Review: 5 to 1 by Holly Bodger

5 to 1 by Holly Bodger

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Received: NetGalley
Publication Date: May 12th 2015
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Point of View: 1st Person & Alternative
Recommended Age: 13+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Dystopia, Feminism, Freedom, Competition


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.


This book is as beautiful interiorly as it is exteriorly.

But I didn’t expect it to affect me this much.

When I was about to turn fifteen, I got up extra early so I could finish my chores and then listen to every minute of the tests. But after a few months, they all sounded the same. Different girl, different boys, but the rest: same same same. And still, the people here today have swarmed like flies to a rotting corpse. Someone should tell them they’re a bit early. The corpses come after the tests.

However, it did. I’ve always been the kind of person to fight for what she wants and ignore everyone who ever told me to give up, that it’s not worth it, that it would be too difficult for me, that I would tire of it, that that’s not who I am, and so on. I guess I might be a little bit strong-headed but, if I weren’t, I don’t know where I would be, today, and what kind of person I would have become. Submission, it is not for me. Not when it feels wrong.

And it isn’t for Sudasa either. She doesn’t know exactly what would be best for her, having been told all her life that marrying and bearing a child girl is her duty as woman in Koyanagar, but she sure as hell knows that marrying her cousin won’t bring her happiness and the life she deserves. Her Tests, she despises them. She doesn’t want them, doesn’t want to be served and to spend her life fulfilling a ‘role’ the government assigned her.

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.

I’m conscious of the fact that the writing style for Sudasa’s chapters might not please every reader. The quote shared above represents exactly the kind of writing you will stumble upon when being in the girl’s mind. And it works so well. I didn’t think it would, after remembering the catastrophe that was We Were Liars, in my opinion, but, in this case, it offers a rawness and lyrical style that weave a human being with countless qualities trying to figure out who she is and wants to become. She’s true to herself and believes in fairness. I loved that about her.

I do think that the world-building isn’t worth as much as it could have been, but, no fear, you will not be confused. The author explains the ‘Tests’ and how they were created in the first place in a clear, however, occasionally, in an non detailed, way. It does necessitate a bit of imagination and belief from your side, because some events aren’t convincing enough, but I didn’t mind it.

It is very hard for an author to write a dystopian book that makes sense throughout, for this genre requires to be written in explicit detail and being linked in some sort of way to our world of today, to be credible. But, even with all its flaws, 5 to 1 manages to be convincing enough, really. I could easily imagine women being oppressed by men rebelling and wanting complete control over their lives. But I, for sure, couldn’t agree with controlling other people’s lives.

We’re allowed jobs…
Jobs the boys aren’t trusted to do.
Teaching other girls?

They’d never give me
a position like that.
They’d be worried I’d be like Papa:
Full of opinions.
Not like Mummy:

Full of fears of speaking them.

A must read of 2015.


14 thoughts on “Review: 5 to 1 by Holly Bodger

  1. Not only the cover is incredibly gorgeous (publishers are doing a good job nowadays) but also it sounds freaking fantastic and even though I’m growing more tired and tired of dystopian, I think I could try and read this just to see if it turns out to be as promising as you made it sound. Great review!! ^^


  2. YES to your review! I’m so excited to read this one soon, I actually have a copy of it and I cannot wait to get started soon 🙂 I love the premise of this novel, it’s actually a very realistic issue. Wonderful review as always Lola<3


  3. GAH!!! I am so excited for this book, and it is up next for me! I am SO glad you loved it so much, I have been anticipating it for so long. I am really glad it had such an impact on you too 🙂 Great review!


  4. I hadn’t heard of this book before until now. I am definitely going to be adding it onto my TBR. I love reading about culture and this plot line seems like an intriguing one as well.


  5. This book sounds like it’s really powerful and raw, that left a really big impact on you Lola. I really love the sound of it and it’s one of the books I’m really looking forward to! I love the fact that it conveys an inner strength of the character, too. Great review!


  6. Pingback: Hype Hype Hooray + Q&A: 5 to 1 by Holly Bodger - Wildfire Books

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s