All The Rage deals with so many things that disturb and scare me, it’s hard to know where to begin. Obviously there is the whole rape issue, but there’s also another terrifying issue - trying to tell the truth and having everyone call you a liar. It’s such a realistic portrayal of rape culture and victim-blaming
All The Rage asks so many questions, but answers very few because the questions it asks really have no answers. I just kept wondering if Romy’s post-attack experience would have been the same if she’d lived in a big city instead of a small town? We all know that victim-blaming is a thing, but would she have been believed if the perpetrator’s family hadn’t owned the whole town? And how much of a part did Penny’s email play?
All The Rage is the right name for this book - the author manipulates her readers so skilfully until you just want to jump in the pages and punch all the ignorant townsfolk. And the thing that caused me the most rage? It was the fact that this book is totally believable. There wasn’t a single point where I thought, ‘No, that wouldn’t happen. People wouldn’t react like that.’ Because it’s true. Sadly we live in a society where the first thing people ask after a rape is reported is, ‘Was she drunk?’ Closely followed by, ‘What was she wearing?’
I loved the fact that Romy was flawed in her own way. She was never painted as a saint either before or after her attack and this made her situation all the more real. Likewise, the other characters were well balanced. I totally got Romy’s mum’s position - that horror of having something terrible happen to your beloved child and not being able to do anything about it and the way she kept begging Romy to open up and let her in.
There was some romance in this and I really liked Leon. When he was introduced I thought, ‘Oh god, please don’t let our MC be ‘fixed’ by True Love. Please. Not that.’ Thankfully this isn’t Leon’s purpose - his abundance of character was mostly used as a foil to show up Romy’s sick numbness and to show how difficult it was for Romy to date or have a relationship in the aftermath of not only her rape but also dealing with the hatred of the town.
The disappearance of another girl in town also serves to raise questions - if Romy had been popular or rich, would her story have been believed? What would the town’s reaction have been if Romy had been the girl who had gone missing?
The only criticism I’d have of this book is that I found the narrative kind of confusing at times and there were points where I had to skip back and re-read a couple of pages to work out what had happened. I get that because this is a first -person POV and Romy’s emotions and thoughts are completely shot that she’s not going to be the most coherent of narrators, but it did pull me out of the story at points.
The only reason this book isn’t getting a full five stars is because I reserve that rating for books I will definitely read again. It’s superb, but I won’t read it again because (a) I don’t think my emotions could stand it and (b) I don’t think it would have the same resonance the second time round. It’s definitely a book everyone should read once though.
I received a copy of All The Rage in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Macmillan Children’s Books and Netgalley.