Review: Tonight We Rule the World by Zack Smedley

Tonight We Rule the World by Zack Smedley

Tonight We Rule the World
Zack Smedley
Page Street Kids
Published October 12, 2021

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Tonight We Rule the World

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.

Tonight We Rule the World on Goodreads

My Review

First, there are a lot of things about this book that I really liked. I felt like Owen’s character was really real and gripping. I loved the way the friendships with his group developed and especially the scene on the beach with them. So many of those moments felt exactly the way I remember my high school friendships feeling, so reading them was super nostalgic for me.

I also thought it was interesting that on one side, Owen had his dad and his family’s struggles with his dad’s PTSD and how to respond to it. Then on the other side, there’s Owen with a relationship that spirals into abuse. It highlighted how complex relationships can be– how there can be good elements tangled in with toxic or abusive ones and how difficult that can be to sort out.

It was also really weird for me as a reader because as I read some of the conversations between Owen and his abuser and Owen’s thoughts as he scrambled to stay ahead of the gaslighting and manipulation, I realized I’d been in those same conversations before, in Owen’s shoes. So that was both validating but also kind of ripping open a past wound I wasn’t prepared for? I think it was good, but I just didn’t expect to experience that.

I guess all of that together makes this book one of those to approach with attention to triggers. The story raised some really good points about toxic and abusive relationships and consent. It also explores some gender stereotypes in a way that may expose some prejudices or expectations we may not realize we have. I know it did that for me.

I think readers who like dark, issue-driven stories with memorable characters will want to check out TONIGHT WE RULE THE WORLD. I’d recommend it to fans of Courtney Summers or Lauren Oliver.

Tonight We Rule the World on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 16 up.

Owen is diagnosed with ASD and is bisexual. His dad is a Marines veteran with PTSD.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used somewhat frequently.

Romance/Sexual Content – Trigger warning for rape.
Several references to masturbation. Kissing between boy and girl, making out. One scene showing rape.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
One scene showing rape. Several scenes show some gaslighting and manipulation. This escalates to physical violence on multiple occasions. Owen recalls a memory in which he woke his dad up in the middle of the night and his dad hit him due to his PTSD.

Drug Content
Some references to teens smoking pot and drinking alcohol.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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