This month’s Banging Book Club pick was All the Rage by Courtney Summers — another YA book on that cheery topic of rape culture in small towns. It’s reminiscent of Asking for It: both books follow “imperfect” rape victims, who are seen by the town as liars who seduced their rapists. Also in both books, the rapists themselves were the town’s “golden boys”; it is the boys’ “promising careers” that the townspeople are keen to protect.
But while they cover similar ground, the novels are actually very different. All the Rage picks up where Asking for It left off: one year after the rape, Romy is a social pariah hated by her classmates for “crying rape” (despite never having officially pressed charges). Courtney Summers spends the novel’s first section showing us how deeply the trauma has affected Romy’s self-worth, and her feeling of ownership over her own body — before introducing the plot’s driving force: another girl from the town goes missing.
I read the whole book in one day and then couldn’t sleep: it’s a devastating look at rape culture seen through the magnifying lens of a small town community that had me, much like Romy does when she meets her boyfriend’s pregnant sister, gritting my teeth at the thought of bringing more young girls into this world.
In the Goodreads discussion, it was suggested that All the Rage is at least slightly easier to read than Asking for It: Romy struggles to talk to her mother about what happened, but it is at least clear that both her mother and stepfather believe her and want to support her.
“That being said I found it less bleak than Asking For It because there were people who loved, supported and most importantly believed her.” — Dani, Goodreads discussion
In the Banging Book Club podcast, the girls pointed out that it is also less claustrophobic than Asking for It: in the latter book, Emma’s rape is broadcast inescapably on the internet, whereas Romy is able to get a job in the next town where she can be anonymous. On the other hand, the confusing timeline made the book feel incredibly stifling. It’s divided into three time periods — “Now”, “Two Weeks Earlier” and “After” — but both “Now” sections begin with flashbacks to Romy’s rape a year earlier. The downside of this was that I had to re-read the first chapter a few times to figure out what was going on, but it did have the powerful effect of showing how much Romy’s past trauma was still entangled in her present.
— Georgiaa Dougal (@wtfitsdougal) April 12, 2016
If you haven’t read the book yet, check out the Banging Book Club’s spoiler-free review first:
And if you’re ready to dive in to the full discussion, here’s the podcast: