Your Own Worst Enemy is a satirical take on politics through the lens of a high school election that had me laughing out loud.
Three candidates, three platforms, and a whirlwind of social media, gaffes, and protests makes for a ridiculous and hilarious political circus in Gordon Jack’s second highly satirical novel. Perfect for fans of Andrew Smith and Frank Portman.
They say that with great power comes great responsibility. Unless you’re student body president at Lincoln High School. Then you get all the responsibility but none of the power. And the three candidates running for president know all about that.
Stacey Wynn is the front-runner, but she didn’t count on Julia Romero entering this race. Julia is challenging Stacey for the title while also putting the moves on Stacey’s campaign adviser and only friend, Brian. And then there is Tony Guo, the way outsider. Tony is usually oblivious to the school’s political campaigning, as he’s oblivious to anything that isn’t about getting high and drinking all the Space Cow chocolate milk he can stomach. But when his favorite beverage is banned at school, a freshman political “mastermind” convinces Tony to become the voice of the little guy. But what kind of voice is that, really?
If this were an ordinary high school election, the winner would be whichever candidate was the most popular. But this year, each candidate may have to sink to a new low to win an election that could change the course of…very little.
Your Own Worst Enemy follows a group of students at Lincoln High School in the lead-up to their school election. While it is a school election, one of the main driving forces behind the book is that lots of parallels can be drawn to the 2016 presidential election in the United States. This is a story that shows the reader just how ridiculous politics can get.
Though many of the events of the book are absurd, there is an air of truthfulness; at first glance, everything seems silly, but if you think about politics in the read world, things start to feel less impossible. Other elements are present as well that I felt were very realistic, like the author’s incorporation of social media and its effect on elections, and the inclusion of microaggressions.
Your Own Worst Enemy has five main characters:
A shoe-in for the position of president (or so everyone thought), Stacey has been committed to politics for a while. I did not like Stacey. Sometimes she says some pretty problematic things, sometimes she needs to check her White privilege, and sometimes she’s just plain stupid (like assuming her friend is gay because he doesn’t have any guy friends). However, I did appreciate that she seemed to learn from her mistakes, and it is easy to see where her more evil tendencies come from upon reading about her mother.
I felt a bit conflicted when reading some of Stacey’s dialogue, as some of her microaggressions are so tiny that it felt seems as though some readers might not notice them and realize that they’re problematic, but ultimately I think it’s clear that the author doesn’t agree with what Stacey is saying.
Julia is a recent transfer from Canada. Being a POC with a White, single mother, Julia works through some identity struggles over the course of the book.
Tony is the candidate that seems so laughable that everyone thinks there’s no way he’ll win. (Sound familiar?) Tony pretty much only cares about marijuana and chocolate milk, (though I appreciated that his character has a bit more dimension than that) and his whole platform if built around bringing Space Cow milk back to the school cafeteria.
Brian is Stacey’s campaign advisor and only friend, and his main conflict in the book is balancing his friendship with Stacey and his secret crush on Julia. Honestly, their romance wasn’t my favorite, as it all happened super fast and there didn’t seem to be too much dimension to it.
Kyle is the mastermind behind Tony’s candidacy. I felt bad for Kyle, and I found him to be a pretty interesting character to read about.
Right off the bat, I liked that Your Own Worst Enemy starts at the story’s grand finale and then backs up to the beginning. I enjoy this writing technique immensely, as it left me wondering throughout the whole book how the characters would manage to end up in the ridiculous situation that I got a taste of in the prologue.
I also liked that the book switched between the five major characters, and I didn’t ever find myself getting mixed up between them.
And then of course, I have to mention one of my favorite aspects of the book: the humor. I love reading books that make me laugh, and I found this one to be incredibly funny.
🌟 Overall Thoughts
Before ending this review, I would just like to note that while not directly related to the content of the book, I think Your Own Worst Enemy deserves credit for both its super visually pleasing cover and its tagline, which is my absolute favorite:
When they go low, we go slightly lower.
Overall, the main romance in Your Own Worst Enemy wasn’t my favorite, and some of Stacey’s dialogue and thought processes made me feel a bit iffy, which is why I didn’t give the book four stars, but I did find it to be a very entertaining read.
Enter to win a copy of this book here! (Make sure to enter before the giveaway closes on November 27th, 2018)
I’m really sorry to all my wonderful readers from other countries, but unfortunately, this giveaway is US only.
The schedule for the blog tour for Your Own Worst Enemy can be found here if you’re interested in reading more about the book.
Do you plan on reading Your Own Worst Enemy? What are some of your favorite funny YA books? Let me know in the comments!
Thank you to Fantastic Flying Book Club for including me on the blog tour and for providing me with a review copy of this book! This in no way affected my review.