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Sunday, August 2, 2015

[REVIEW] 5 to 1 by Holly Bodger

5 to 1

Author: Holly Bodger
Genre: YA Dystopia
Published: May 12th 2015 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Purchase from: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
In the year 2054, after decades of gender selection, India now has a ratio of five boys for every girl, making women an incredibly valuable commodity. Tired of marrying off their daughters to the highest bidder and determined to finally make marriage fair, the women who form the country of Koyanagar have instituted a series of tests so that every boy has the chance to win a wife.

Sudasa doesn’t want to be a wife, and Kiran, a boy forced to compete in the test to become her husband, has other plans as well. Sudasa’s family wants nothing more than for their daughter to do the right thing and pick a husband who will keep her comfortable—and caged. Kiran’s family wants him to escape by failing the tests. As the tests advance, Sudasa and Kiran thwart each other at every turn until they slowly realize that they just might want the same thing.

This beautiful, unique novel is told from alternating points of view—Sudasa’s in verse and Kiran’s in prose—allowing readers to experience both characters’ pain and their brave struggle for hope.


My thoughts

I've never read a novel in verse before so 5 to 1 is a breath of fresh air for me. The half-prose, half-poetry style was definitely unique and the writing is also beautiful. Some lines made my heart ache. I also liked that some words and lines were given emphasis by giving them a different formatting. It made it more interesting. Also, this is a fairly short novel so if you're looking for a quick read, you might want to try this one.

Hello, diversity! This is a dystopian novel set in India, with characters that are trying to break out of social constrictions. Both female and male protagonists are in the minority – Sudasa being in the gender with lesser population and Kiran in the gender that is looked down upon.

I liked the alternating POVs wherein the struggles and developments of both main characters are shown. Both Sudasa and Kiran are trying to defy what their society dictates, although they have different reasons for rebelling. They also have totally different manners of showing their defiance. Sudasa is more subtle although there are times when it shows, while Kiran is the more obvious one. There's little character development, though.

And there's no romance! Although the story revolves around the tests that will arrange Sudasa's marriage to one of the boys, there's absolutely no romance between her and Kiran or any of the contestants for that matter. I really liked that. For once, this is a story that doesn't focus on falling in love amidst rebellion, but rather, 5 to 1 explored what it's like to be trapped within your family and society and wanting to get away from it. 

While the story is very promising, the plot just felt basic. There's not much conflict aside from the obvious and there are some predictable parts. I was also mildly disappointed with the world-building. I get that Koyanagar is built in India, but I would have liked a more detailed description of the world they live in. And what is that ending? That's . . . I don't know how to feel about that. Is that supposed to be a cliffhanger or a hint that there will be a sequel? Although frankly, I wouldn't mind if there will be one because hello? I wanna know what the hell happened to Kiran! And Sudasa! ASDFGHJKL!! 

I wouldn't say I was blown away, but I liked and enjoyed 5 to 1. Holly Bodger delivered a dystopian novel that is different from its predecessors. The social issues are handled well without being too preachy or pretentious. It's written beautifully and creatively. Oh, and it's strong on feminism, so there's that. :)

Favorite lines

You can only give away that which is yours to lose.


...happiness is like fruit on the vine; yours if you choose.


Obedience is fickle that way. It's a virtue to its master but a vice to its slaves.


He said you can never tie down a person's soul. If he wants to leave, he will, whether he takes his body with him or not.


There are no bad people. Only bad choices.


There's no point in being fair to others if you've forgotten to be fair to yourself.


A man is measured not by the answers he finds but the questions he asks. Find an answer and you stand still. Stop asking questions and you die.


No, we cannot change the mistakes we've left behind. But there's one thing we can do -- one thing I must do -- we can choose not to repeat them.

author image

Julie @ Books and Insomnia

Julie is a Filipina blogger who pretends she has insomnia so she can stay up late reading. When she's not buried in books, she can be found watching anime, drinking chocolate-flavored instant coffee, lurking on the internet, daydreaming and talking about herself in third person. She loves purple and anything sweet!

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