BooksReview

Review: All the Rage by Courtney Summers

Sofia Alvarado Mendoza ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Fans of Courtney Summers will be delighted with All the Rage, as it has similar elements to her previous work. The strong social message and realistic portrayal of current issues will captivate new audiences. All the Rage follows the story of Romy, a girl who was branded as a liar after confessing she was raped by the sheriff’s son. All eyes are on Romy until the town’s golden girl goes missing, causing hidden secrets to be revealed and forcing everyone in town to face the truth.

Published by St. Martin’s Griffin on April 14, 2015, All the Rage is Courtney Summers’s fifth novel. Like her previous novels, it follows a female protagonist, Romy Grey, who struggles with bullying, slut-shaming, and the emotional consequences of being sexually assaulted. At its core, the novel highlights the problematic nature of rape culture and the struggles teenage girls suffer as a consequence of it.

“All the Rage” cover. Source: St. Martin’s Griffin

Romy Grey is the strongest element of the story. Like Summers’s past protagonists, she is not meant to be a likeable character; she is meant to be real. Despite having to deal with a heavy emotional drama, the novel manages to avoid a melodramatic tone by showing Romy coping with the trauma in several ways. Her emotions are never explicitly mentioned, but rather shown through her interactions with others, particularly other girls. The most heartfelt subplot of the story is Romy’s interaction with another character’s baby daughter, which reflects her overall struggle with what it means to be a woman.

Even though the novel does have a romantic subplot, the way in which it is handled is refreshing. This is not the story of a boy rescuing a girl. It is a story of a girl’s struggle with trauma and her acceptance of her own reactions to the trauma. In many ways, Romy has to learn that it is okay for her to be angry, and most importantly that she can find a way to feel comfortable with herself again.

The novel’s biggest flaw is its close similarity to two of Summer’s previous novels, particularly Some Girls Are. In several ways, All the Rage feels like an updated version of the previous stories, with well-rounded characters and an updated representation of the same social issues. Additionally, the voice feels immature during the first part of the story, which might alienate more mature readers. The ending, although powerful, seems rushed.

As the title indicates, anger is one of the emotions most prominent in the book. However, the anger textually present in the book is not the important one. The anger that readers will feel after turning the last page is the one that matters. The accurate portrayal of slut-shaming and rape culture will create disgust among readers. Nevertheless, this reaction is necessary to break the same paradigms the book is trying to highlight.

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