Originally published in School Library Journal, February, 2020.
Gr. 9 & Up: The annual lock-in night at Central International School is highly anticipated and heavily attended by the diverse, well-to-do student body for both the wide range of activities and the traditional secret party. Marisa Cuevos plans for months, removing tools from the school property and bringing in extra food in order to stage an ecoprotest during the lock-in. Marisa, Lolo, Eli, Joy, and Malik chain themselves to the exits, swallow the keys, and provide a list of demands to be met, essentially taking 276 students and many teachers into a hostage-type atmosphere. As tension and frustration build, violence toward Marisa begins, and soon a group of Protectors form around her: highly athletic lesbian Amira Wahid, Celeste, a black American student and introvert, improv-loving Kenji Pierce, whose father is building the Lokoloko resort which Marisa is protesting, and Peejay Singh, a gay, charismatic, and popular student in charge of planning the party while his brother is in the hospital from a terrible accident. Though the story idea is unique, the unrealistic reactions of law enforcement in such a situation as well as some of the plot details cause the believability to plummet. There is almost too much diversity with the overload of main characters, making it very confusing to keep them all straight. Additionally, the pacing of the story is slow causing some to possibly lose interest in the outcome. Not recommended for purchase, as there are better choices with highly diverse characters and stronger story structure.