Reviews of Tonight We Rule the World by Zack Smedley

Tonight We Rule the World

by Zack Smedley

Tonight We Rule the World by Zack Smedley X
Tonight We Rule the World by Zack Smedley
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2021, 352 pages

    Paperback:
    May 1, 2023, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Callum McLaughlin
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About this Book

Book Summary

From the critically acclaimed author of Deposing Nathan comes an explosive examination of identity, voice, and the indelible ways our stories are rewritten by others.

In the beginning, Owen's story was blank...then he was befriended by Lily, the aspiring author who helped him find his voice. Together, the two have spent years navigating first love and amassing an inseparable friend group. But all of it is upended one day when his school's administration learns Owen's secret: that he was sexually assaulted by a classmate.

In the ensuing investigation, everyone scrambles to hold their worlds together.

Owen, still wrestling with his self-destructive thoughts and choices.

His father, a mission-driven military vet ready to start a war to find his son's attacker.

The school bureaucrats, who seem most concerned with kowtowing to the local media attention.

And Lily, who can't learn that Owen is the mystery victim everyone is talking about...because once she does, it will set off a chain of events that will change their lives forever.

Heartbreaking and hopeful, this is a coming-of-age story that explores how we rebuild after the world comes crumbling down.

Chapter One

OF ALL THE THINGS I LEARNED IN MY YEARS GROWING up, the most important one was to never get in the crosshairs of Lily Caldwell. Lily: the sweetest angel you'd ever meet—as long as she liked you. And in fairness, she liked everyone by default. It was a tall order to wind up on her shit list; but if you did, you had serious problems.

I saw this firsthand more than once, being her boyfriend and all. And don't get me wrong; we had some wonderful years together. But trust me when I say I know what I'm talking about.


Snapsnap. Snapsnap.

I stretch and release the bracelet around my wrist, letting the wooden beads flick my skin in sets of two. Onetwo. Onetwo. When I was younger, I had more conspicuous forms of stimming when I was on edge—clicking my pen, rocking back and forth in my chair—but then Lily made me this fidget bracelet for my fifteenth birthday, and I've used it ever since.

Our school's Rent-a-Cop stares at me from his chair. The glint of his badge in the...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

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The novel delves into issues as wide-ranging as loyalty, abuse, gender, PTSD, gaslighting, sexuality, toxic masculinity and warped plays for power. It's a tangled web, but the narrative never feels bloated, and Owen remains the lynchpin that holds everything together. It's also important to note that despite the many heavy themes at play, Owen's beautiful friendships and blossoming sense of self provide scope for moments of joy. In a lot of ways, this is also a novel about the time in our lives during which — for many of us — our friends serve as found family, and the bittersweetness of having to forge one's own path...continued

Full Review Members Only (583 words).

(Reviewed by Callum McLaughlin).

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
The story is superbly told...Book clubs and discussion groups will have a lot to ponder...Stellar and haunting.

Library Journal
The structure of the novel, partially told through diary entries, successfully adds suspense and shows how difficult it can be to move forward and just exist in the aftermath of a horrific incident. A painful and important look at toxic relationships, rape, power, and control from a vantage point not often seen in YA.

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Beyond the Book

Young Adult Novels Exploring Sexual Abuse Against Boys

Despite its prevalence, sexual assault remains a largely taboo subject, particularly in cases where men and boys are victims. Toxic masculinity and societal pressure push many to suffer in silence, afraid of being perceived as "weak" and the repercussions this could have throughout their lives. The mental impact of this decision is explored to powerful effect in Zack Smedley's novel Tonight We Rule the World.

At least one in six men have experienced sexual assault at some point in their lives, either as children or later in life, and studies suggest this figure is in fact higher, as male victims are less likely to come forward than their female counterparts — for the very reasons mentioned above. This reiterates the importance of ...

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