Wednesday, 20 January 2016

All the Rage by Courtney Summers

All the Rage
by Courtney Summers

UK Release Date: January 28th 2016

Summary: Kellan Turner is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. But when she speaks up, she is branded a liar. Telling the truth has cost her everything, because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town.

But when news of Kellan assaulting another girl gets out, the cost of staying silent might be more than Romy can bear.
This book isn't an easy one to review. Mostly because it's really really difficult to just form an opinion on the book itself, separate from my opinion on the subject matter.

If I had to describe the book in one word? Important. This book is so important. It was raw and honest and such a necessary story to be told.

Over the past few years I've had so many arguments with people (often guys who just don't get it, but sadly a lot of girls too) about rape. Everyone knows rape is wrong, if you ask someone if they think rape is wrong then they will be horrified that you even asked...and yet so many of those very same people, when confronted with actual rape cases? That horror morphs into this ugly ignorance.

I've seen way too many people say rape culture doesn't exist. Or say it wasn't rape/assault even if the girl (or guy) was too intoxicated to consent. I've seen them blame the victims. Shame them for wearing the wrong things or going to the wrong places or not putting up enough of a fight. Seen too many say the victim lied. And that's not even getting started on how the media reacts to these cases.

One of the most infuriating things is when those people then go on to say things like "well if it's true, why didn't they report it?"... And that's why this book is important.

It tells them why. Tells them they are a part of the problem. That society, and its treatment of women and victims of rape/sexual assault, is a big reason why a lot of rapes go unreported. And it shows what rape culture is. Shows that it does exist and that it is so wrong and so awful, and that it's so important that girls--guys too, but especially girls--need to understand that.

...Now, to try to explain my thoughts on just the book. Because the message in the book, the points it was making? It did that wonderfully.

As for the book itself... I had some issues with it. Well, one issue really.

I loved that it didn't try to fix Romy with romance (like so many of these stories do) and I loved the writing--as I do with all of Courtney's books--but I had an issue with the main character.

One of my favourite aspects of Courtney's other books is that she writes girls that are interesting, instead of trying to write them as likeable (although usually I can't help but like them anyway)...and this one was the same, and I loved that.

Loved, because -- well, it loops back to the important thing. When it comes to victims, there's often this awful hierarchy going on, where someone is judged as being less of a victim (or not a victim at all) because she looks a certain way or dresses a certain way or because of her personal/sexual history or her social status (and the book actually shows and acknowledges this in a heartbreaking way).

So I love that the main character wasn't the easiest character to like, because there's no way someone could read this book and say that she deserved it, no way that they could say what happened to her mattered less because she wasn't what they think a victim should be. What happened to her was wrong, it was awful, it was something no one should have to go through...nothing about who she is can change that.

The problem was that I couldn't emotionally connect with her really. A book like this should have wrecked me emotionally, but it didn't. It felt like I was sympathising with her...but it never really felt like I was empathising with her. I cared about what was happening in a general sort of way (and because it's a reflection of the way a lot of girls in real life get treated too) but it never felt like I specifically cared about her as a character.

Maybe because she didn't feel like particularly fleshed out? Nearly everything we get to know about her life and her as a person all links back to her being a victim (of bullying, of rape, of growing up with an alcoholic father). She didn't really get much personality beyond that...ask me to sort her into a Hogwarts house and I'll be drawing a blank because I didn't really get a sense of who she is or who she was or who she could be when she starts to heal.

That's really my only criticism of the book -- the way Romy's character was written wasn't really my cup of tea, it felt like something was lacking, but I've seen so many glowing reviews of the book that it makes me think this is just a subjective thing.

Anyway, sorry this review has been so long and rambling. To sum up: this book is incredibly important and if Courtney Summers wasn't already on my favourite authors list, she would be now. I'd rate it 4.5 stars out of 5.


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