Title: 5 to 1
Author: Holly Bodger
Genre & Age Group: Dystopian, science fiction, romance, young adult
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 Contestant Five, 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. Five’s family wants him to escape by failing the tests. As the tests advance, Sudasa and Five thwart each other at every turn until they slowly realize that they just might want the same thing.
Told from alternating points of view—Sudasa’s in verse and Contestant Five’s in prose—allowing readers to experience both characters’ pain and their brave struggle for hope.
Source: Public library
How I Found Out About It: Goodreads
Upon first hearing about 5 to 1, I became very excited to read it. It seemed like a diverse, unique story from a perspective that we don’t often hear from in YA fiction, so I was ready to take a dive in!
I enjoyed 5 to 1, but I wouldn’t say it was love. I loved the premise and the main character, but like many other 3.5 star reads, there were definitely some little things that bothered me about it.
This story follows the dual POVs of teens Sudasa and Kiran (a.k.a. “Contestant Five”). It is 2054, and in India, the ratio of boys to girls is 5 to 1, hence the title. Since the number of girls in India is so numbered, boys now have to take tests in order to find a wife. Sudasa and Contestant Five both have desires other than getting married, but Sudasa’s family would like her to choose a boy that keeps her safe, and for Contestant Five, his family just wants him to find a way out of the mess.
First, I just wanted to point out the unique formatting of this book. It may not work for some readers, so this is why I wanted to give you the heads up now. Sudasa’s POV is written in verse and Contestant Five’s is written in paragraphs, so even though it is a good way to distinguish the POVs, I know that many people are not fans of verse. Just be prepared if you decide to pick this one up!
I would have to say that the protagonist, Sudasa, was the focal point of this book. I found her to be a loyal, determined, bold, and confident character who never let anything get her down. These characters are the type that I always enjoy reading about, and even though Sudasa may simply ‘blend into the crowd’ a year from now, she was still awesome to read about.
As for Kiran/Contestant Five, I just found him to be forgettable. He lacked charm and I simply couldn’t relate to him. He did have many good insights about his world, but honestly, this book would have been just as great, or maybe even better, without his POV in the mix.
All in all, this book seemed pretty promising, but it didn’t turn out to be a favourite. The plot was interesting and so was the strong character of Sudasa, but everything else, including the writing style at times, didn’t really fit the bill. I think that those who enjoy diverse stories written in verse (hey, that rhymes!) with a strong protagonist will get the most out of 5 to 1.