REVIEW: Tonight We Rule The World by Zack Smedley

From the critically acclaimed author of Deposing Nathancomes 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.


Young Adult novel, intense subject matter, well-written, important subjects.


Zack Smedley’s debut novel “Deposing Nathan” is quite possibly one of the best YA books I have ever read. I had high expectations when I received my copy of “Tonight We Rule the World”. Zack’s second novel was just as moving as his first and I think, perhaps, even more important.

This book is a story about a young man named Owen. At the beginning of the story, he has no friends and there is very little going on in his life that isn’t routine. Then he meets Lily. Lily wants to be a writer and shares with Owen a writing game that helps to forge their friendship. Lily introduces Owen to a world full of friends, creativity, acceptance and the two begin a relationship

When a student at the school reports that Owen was sexually assaulted on a recent school trip and an investigation begins, everything changes. Owen must navigate his own thoughts and feelings, the environment at school as curiosity overtakes the student body, his father’s anger, and fierce determination to find out who hurt his son. In the middle of the maelstrom of concern and curiosity is Owen and all he wants is for no one to find out who assaulted him.

I have been thinking a lot about this story since I finished it. It’s one of those books that has lingered in my mind. There are some intense issues in this book and some shocking and frightening scenes. I found them all to be moving, timely, and handled with finesse.

I can honestly say that I have never read a book like this before.

What stands out for me is Zack’s writing. Zack has a remarkable way of using words to paint a picture with such detail that it always draws me into the story completely. The characters he creates have clear and unique voices. I found Owen to be a remarkable character. Early on Owen reveals that he is on the Autism spectrum. This resonated for me as it was simply revealed as something about Owen, not as a disability, not as an excuse, or as something that made him “less than”.

I really appreciated the way that Zack wrote Owen’s thought patterns. It was remarkable to see this character evolve. There was so much emotion and hurt and I felt as though I was with Owen from the beginning until his first steps moving forwards. This book is a full journey.

A beautiful story. Absolutely beautiful.


Things You May Want To Know: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (SPOILERS) Descriptions of PTSD, violence, anger, physical and emotional abuse, gaslighting, physical abuse in a relationship, death of a cat (minor incident, a memory), sexual assault, emotional abuse within a relationship.

Here are the content warnings from the author’s website.


Goodreads || Author

I received an ARC of Tonight We Rule The World  by Zack Smedley from Page Street Kids via the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

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