience, what Romy goes through is all too real. Especially what happens after, with the people she thought were her friends turning their back on her. These people are really cruel to her because of her accusations, which they believe to be untrue. It isn’t until the end of the story that any sort of truth is found, even though there’s still no justice for Romy. This is very realistic of our world with regards to rape culture because rape victims are never believed to be telling the truth. Even those closest to them think they are fabricating or believe the victim wanted the person who hurt them. In Romy’s case, this is apparent because before the rape, she really liked her rapist. So when he hurts her, her friends find it difficult to believe her.
Romy’s reaction to her traumatic experience is also very realistic. She feels like she can’t trust anyone in her small town because they’ve betrayed her. It doesn’t help that the accusations are against the sheriff’s son, which plays into diminishing Romy’s chance at getting any justice for what was done to her. But what I like is how real they show Romy’s trauma. She doesn’t hide any of it from the reader throughout. It’s very clear she needs help, that she now has mental health issues because of her trauma. You see this in the story from the way she applies lipstick and nail polish, as if they are her armor she can take with her out into the world. But she also uses them as a way to hide herself. She believes that if she keeps applying these products, she’ll look and be a different person. She won’t be the person who was raped, but someone else entirely. I like that this novel includes her trauma because mental illness is a topic that really needs to be talked about.
Now, what I didn’t like with All the Rage is the characters. While I appreciate Courtney Summers exploring mental illness and rape culture, I felt like she focused so much on that she didn’t create characters with any personality. Romy is the main character, but she has no character development at all during the story. During the whole book, she’s pretty much doom and gloom because she’s so busy building walls around herself that she doesn’t notice how concerned her Mom and Todd are about her. This can also be seen with her “relationship” with Leon, the only character in the book I like besides Romy’s parents and other coworkers. She’s so busy guarding herself around him that she blows any chance of happiness she could’ve had. And when she does act normal around him, she’s using him in order to be a completely different person. The rest of the characters in the story also have flat and boring personalities too because they don’t add anything to the story besides being more tormentors to Romy.
I also had a hard time feeling any sympathy for her because she kept creating more trouble for herself. This can be seen in the story when she and Penny are both missing at the same time, and they find her with no recollection of what happened. These moments keep happening throughout the story, almost like Summers wants to continuously make her character the victim. She continuously makes stupid decisions that get her in trouble, but add nothing to the overall story, which made this book that much harder to continue reading for me. The only characters in this story I feel any sympathy for are Leon and Penny. I feel sorry for Leon for having to put up with Romy while I feel sorry for Penny for sacrificing her life for Romy who I feel didn’t really deserve it.
I didn’t enjoy this book so much I stopped reading it altogether. I stopped reading because I honestly didn’t know if I wanted to find out how everything ended or not. I also stopped because of how confusing the storyline was written. One minute, the story would be in the present, then we’d be back in the past with no warning. I’d stop reading and when I’d come back, I’d be so confused because nothing is explained to us. I also stopped reading because I just couldn’t deal with Romy’s character, which I explain in the previous paragraph. But I came back because I hate leaving books unfinished, and figured I should see this one through to the end. And I wasn’t disappointed because the last half of the book was better than the beginning, though the ending was pretty much a flop.
I also hated that the main antagonist isn’t really a character in this book. Throughout the story, Romy mentions what happened to her, but the person who truly hurt her is never physically present in the book. Yes, you get introduced to his lovely father and friends, but you never meet or deal with him in any way. I think this is a terrible oversight on Summers’s part because people who are raped by someone they know have to deal with seeing that person after the rape happens.
The plot of All the Rage is also horribly written. I hated it because so much was going on along with Romy learning to recover from her trauma. I also just found most of it to be a little pointless too because it didn’t move the story forward, or make Romy come to terms with what happened to her. For example, that scene with the stranger near the end when she finds Penny’s car is completely ridiculous because it really doesn’t add anything to the story.
To be honest, I really wanted to enjoy reading All the Rage, but this book has so many issues for me that I couldn’t. I know a lot of people like this book, and while it did have some moments where I was interested in finding out what happened, there are just too many things with this story that made it hard for me to enjoy. I really badly wanted to feel for Romy and everything she was going through, but her character is too unsympathetic for me to even entertain the notion of pretending to feel that way. So while this book was a powerful read for a lot of people, I just don’t see what makes it so special.