Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 12th 2015
Genre: Sci-Fi > Dystopia, YA
Rating: 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.
Since I absolutely LOVED this book..I am just going to talk about why (and point out a few flaws to stay objective):
DIVERSITY. 5 to 1 is set in India and for me (an Indian girl who is obsessed with YA fiction but doesn’t see that many books featuring Indian MCs) that is very exciting. (And I know there are other books with Indian MCs.) Anyway, I was impressed by how spot on the dialogue and descriptions of the character’s life. Even though it’s a dystopian book, there were similarities (terms of endearment for example) between what I know/experience in India and what was described. However, I did pick up on the fact that even though 5 to 1 features a different culture, some of the foreign terms go unexplained (which of course won’t be an issue if you know the language). I think this was a minor issue but I did notice other bloggers mention it in their reviews and I thought it would be a good idea to point out.
And oh you guys, it’s been so long since I read a sci-fi book that is actually original. Many of the dystopian books I’ve read are painfully cliche and too similar to their peers. That is one of the reasons why I’ve been reading more contemporary or fantasy than sci-fi. But this book restored my faith in this genre. It is not only unique but it also features diverse characters living in a society that is barely discussed in YA. To top it all off, the author’s writing style changes as she alternates between the view points of the two main characters. Sudasa’s verse is kind-of intimate and familiar while Kiran’s prose is blunt and clipped but just as heartfelt. But most importantly, both characters allow us to experience their emotions, their struggle, their life.
Lastly this book tackles a lot of issues and topics while conveying the very feminist message to fight for your ideals no matter what. I couldn’t help empathizing with Sudasa’s struggle to live the way she wants to despite what society – particularly her grandmother – expects of her. Kiran, on the other hand, was harder to connect to. To some extent I sympathized with his desperation and the fact that he didn’t want to become Sudasa’s husband but his character wasn’t developed as well as Sudasa. While I became intimately familiar with Sudasa’s relationship with the various people in her life, I didn’t get to experience that as much with Kiran…and that is probably why I couldn’t connect with his character.
To be fair, this book is quite short and doesn’t have a very complicated plot. I enjoyed the break from reading novels withs tons of action and intricate plots but if you’re looking for a book like that, 5 to 1 isn’t for you. But if you want to read a diverse dystopian with captivating characters and a feminist message – then all I can say is….