We Didn't Ask for This

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 07 May 2020

Member Reviews

Mostly nomadic because of her parents’ jobs, Marissa Cuervas has found scuba diving to be her passion.  But the more diving she does, the more she can see how the human race is killing the oceans. 

Central International School’s lock-in night is the most anticipated night in the entire school year.  This year, Marissa and a few of her friends decide that it is the perfect time to make a statement.  They lock themselves to the exit doors and refuse to let anyone enter or leave until their list of demands are met. 

Not all of the students are onboard with Marissa’s plan.  Many had other goals for the night: to win an athletic competition, to reveal intentions to a crush, to make friends, to try something new.  Some focus their energy on getting the doors open and some turn a blind eye to Marissa and her cause and forge ahead with their own agenda.

The many shifting points of view make the reading confusing and burdensome from time to time. The message got lost a bit in the gooey “their eyes met and they saw that they had always love each other” vibe that sprinkled here and there.  

While the idea was good, the telling fell a little flat for me. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. 

2 stars.
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A different type of plot to anything I'd ever come across before. I could feel the anticipation of the big night. 

This book actually reminded me straight away of a night my own secondary school (high school) did when I was 13. The difference was that there were no chains involved and no focus on environmental issues. But the concept was similar: a night of fun and spending time with friends (for us it was 7PM to 7AM). It was called A Night to Remember and it really was! 

Anyway, getting back to the review of this book. The characters are quickly but clearly introduced and we get a clear idea of who's who and their individual personalities and motivations for the night and in life. The scene was set within the first few chapters and the pacing was good for the theme and subject matter of the book. 

I liked how there was such a mix of nationalities at the school too. 

A very interesting novel about friendship between genders, gender relations and the ups and downs facing teens on a night they are all together in a place where they are more used to spending their days. 

Thanks to Adi Alsaid and Inkyard Press for an eyeopening multicultural fun novel which includes serious current affairs that I think will make an impact on everyone, whether young or older adults. 

Thanks also to them for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. 

4 stars
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I just wasn't able to get into this book. I DNFed it at 20%. This book just wasn't for me. I did want to like it because of the synopsis of the story.
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We Didn’t Ask for This by Adi Alsaid. Central International School’s lock in is the most anticipated event every year. For most, it’s the chance to make a dream come true or try something they wouldn’t have done otherwise. This year Marisa, and a couple other students, use the lock in as a time to stage an eco protest, lock themselves to the only exit doors, and vow to keep everyone inside the school with them until their list of 30 demands are met. Marisa wants to save the oceans she loves so much and if it means ruining the most important night everyone looks forward to being a part of so be it.
The good. I loved Marisa’s determination and dedication to her cause. She was a passionate character and she wanted to be heard and so she figured out the best way to do it. (Side note, while admirable in fiction please do not actually do something like this in real life, the response to you doing it may be a lot more intense than what Marisa went through.) The different characters and their differing reactions to Marisa’s cause were interesting, and covered a varied look into how people look at people like Marisa and their causes. Some of them were very much on her side, some of them not so much on her side but recognizing the importance of what she was saying, some of them not caring one way or another, some in ignorance, etc.
The bad. The story had this overwhelming feeling of ridiculousness to it. And while the story seemed to constantly be feeding into that feeling despite the seriousness it was handling Marisa’s feelings and demands it just felt weird after awhile. The lock in itself and just everything tied to it is kinda out there, and the “this person and this person locked eyes and realized they were in love and had always been in love and how could they have forgotten” type writing just felt a little overdone sometimes. 
Overall, the story was a fairly interesting and fun read but mostly I found it dragging at times and really hard to get into and stick with before I ended up putting it down to do other things only to rinse and repeat multiple times before I finally finished it.
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I couldn’t get through this book and the constantly shifting POVs.  It was hard to suspend my disbelief and connect with the narrator, the world that was built, etc.  That said, I think a lot of the teens I work with will connect with various aspects of this book, so I plan to share it with them when it comes out.
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Teens have lots of ideas about how to save the world, some realistic, some not.  This wasn't.  No way would these kids have been unable to open a window or get out of the school (fire regulations).  Once you get past that (if you get past that and some of the other issues), there are some interesting characters.  I'm not the audience for this YA novel but I'm not sure I'd want a younger reader on that spectrum to pick this up.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.
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The night of the annual CIS lock-in devolves into chaos when a group of students chain themselves to all the doors in the building, preventing students from entering OR leaving. Their leader, Marisa, presents a list of demands to school officials in hopes of making sweeping changes in hopes of saving the coral reefs. What unfolds over lock-in night and through the next several days will change several of the students lives forever. 

I really enjoyed the "Breakfast Club" feel that the author created at different points in the story, but for the most part, I didn't love this book. Maybe it's because I'm a teacher, but the handling of this whole situation by the school and board really frustrated me. When Marisa's leg is broken, there is no way that the nurse or any school officials would ever let her sit there. I also felt that the antagonist was a little too much of a flat character, there was a really potentially beautiful moment in which a transformation could have happened, but instead the character threw himself against a glass window until it broke...just to be a horrible garbage person.
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DNF 18% - I thought this book opened pretty strong—I liked the way the perspective fluidly shifted between the students. However, we were introduced to about a dozen students and now I can’t remember half of them or what they want. Also, I don’t care. Despite the number of students, I don’t care about any of them.
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Special thanks to Inkyard Press for inviting Roundtable Reviews to be part of the book tour for We Didn't Ask For This. The message in this story is one I have very strong feelings for, and it's a current event most people are aware of. If you know who Greta Thunberg is, you'll understand the importance. Look for Adi Alsaid's novel on April 7th.

Marisa Cuervas has one goal. She wants people to take the importance of helping to save the oceans seriously. To do so, she gets a few friends to join her in a lockdown. Each of the friends and Marisa chains themselves to a school exit/entrance. Until Marisa's demands are met, no one will be allowed in or out.

This act angers some students. It's the one night of the school year that they're allowed to take over the school. It's a night where some students see their plans for the evening go awry. From the boy who finally has the courage to reveal his feelings to his crush. One hopes to prove she's just as good as the male athletes. One hopes to throw the party to end all parties. One is ready to defy his father and prove he excels at his true passion - improv. A new girl simply wants to make her first friend.

As the evening goes on, Marisa's message may get lost if she doesn't come up with a way to keep it on track. Some students are ready to do whatever it takes to get the doors open. Others simply turn their focus on how to make sure she doesn't ruin their plans. Her goals at getting others to hear her concerns for the ocean may not leave the impact she hopes.

Based on the description, I thought I'd love We Didn't Ask For This. I've seen the photos of plastics found in fish and whale bellies. I know there are main water sources in countries that are drying up and leaving towns without water. I know all about the pollution the world is experiencing. I was right there cheering Marisa on.

As the story progressed, I found myself wondering how she kept pulling it off. She and her friends were chained tightly to prevent anyone from being able to use bolt cutters, yet then could use a bucket as a toilet, sit up and get down from a stool she provided. That didn't seem possible given how tightly they were supposedly chained. 

There were sections of the story that dragged on for me. I simply struggled to keep reading. While each character was fleshed out with the narration and details, I still needed to keep a list of names and background. The switches back and forth from one character to the next took me out of the action and had me refreshing myself as characters switched back and forth. When the parents entered the picture, I did chuckle a bit as I probably would have been one of the parents asking the school why they were dragging their feet.

In the end, the story, despite it's strong message, didn't connect with me. I read it simply out of feelings that I needed to for the blog rather than feeling compelled to find out how it ended. That's never a great sign.
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I had a difficult time getting into this book. It is not a genre I normally read but wanted to try something new. I thought there was too much going on in the book.
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I’m shocked by the negative response to this novel. Many people are saying it sensationalizes climate change and trivializes the work of Gen Z to fight for proper legislature and environmental protections, but I think the book is a topical commentary on the nature of these protests and does no harm to the cause. 

Alsaid shifts perspective fluidly from one character to another, which I loved. Subtle connections between each moment in the story allowed me to travel around the school and understand the events from multiple points of view. This way, I got to know the whole cast, and how Marisa’s actions catalyzed their own stories. 

This novel is as much about the environment as it is about the bond the lock-in forges between the kids. Alsaid emphasizes the transience of the school, but I liked that the chemistry was still there. Part of the Breakfast-Club-like charm of this story is its main four-some, who have little in common, yet find a way to connect. 

Part of the fun of my reading experience came from the fact that this story was, very obviously, a story. It had serious tones and reflected on real world issues, but for the most part the novel was light and funny. The theoretical lock-in had humor itself because of how unrealistic the activities were. Cooking competitions? Sanctioned food fights? Spray-painting? A decathlon? It was great to get out of my own head and live in a world where students could run around and have fun for a weekend, even if that weekend was interrupted in the manner shown here. We Didn’t Ask for This is for anyone who also needs to imagine another life, one with this type of unrelenting fun.

I would recommend this novel to any environmentalist, as well as those looking for a bit of escapism. 4/5 stars!
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Thank you to Netgalley and Inkyard Press for the ARC.

The description of this book had me so excited to read. The idea of a school lock-in turning into a political protest had so much merit. However, It was difficult to get into. The ever-changing points of views made it difficult to follow along. There were also numerous plot points that were unbelievable. It works well to encourage people to go out and take action for what they believe in. However, the way Marisa goes about this is in the book is unbelievable. 

However, I did enjoy the characters in this book.  They were developed really well. Each character had their own set of talents and issues and they interacted well with one another. Each character had their own unique voice.
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The Quick Cut: The much anticipated annual school lock-in goes awry when a small group of students hold everyone hostage in a form of eco-protest. 
A Real Review:     Thank you to Inkyard Press for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review.   

 Everyone has something they believe in, but some would put everything on the line for what they put their faith in. Where do you stand on the spectrum? Would you put everything on the line for the beliefs you hold dear? This is the case for a girl named Marisa. 
 The Central International School’s annual lock-in is the stuff of legends. Its the event where unexpected friendships are formed, passions developed, and long held secrets told. This year, however, all the fun comes to a halt when a girl named Marisa chains herself to the entrance of the school and locks herself in place (along with enough friends to do the same and cover each exit). The only way they will unchain themselves and let everybody go free is if their list of eco demands are met - all thiry of them. Will the sudden party turned hostage situation end well? Or will it turn into carnage instead? 
 The description for this book is an intriguing one and it absolutely pulled me in. The problem is in the details that come within its pages. Between the litany of characters introduced (and tracked) along with the main storyline, there are so many trouble areas that disturb me in different ways. 
 First off, Marisa and her "eco protest" is far more than what is described. This group of teenagers feel such a passion for the planet that they hold a group of their classmates hostage and refuse to let them out - even when they have no access to proper resources like food. And this protest doesn't last a day... it lasts a week! Anyone who holds people against their will and uses it as a method to force change (which be honest, its what happened) is a terrorist. This girl put the lives of her classmates on the line along with her own to make environmental change occur. While I can applaud the passion, this isn't the way to initiate change and with the way this story plays out, I genuinely fear that anyone of the YA age group will NOT get the right message. This book in its own way seems to applaud and approve of the methods this girl uses... and it could inspire others to get the wrong message and do this in their own way (worst case scenario). 
 Second, the writing style here is not conducive to a powerful and impact-filled story. This story is told in the third person, which just felt kind of creepy in a way. It would have made for a more persuading story if the chapters were told from specific character's perspectives. I did enjoy the way that the time was tracked throughout the chapters though. 
 A story that means to say something profound and misses the mark. 
My rating: 1 out of 5
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Central International Schools annual lock-in was an event people looked forward to, and a place, where memories were made.

One hoped to prove he was the party master.
One hoped to spread his love of improv.
One hoped to prove that a female athlete was just as talented as a male athlete.
One hoped to find connection.
While, one hoped to save the reefs, and it seemed, her hopes would come at the cost of all the others.

There were things I really liked about this story, and things I didn't like so much, though overall, I have a favorable opinion.

What worked for me:

Believe it or not, I liked the third person POV narration. There was something about the narrator, that caught my attention and kept it. The story also unfolded at a good pace, frequently flipping between different locations and different characters.

This book had a very large cast, and they weren't simply bystanders, but rather fully developed characters. They were very diverse, and each came with their own set of talents and issues. Alsaid made me feel their loneliness, grief, family pressure, and sting of parental disappointment. I found myself interested in getting to know them better, and was invested in them finding some sort of peace with their situations.

One of my favorite things, was the wonderful friendship born between these characters, who hailed from different social circles as they bound together to protect "the protester". Though, she sort of torpedoed their plans for the evening, the students still believed in Marisa's cause and her conviction. They rose up to support her, both figuratively and literally. It warmed my heart to see them put aside their wants and needs to come to the aid of Marisa.

The not so much for me:

I do admire those with passion for a cause, and Marisa had that in spades. However, the glorification of her approach was off putting for me. I do appreciate, that Alsaid acknowledged her protest walked a fine line between peaceful protest and a hostage situation, it still was difficult for me to condone her behavior.

Overall: Though I appreciated the focus on activism and the environment, I found myself much more interested in the friendship aspect of the story, and wanted more of that.
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ARC provided by NetGalley

I have some feelings about this book, overall the concept was fascinating but it really just didn’t come together very well. As the story progressed it just got more and more unrealistic. I mean come on, an entire week!? That must have broken so many laws but still nothing was done?
Second off, I did not like Marisa. Her cause was just and I understand her motivations but how she acted on it I found was incredibly selfish. She could have potentially gotten everyone killed if an emergency arouse. The fact she would go as far go endanger hundreds of children’s lives just to prove her point just crossed the line. If she wanted to chain herself to a building, that would’ve been better then locking herself to the door and locking everyone inside for over a week! 
This novel had the right idea, but it really wasn’t portrayed right.
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Thank you Netgalley and publishers for sending me this arc. I will be reviewing this book.properly in the near future with an honest teview.
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*3.5 stars*

This is a novel about activism, standing up for what you believe in, and making very big stands. A high school filled with rich kids (often with important parents) is celebrating its yearly lock-in. While everyone anticipates games, movies, and a secret (yet epic) party, they aren't expecting a group of students to chain themselves to the exits and swallow the keys.

What does Marisa and her group want? A long list of demands to locally aid the environment. They have brought supplies and medicine, and intend to stay put until the demands are met. The only issue is, a school full of students and teachers intending to have a night of fun, must also stay.

When is activism terrorism? What is going too far, and how far should you go for your beliefs? This is a thought-provoking novel delving into the minds of many of the characters, including Marisa. While it was a gripping scenario, I was often thrown by the implausibility of what was happening. The way the school was built, the severity of injuries, the way people reacted to the situation (particularly parents and police) - these were all factors that pulled me out of the narrative and made me question how any of this could possibly happen. I also wanted a deeper discussion of Marisa grappling with her cause versus the physical safety of her classmates. Honestly, I didn't think she could possibly physically plan for all contingencies - especially not without someone else (like a teacher) noticing.

I am all for activism, but I need a slightly more plausible story, with slightly more plausible consequences.
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I have read all of adi alsaids books to this point and I still enjoyed this one. he writes such great coming of age stories.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Inkyard Press for the ARC. 

I really really wanted to like this book.  A school that participates in an annual lock in but this year, the Lock - in turns into something else.  However, for me it didn't work.  I felt like there were too many point of views going on to the point where I was getting confused and some of the plot was completely unbelievable. 

There were some things that did work for me.  Each of these young characters were given a great voice where they did have some meaningful and impactful things to say.  I just think it was lost in the overwhelming amount of characters and voices.
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The book preview made this book seem like something I would love and could recommend to my students. However, I had really difficult time enjoying this book. First of all, the premise while plausible is not realistic. The way the school is described and the setting could not happen. I had a difficult time relating to the characters, I could not find the depth in them that I wanted a story like this to have. 

While I think this book was written from a point of wanting to push activism, instead it seems like something else. This book is a quick read however, it left me wanting something different.

The publisher generously provided me with a copy of the book upon request on NetGalley. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.
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