5 TO 1 by Holly Bodger5 to 1 by Holly Bodger
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on May 12th 2015
Pages: 224
Genres: Young Adult, Girls & Women, Family, General, People & Places, Asia
Hardcover provided by The Library

Part Homeless Bird and part Matched, this is a dark look at the near future told through the alternating perspectives of two teens who dare to challenge the system.

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, though, 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. 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.

Reading time 4 mins

This was a delightful, albeit quick, read. 5 to 1 was a dystopian tale about a place so unbalanced there are five boys for every one girl. Told in a really unique voice and writing style I devoured this book.

It is the year 2054 we are a generation past a time when women suffered from infanticide. We are in a future society called Koyanagar, surrounded by a wall. The wall is there to keep everyone else out and to hold the citizens in. Sudasa is about to pick her husband. At the age of 15 all girls get to pick their husband. Boys are picked randomly between ages 15 and 18. As a female in Koyanagar, Sudasa is a treasure. She has the right to pick the best man to be her husband. We go right along with her to be prepared to watch the testing. Five boys will have three days of challenges to win her. As granddaughter to one of the founders, she has to pick the right boy to wed. Sudasa doesn’t really want a husband, she doesn’t want to be a prize to be won.

The director introduces my cast of contestants
By n#mber:
One, Two, Three, Four, Five.
I’m not introduced.
Am the blue ribbon they need to win.
The prize of life for one, lucky boy.

Kiran’s day has finally come to be tested. He stands no chance to win the challenges since he was born poor. Although the tests are suppose to be anonymous and fair, everyone knows they are rigged. His fate is already sealed. He doesn’t want to win. He already has other plans.

I am a dog. A patient dog. I’ll do what they say. Play the game I’m suppose to play. I don’t have much choice. I need to make it to the end of the third day -to the final test- and any boy who refuses to participate is immediately sent to the wall.

What these two don’t realize is that their end goals are similar.

The world this author has created is completely plausible. Well, except for the terrible treatment of men, that is. In this place women aren’t sold for the highest dowry. After decades of gender unbalance, women want another way. They created a society where women rule and on New Years Eve 12 years ago, they closed the gates to the city for good. Women created this place and they want their daughters to breed with only the smartest and the fittest men. The society is pretty sad for any boy who doesn’t get a wife. For him, the only job left is as a guard to the wall around the city.

I literally read this in one sitting. Really, it was such a quick read. It was really good, though. The characters are developed enough to get attached to. For me, this book was just long enough to get me really attached to the concept and the characters. We get supporting characters that are well thought out, some only have a few lines, but they are memorable. Believe it or not, this book features zero romance. What? No, really. Alternating POVs give us crude world building. The views of the characters on the society is all we are given. The characters are only 15 and 17, so their views are pretty immature. Sudasa is very sheltered, so her view of the world is pretty much that is not fair. Kuran has seen more of the world, but for him it really isn’t fair.

I really enjoyed this book. I love dystopian books and this story was very original. For such a short story, this book managed to touch on the many things I love about dystopian books. It had an unpredictable style. I really fell in love with the writing style. Sudasa’s part was written almost in prose. Kuran’s part was short, but gave a good picture of what he was going through. The gender shift in this story was original and asks some interesting questions about gender politics.

This story is set in a culture that may be hard for some to understand. Throw in the idea of feminist power and it is sure to be misunderstood, or just disliked, by some readers. My biggest complaint, and it is sort of a big deal for me, is that it is way too short. I really wanted more. I wanted more world-building. I wanted more of the what happened next. Also, the ending. Gah! It just felt so incomplete. Honestly, this would have been a 5 star book for me if their had been just more.

My Rating


About Holly Bodger

Holly Bodger has a BA in English literature and has spent her entire career in publishing. She is an active member of Romance Writers of America and is a 2013 Golden Heart finalist in the Young Adult category. She lives in Ottawa, Canada.

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