“5 to 1” by Holly Bodger
3 1/2 out of 5 stars.
“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.”
I read “5 to 1” about a month ago, and I really liked it. It was odd at first trying to get used to the perspectives in this book since one was written in verse and the other prose, but once I got used to switching back and forth between the two styles, I really started to get into Holly Bodger’s story.
Both characters felt like they were on the younger side of young adult fiction, yet that didn’t stop me from appreciating this story. It was a coming of age story after all, so the characters were intentionally written to be young adults growing into themselves and their futures. Another aspect I liked about “5 to 1” was that Kiran and Sudasa weren’t just two rebellious teens being ridiculously immature and demanding that they should be allowed to make their own choices and treated like adults while they were acting like petulant children. Instead, both Sudasa and Kiran were good, responsible teens who had come to a point in their lives where they had to make a choice, and they understood that their futures hung on that one monumental decision. I enjoyed the fact that these to characters weren’t moody teens being rebellious for no justifiable reason, and I also liked that they were mature and calculated in their choices instead of brash and not thinking about the consequences of their actions.
Besides liking how Sudasa and Kiran eventually made their own choices, I really liked that Holly Bodger made me think about how the world in “5 to 1” was a reflection of our world. There were moments that subtly emphasized that bitterness and prejudice lead to a very unequal society, whether it be women being bitter/prejudice towards men and men towards women, and one race against another. This is another one of the books in YA book culture that they are listing as being feministic fiction, and to tell you the truth, I approve of this book. “5 to 1” showed both the good and bad of women taking full control of a society, forcing men to the lower rungs of the social ladder, and this book also pointed out the faults in a predominately male run society. Both are dysfunctional and will continue to be so while males and females are continuously trying to rip the other down to make themselves higher than the opposite sex; “equality” approached in that way will never be found because those are not the actions of people looking for a level playing ground, but individuals looking for revenge. I really respect Holly Bodger for pointing out the flaws on both sides in such a good and simple way.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading “5 to 1,” and I thought that it was a beautifully written book that showed what bitterness can do to people, how broken worlds and societies suffocate their people in the name of justice, and how choices made by individuals every day draws the line between making the world a better place to live in or letting it spin around in the same, hopeless cycle. I also really liked that it was set in India because there are not a lot of YA books that take place there, and that made this book feel like a unique and fresh setting to read. I would definitely recommend “5 to 1” to anyone who is looking for a quick, interesting read.