Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

5 to 1 #1

5 to 1

Rate this book
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.

244 pages, Hardcover

First published May 12, 2015

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Holly Bodger

2 books161 followers
A long-time resident of Ottawa, Canada, Holly has been working in publishing since she graduated with an English degree from the University of Ottawa. Her debut novel, 5 TO 1, was released by Knopf Books for Young Readers on May 12, 2015.

For 5 TO 1 extras including her free novella (The Other One) as well as an Educator's Guides, glossary, coloring pages, glossary, and interviews, see Holly's Website at www.hollybodger.com

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
530 (20%)
4 stars
931 (35%)
3 stars
860 (32%)
2 stars
234 (8%)
1 star
60 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 669 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,993 reviews298k followers
April 2, 2015
Seriously, this book. I don't even know how to begin trying to describe how I feel about 5 to 1. Let's look at all the great points. It's a super quick read that I powered through in one sitting. It has so much girl power but ultimately imparts the message that everyone is a human being deserving of respect, regardless of gender or anything else. There is absolutely ZERO romance. That's right... none. I really liked both Sudasa and Kiran. It's full of very important issues relevant to both India and the rest of the world...

And yet, the world-building is sketchy, the society poorly-conceived and the ending so... meh.

I think, given the importance of the issues lying beneath this fictional story, the lens was too narrow. The entire book spans a few days and barely steps outside the world of the "Tests". No wonderful glimpses into a culture so rarely seen in YA, no rich world-building. So many missed opportunities.

The plot begins in the year 2054. After gender selection and female infanticide (a very real problem in India) caused a gender imbalance of 5 to 1 and girls became the target of rapists, the women of Koyanagar decided they could build a better society on their own. They erected a wall around their city and established a matriarchal society in which boys must compete in the Tests for a wife. Men are also deemed unfit for law, politics and medicine; they're only purpose in life is to father daughters.

"Boys are taught only useful things. Things that will help them serve the women in Koyanagar."

What the author basically does is reverse gender roles and circumstances - something which had the potential to be fascinating and powerful. However, while the drama of the Tests is compelling, a closer look reveals that this book is built on a very loose premise that only manages to hold up the novel because we are shown such a small amount of this world.

For one thing, how were these women simply able to seize a city and name themselves the leaders? That's like me just deciding one day that I want to build a wall around my home town, declare myself president, and everyone just being all "well, this sucks, but better do as she says". Sadly, that will never happen. Also, we are told that boys are no longer trusted but never told why. I understand how great an idea it is to reverse the gender roles in India and make girls more desired and the boys disposable, but without the whys and hows, it's just an interesting concept that never evolves into a believable story.

It seems like I've been very negative but I did enjoy this book. It was told from two POVs - Sudasa in free verse and Kiran in prose - and I really liked both characters. They were strong, pleasingly rebellious, and I sympathized with both their situations. Oddly, I actually wouldn't have minded a romance between the two of them. Bloody typical. But the lack of romance was a pleasant change. I feel like many authors build up the characterization of their male and female MCs through their romance with each other, whereas Sudasa and Kiran were interesting in their own right.

The ending kind of drifts off and I thought it seemed like a bit of a cop-out, but part of me wonders if the author has deliberately left it open for a potential second book. The many problems aside, if that is the case, then I'd like to read it.

Before reading:

Reasons this could be really amazing:

- It is a dystopia set in a future India
- The gender imbalance is a very real issue
- It could provide interesting social commentary
- It is told in two POVs, one in verse and the other in prose

I am trying not to get too excited that an original YA dystopian concept might exist, but...

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr
510 reviews2,412 followers
March 26, 2015

Why you should read 5 to 1
- It's a unique dystopian that touches up on feminism.
- Both the parts written in verse and in prose were absolutely gorgeous.
- You're going to love Sudasa and how she begins to realize what she wants for herself, and not what her family or what the government want for her.
- Kiran also strongly believes in what he thinks will be good for him, and I really adored that about him.

I only had two minor gripes:
- We weren't immersed in Kiran's family too much.
- Some terms were a bit confusing since I know nothing about Indian terms of endearment.

Holly Bodger, I'll be sitting here and waiting for a sequel.

You can find my full chat review with the fabulous Faye right here.

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Dear Faye.
492 reviews2,124 followers
March 27, 2015
Today, Aimee and I will be reviewing this gem of a book together. To say we loved this is an understatement... we absolutely adored it to the moon and back. It's amazing to finally find a dystopia that's refreshing and original and new, springing from a society we haven't read much of. Without further ado, here are our thoughts regarding this beautiful narrative.

Faye : So, Aimee, when was the last time you read an original and ACTUALLY good dystopia? Have you ever come to that point?!

Aimee : *Checks Goodreads* I've read a handful of dystopian novels in my four years of reading, but I've never read about anything quite like this. Nothing that touched up on feminism this deeply. How about you?

Faye : I agree. It tackles so many topics all at once: gender imbalance, equality, and freedom, while also somehow touching on some issues women in India face. I mean, just the fact that it sets place in India is already so awesome.

Aimee : Agreed. Although that brings me to a minor (and the only) problem I had with the book: some of the terms were confusing, like the things the main characters called their family members, since the author didn't explain who each term referred to.

Faye : Oh yes, that's one thing. Since it's a story set in a completely different culture and country, it would have been nice if we were properly introduced to some of the foreign terms, but, overall, I didn't mind it too much. The way it was written just moved me. This is my first free verse book (well, half free verse book) and it was written so good. There was purpose in every line, in every word, and every few pages, a verse would strike a cord within me. It was beautifully written.

Aimee : I couldn't agree more! This is my first book written in verse, too, and honestly I wasn't expecting to be even midly interested in it, but I ended up adoring the beautiful writing.  Whose POV were you more interested in, if any?

Faye :  I loved the female MC's more. Even though she didn't really go into much detail because she was talking in free verse, I loved how every verse was well-written, well-timed, and well-placed, as if each line meant something. The male MC was interesting, too, to see his side of things, but I just loved the intimacy of the female's. What about you?

Aimee : I think I was more drawn to Sudasa's as well. Probably because we're more immersed into her family, and I loved how she was realizing all these things and beginning to believe in things for herself and not just because of what other people tell her.

Faye : Does it bother you that there's not much character development?At least, a kind of character development that was shown more personally.

Aimee : Personally, I felt like that was only the case for Kiran and not so much with Sudasa. I felt like we weren't given enough time to get to know his way of living since he only narrated how he was during the Tests, and not too much of how he lived with his family before.

Faye : Fair point. The story to me was more about Sudasa's story and how meeting Kiran and seeing his defiance became her catalyst to look for a way outside this system.  All in all, how would you rate this, Aimee?

Aimee : I gave the book 4.5 stars , even upped it on Goodreads. ;) And you?

Faye : I give it 4 stars, definitely. I had thought dystopia was stagnant, but it only goes to show that if we think outside the box and go towards diversity, there are all kinds of situations we can write about. PLUS, intertwining it with another culture makes for a really interesting read!

Aimee : Totally! There are all sorts of cultures, issues and situations that can be turned into gorgeous stories, and Holly Bodger definitely succeeded in bringing a refreshing new YA dystopian. And I was surprised that I loved it despite the fact that there wasn't any romance. ;)

Faye : Exactly! It's all about the societal issues that were handled extremely well. I can't wait to read more from Holly Bodger!
Profile Image for Lucia.
735 reviews817 followers
September 3, 2015
Couple of months ago I read a blurb for what appeared to be very unique YA dystopian novel. Synopsis for 5 to 1 completely enticed me at that point and I have been impatiently waiting to get my hands on it ever since. I am happy to say that once I actually got to read this novel, I have not been disappointed.

Confession time. I have never been a fan of poetry. But Sudasa's POV in verse impressed me big time. It wasn't abstract or philosophical as poems usually are. It had real plot. And whole "written in verse" thing gave this book a magical (almost ethereal) feel. I absolutely loved the uniqueness of it.

Same as in other dystopian novels, couple of important topics such as corruption, fairness or politics are discussed throughout 5 to 1. But while other dystopian novels evoke fantasy or sci-fi vibes, 5 to 1 felt very realistic. No surprise there since 5 to 1 deals with topic that already is a real problem in India (gender and power imbalance) and this story takes place only 40 years from now. So even though this is fiction intended for your leisure, 5 to 1 also makes you think about stuff that hits close to home and brings some seriousness into your reading.

A little warning for all romance junkies. This is not a love story. If you expected one or if you require a lot of romance in your books, you will be disappointed. 5 to 1 tells a tale of two people fighting for a chance to live a happy life and fighting for a possibility to choose their own destiny. The topic itself was very powerful and in this case I was glad that author didn't complicate it with unnecessary drama that usually accompanies romance in YA novels.

Holy Bodger is definitely an author to look out for. She proved her admirable creativity and writing skills in this debut novel and I cannot wait to read some more from her!

*ARC provided by publisher as an exchange for honest review*

MORE REVIEWS ON MY BLOG Reading Is My Breathing
Profile Image for Hailey (Hailey in Bookland).
614 reviews87.8k followers
February 14, 2017
Video review to come closer to the release date, but for now...

When you're reading this book, you need to forget about every other book you've ever read. You need have no expectations of how a book should be because this is not a typical book, at all. This book is more so a myth, I suppose. Even though it does take place in the future, it read as if it were a legend that had been passed down for some time, if that makes sense. This is going to be one of those books that people either love it, or they hate it and I think what will lead a lot of people to hate it is the form not being that of a typical novel. So if you just set aside any expectations you may have and just read, you will probably really enjoy this.

This book is told in 2 perspectives: Kiran's (contestant 5) portion is written in prose while Sudasa's portion is written in verse. I loved this aspect of it. The writing of both sections was beautiful, especially the verse. The verse was so interesting because the words actually do what they say (very hard to explain). For example, if the word was larger, the font size would actually be larger for that word. It's very hard to describe but it was so awesome. It added so much to the book and it made reading it be just really an experience. Language played such a vital role in this book and adding the poetic aspect to it really helped drive that point home and make the book very interesting.

While this story is very character driven, it is not driven by 'character sketches' but by the actions of the characters. The main characters are not necessarily very introspective, but this isn't a bad thing. Both of the characters face a similar dilemma, and that is how to deal with the situation the corrupt government has put them in. Their similar struggle connects them as they both try and make the right choices in a world that makes doing so impossible. Their struggles really drive the novel. You're not given many physical descriptions but you are able to see how they deal with this conflict of interests and I think that made the characters more relatable.

The plot of this book wasn't what I was expecting at all but, that being said, none of the book was what I had been expecting. The plot worked at a steady pace that worked really well with the overall tone of the novel. In the most basic sense, the plot follows the 3 days of tests that the contestants are going through to try and win Sudasa's hand in marriage. The story is set in India but it is not a huge part of the story. You're not given much description, it's more so a story that focuses on the telling rather than showing but that wasn't a bad thing since the story read like an oral story that had been passed down through generations. The mythic aspect of it made the focus on the telling work perfectly.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It is definitely the most unique dystopian I've ever read and one of the most unique books I've read in my life. I would recommend it to fans of dystopian, or really anything! It's just a great read.
Profile Image for Alice.
229 reviews42 followers
February 11, 2018
4.25* Sudasa's pov is written in verse. Contestant Five's pov is written normally.

So in this country the women are in power. The country of Koyanagar is surrounded by a guarded wall so that no one can leave. Girls get everything and the men are slaves. The main character Sudasa is forced into a competition where 5 boys compete for her marriage. This system was built against the men that used to be in power, but it didn't fix society, it just took freedom away from everybody.

Five's side of the story explains a lot about the system of Koyanagar. Sudasa's side shows the competition from her eyes. Both sides show their struggle for freedom.

Five hates the system. He just wants to leave Koyanagar and find his mother who left before the walls closed. I thought he was headstrong and didn't take shit from the system or a certain prissy asshole in the competition. Sudasa's side was fun to read because it was written in verse and I loved her journey to fight against the path that was forced upon her.

I love Five and yes his name is revealed later on. He just gave so many fuck you's it was great. Sudasa really grew on me as she became more and more confident as the story went on.
Profile Image for beautyliterate.
331 reviews1,371 followers
February 7, 2017
3.5/5 stars

Book 1 for the #Diverseathon completed!

This was different from anything I've ever read. There were things I wasn't expecting, like for example the writing style. This story flew by. I did feel like this story ran on the characters action's a lot so I wished there was a little more too the book like maybe more world development. Overall, I'm happy I picked this up and would recommend if you enjoy Dystopian novels because yet again one of the most unique books I've ever read.
Profile Image for Myrna.
716 reviews
February 17, 2019
With a stunning cover, this book is a quick and absorbing read. It is told from two point of views. Sudasa’s story is told in verse while Kiran’s story is told in prose. This very plausible YA dystopian concept is set in the future where India has five boys for every girl. This novel will definitely get you thinking about a world in which women rule and each young girl is prize to be won through a series of Tests. At times, this book reminded me of other dystopian novels like the Hunger Games. Despite the ending (won’t spoil it here) its a good and thought provoking read.
Profile Image for Tori (InToriLex).
464 reviews368 followers
March 12, 2016
Find this and other Reviews at In Tori Lex

The diversity and unique premise of this dystopian immediately got me excited to read this book. The contrast of the verse and the prose worked well, and I finished this short book way too fast. In the book girls are held as the most valuable and powerful in a small community that has rejected the rest of the country. It shows how arranged marriage and treating one gender as less has negative consequences, whether it's the girls or the boys. Sudasa and Karin have difficult choices to make and follow through on. The lack of romance between them was realistic and appreciated considering the instalove that is so common in YA novels. 

"Obedience is fickle that way. It's a virtue to it's master but a vice to it's slaves"  

There was great writing in this book. The author was able to use descriptive and memorable prose without it coming off as forced or unnecessary. The issue I did have was the lack of world building. There was enough to give you the gist of the world, but not enough to answer the many questions I thought of while reading. The social issues that this explores worked without coming off as disingenuous and the plot flowed well.  The characters were well developed and their indecision was presented in a suspenseful way. The ending has me anxious for a sequel and I'm looking forward to reading more about these characters and this world. I would recommend this to fans of young adult stories, who enjoy lyrical prose and diverse memorable characters. 

"He said you can never tie down a person's soul. If he wants to leave he will, whether he takes his body with him or not."

**The author has a free novela from Surina's point of view HERE.**
Reviews in Series
The Other One (5 to 1 #1.5) by Holly Bodger
Profile Image for Joanna .
458 reviews83 followers
April 18, 2017
Its been 3 days since I finished this book and since then I have been trying to gather my thoughts as to why I disliked it so much. I should have loved it cause the premise of this book is what drew me in however the way it was delivered coupled with the lack of plot development and world building really killed it for me.

The story is told from two perspectives: Sudasa, our main female lead and Contestant 5, our main male lead and whose true name we don't learn until the end of the book. Sudasa's sections are all written in verse and Contestant 5's in regular prose. In my opinion, I think that verse writing works best in a world that is well understood or is not overly complicated. I felt that when things were written in verse, you as the reader only got impressions of the main character's situation, space, and emotional feelings. When information is presented this way its open to interpretation because it is rife with metaphor and simile.

This world takes place in a Indian dystopia where woman, who were tired of having their female children murdered in favour of male offspring, decided to build a wall that separated them from the rest of India that favoured a patriarchal hierarchy. Once this wall was erected these women formed a new matriarchal government and social hierarchy which promoted female births over male births now that the population ratio was 5 males to every 1 female because of the gender culling. All of this was expressed on the dust jacket of the book. Without that dust jacket, the early chapters told from Sudasa's point of view in verse would not have been sufficient enough for you to come to understand the background history of this world. The only type of world building is done in Contestant 5's passages and they were short and appeared later on in the book which is too long for a world with such a complicated backstory.

By the time that we meet Sudasa and Contestant 5, more than a decade has gone by since the wall has been erected. Maybe more. The amount of time is hard to discern because not many dates are expressed in the actually story. On the dust jacket it tells you that the year is 2054 and that is just unacceptable. Its ridiculous that a reader has to learn the 5W's from the dust jacket of the book. If you were to ever lose it, you'd be screwed. Anyhow at this point in the society, males are consider second class citizens and female births are now preferred. In the sections dedicated to Contestant 5, he talks most about how it feels to be a second class citizen on this side of the wall. He talks about how his gender doesn't allow him to strive to be anything more than a good husband. He can't hold any positions in government, teach in a school or have any academic profession. His main goal in life should be to marry a female but he has his own agenda to fill. He wants to get to the other side of the wall because he wishes to find his mother and the only way he can do that is by failing the Tests that all males have to go through if they wish to marry a female. If you fail your tests then you are sent to the wall to guard it from old India. Many die protecting the wall but it also presents a select few the opportunity to try and escape even though very few make it.

Although Contestant 5's sections give us a little more knowledge about the world, it is still hidden in and among his introspective musings and memories about his father and life outside of the trials. Along side whatever we can glean and interpret from Sudasa's passages, we are able to piece together some sense of the way the trials work, how they are judged and who are the key players in the matriarchal government .

I have to say that Contestant 5 was clever and the only smart one in the book. I really wish the whole book was about his life in this society before the trials and then during the trials. I could have done without Sudasa and her sections in verse. Her verse sections were all about her family and in particular her great aunt (I believe) who was pushing her to choose her own cousin to marry. Surprisingly that said cousin, even though he was a little more than a glorified slave, was always whispering different ways he was going to rape Sudasa once she finally picked him as her husband.

I could go on and on about this book but overall I think that this story suffered from not enough character depth and world building. This topic was just too complex to try and understand in something less than 300 pages. Really this needed to be a duology or a trilogy and each book should have been no less than 400 pages. It could still retains the idea of multiple perspectives but it needed to be conveyed as a novel and NOT in verse. Really I felt bad rating it this low because the premise was so unique and had such great potential but it was horribly executed and it just broke my heart.
Profile Image for nick (the infinite limits of love).
2,120 reviews1,365 followers
May 14, 2015

5 to 1 was one of those books I wanted to read at first because of the stunning cover, but when I read the summary and found out that it was going to be set in India, I felt a powerful need for this book. When I requested this title, I was unaware that half of the book was written in verse. I have never read a verse book in my life before. Admittedly, I was a little nervous going into 5 to 1, but wow! This book was sensational and has solidified my desire to check out more verse books.

The book is told in the point of view of Sudasa, a young woman who has to choose her husband based on who wins a series of tests. Her POV was written in verse. While it took me some time to get into it, once I was accustomed to it, I was completely immersed in her voice. We really get to know her state of mind through the verse and I honestly can't imagine loving her character as much as I did if it hadn't been written in this form. Her every feeling and emotion felt so concrete to me. The author did a beautiful job with capturing her voice through Sudasa's powerful and captivating emotions. 5 to 1 was very much a strongly character driven book, in that this is a story about the characters and their gradual growth. Sudasa underwent so much of growth throughout the book. This is the story of her gaining emotional strength and I thought it was all done exquisitely. The other POV in the book belongs to Kiran, a competitor in Sudasa's test, who longs to escape the city and to go find his mother. Holly Bodger also did a phenomenal job at portraying an authentic male voice. Kiran was a brilliant character who I also sympathized and felt for. There were also a slew of interesting secondary characters that I found very compelling, particularly Sudasa's grandmother and her parents. Her parents, especially, were breaths of fresh air with how supportive they were of Sudasa and how much they wanted nothing but happiness for her.

The diversity in 5 to 1 was excellent. Holly Bodger captured the Indian lifestyle so gorgeously, I was in awe of it. From the culture to the daily traditions, she was able to illustrate it all very beautifully. 5 to 1 is a dystopia novel and while you may think you've seen everything in dystopia, trust me when I say that you still have to explore this book. I thought the world that Holly Bodger has created was absolutely intriguing. It's a luscious world, set in walled city in India, ruled by women for the women and where men are second class citizens. The feminist in me was certainly intrigued by this. I enjoyed the exploration of the dynamics of this world. 5 to 1 was a short book and while the world building in itself wasn't complex, I thought it was just detailed enough to satisfy me and I'm sure many readers will feel the same way. The summary makes it seem like 5 to 1 has a romance, but I really would not call it that. There were certainly a flutter of attraction between Sudasa and Kiran, but it never moved into a full-fledged reader. As a romance lover, I initially thought I would be let down, but I really wasn't. I certainly would have loved for the book to be longer and to have had the page length to allow for a gorgeous romance, but that's just me being selfish.

Holly Bodger's 5 to 1 was a short book that was still able to pack a strong emotional punch at only 224 pages. The stunning writing that just oozed beauty, the beautiful characters and the diversity made for a lovely book that will stay with me for a long time.
Profile Image for Tiff.
581 reviews537 followers
May 12, 2015
3-3.5 stars.

Well-edited half-verse, half-prose novel with a lot to say about gender selection, equality, and hard choices. The writing is tight, but I never fell in love with the characters or the concept. A fast read and strong debut.
Profile Image for Jenny.
931 reviews188 followers
September 8, 2016
4.5 stars

The writing in this one is just beautiful, I really loved that. The premise and concept is fascinating as well.
Profile Image for Danielle (Love at First Page).
726 reviews621 followers
July 2, 2015
3-3.5 stars

Holly Bodger has written a lovely debut novel. In fact, the more I think about it, the more my fondness grows.

It's set decades into the future, in an India that sees the ratio between boys and girls as "5 to 1". Tired of marrying their daughters to the highest bidder, a group of women formed the country of Koyanagar, walling off their people from the rest of India. Within their world, women are now in charge, and, through a series of tests, one boy out of every five must win the hand of one of their daughters. The winner, though bound to his wife's will, leads a life of opportunity, whereas the losers become the country's menial workforce.

The book alternates between the perspectives of Sudasa - whose turn it is to choose the winning husband - and "Five" - the fifth boy chosen to compete in the tests to become her husband. Neither, however, want to play the game. Sudasa is not ready to marry - to lose her freedom - when she is only just becoming a woman. She can see that her society is no better than the one before it but only a way for the powerful to control the powerless. Even though women in her country are treated with more reverence, Sudasa has little say in her own life. As for Kiran, he longs to escape this world and make a better path for himself. He doesn't want to become a slave just because of his gender.

The book is a short, quick read - I read it in two hours - but it's also one that lingers. I loved the feminist message at its core: the fight for equality and freedom of choice. It's told with complete passion and conviction. Part of the reason the message is such a strong one is the author's stylistic choice. Sudasa's chapters are written in verse and Kiran's in prose. Normally I'm not much of a poetry person, but I found Sudasa's perspective more than engaging. Her words bled onto the page and into my heart, and it was impossible for me not to ache for her... to ache with her. The same could be said of Kiran. His words are much more clipped but as equally sympathetic. These two characters may start on opposite sides, but in the end they're fighting for the same thing. I would have liked more character development, but their internal journeys are extremely moving. I couldn't wait to see their paths finally line up.

5 to 1 is an insular novel. Despite being a dystopian, there's very little worldbuilding. Instead, it's focused more on what's happening within the characters rather than on the outside. I do wish we had gotten more of the setting and culture. The foundation is there, but it's like smelling a food without tasting it. I wanted to know more about Sudasa and Kiran's world, especially since it's a unique setting for YA. On a side note, I couldn't help but imagine this as an adult romance. Oh the romantic possibilities! There's only a hint of romance here, and probably not even that. An attraction? An intrigue? Possibly, but it's very far from being truly developed, since the characters don't actually interact that much. When they did, though, there was just enough of a spark to have me wondering...

So... sequel, anyone?! It finishes on a hopeful note, but then again I'd like to see where the characters actually end up and to see the romance play out further. Don't let that detour you from reading this book, though. It really is a beautifully told story with an important message at its core. I think 5 to 1 is a book many readers will find special.

***Thanks to the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for my honest review!***

This review can also be found at Love at First Page.
Profile Image for Mandy K.
469 reviews31 followers
June 30, 2020
Full Review
This story is told in two alternating points of view: Five, whose points of view are in prose, and Sudasa, whose points of view are in verse. I've read many of Ellen Hopkins book, which if you are unfamiliar, are written entirely in verse. And even though her works were my experience with books written in verse, I loved them, and when I started the book and saw that it was written half in verse, I was so excited. And it was beautiful, not only was the form that Sudasa's POV was written in poetic, but the writing itself was beautiful and poetic as well. I devoured Holly Bodger's writing. I found myself rereading pages just to savor them and commit them to memory. The writing was really what made this book for me. I don't reread books too often, my TBR is much too large to allow such a thing, but 5 to 1 is a book that I can see myself reread a couple times. Not only is the writing beautiful, but it's such a quick read. I finished 5 to 1 in about 2 hours.

I really loved the world building here, the horrors of how the world was before, the utopia that the founders were (and still are) sure they were creating, the secrets of said utopia that slowly unfold to reveal the harsh truth underneath. And I loved the fact that Holly Bodger included lots of things from Indian culture, although I was that some of the terms and names were explained, since I am not familiar with Indian culture. Except, I can kind of see how that would add authenticity to the voices: do you regularly in your thoughts stop and explain every food, clothing item, dance, ect. from your culture that outsiders wouldn't understand?

You would think, because 5 to 1 was half told in verse, the characterization would suffer. And while Sudasa's POV would have about 1/5 as many words a chapter as Five's, I still connected to both Sudasa and Five. And I felt that the secondary character's felt real. Sudasa's father and the young contestant were two of my favorite characters, and Nani was so frustrating, I just didn't like her, which was the point.

I just loved this book, interesting world build and premise with likeable characters, but what really elevated this book was Holly Bodger's gorgeous writing!
Profile Image for Andreas.
247 reviews108 followers
February 17, 2016

Such an interesting and fast-paced debut novel! 5 to 1 delivers a new take on the same old dystopic future, giving us an India-like country run by women where some boys must endure Tests in order to become suitable husbands for the girls who judge them from their high social places. Told from two different POVs - one in free verse and the other in prose -, Holly Bodger's novel present us with Sudasa and Contestant 5, two rebellious teens with different views and wishes from those of the system and the ways they must work to become free of their duties.

I wish, though, that since the book brings up some pretty interesting social questions (such as feminism, gender inequality and, in ways, a society under a non-democratic regime), it would've taken the time to go deeper and further on their discussions and into its own worldbuilding, which felt kinda rushed and shallow. All in all, a nice read that introduces to dystopic YA some social elements that I feel, and hope, will become much more common among future books.

(Oh, and THANK YOU for not forcing an insta-love sugared romance between the MCs here! I thoroughly appreciate it.)
Profile Image for Norah Una Sumner.
855 reviews453 followers
January 3, 2016
"No, we cannot change
the mistakes we’ve left behind.
But there’s one thing we can do—
one thing I must do—
we can choose not
to repeat them."

This was so unique and interesting.The writing is beautiful and refreshing.The characters are well portrayed,even though I wish we knew more about Five's past.The whole book is mostly plot-driven and I loved that.I had a few problems with the story itself,tho.I don't think that it's explained,and it should be,why the boys aren't trusted or how the hell did these women made a freaking wall and created a completely different society/environment.Also,the ending...I have a feeling that there will be a sequel.If not then I'm not really satisfied with the ending,it wasn't powerful enough.

Profile Image for Hierbaja.
189 reviews154 followers
August 8, 2015
¿Sabéis esa sensación que te acompaña cuando acabas un libro espectacular? Pues eso.

Ya os hablaré largo y tendido de él próximamente. Oh, sí.
Profile Image for Liz.
600 reviews504 followers
June 25, 2015
I wish it was longer. And I wish there was more about what happened after the end, and I wish there was more about the secondary characters and their stories and more about how everything happened. I wish there was more, just more.

What this book does is reverse the gender roles and their treatment. Men in Koyanagar exist to father daughters, they are deemed unfit for politics, law, medicine, teaching and treated as secondary material. Their status is secured through their sisters and wives and daughters. Logically, girls are incredibly valuable in such a society and to balance chances out for every boy the women of Koyanagar have established a series of tests. The price? The girl, obviously.

The book alternates between Sudasa's free verse chapters and Kiran's simple prose ones. Both styles are very fast and easy to read, although Sudasa's verse chapters may not appeal to everyone. However, as an enemy of post-modernistic, overly bizarre poetry I must admit this was actually really good. There was enough dialogue and insight into Sudasa's inner world and struggles, some action. So I'd suggest to give it a try, it is quite refreshing to read. Both Sudasa and Kiran are relatable and nice, not very deep due to the fact that the book is kept short and fixed on the what rather than the how and why. Besides, there is no romance. None. Which is great and singular since both MC's can exist without each other and not be boring or whiny.
The other characters like Sudasa's parents or her grandmother and the other four boys that compete for Sudasa, they are highly interesting, all of them, but unfortunately there is too little of them. They are all mentioned on the side, their backgrounds are mostly left unexplored, as is their history or their struggles. I would have loved to know more. Especially about Sudasa's parents and how everything turns out for her sister and what happened with her grandmother. Everything. So in regard to secondary characters - I liked them all, but there was most definitely not enough. Too many questions are left unanswered, too many issues open, although they are deliberately raised. So why raising the questions if they remain open? That was not good, in my opinion. It left the feeling that the secondary characters are nothing but tools, kinda flat and one-dimensional, something I don't like either.

As already mentioned, it is a fast and undemanding read that, apart from the interesting characters, features a whole load of relevant issues like feminism and respect and how the two genders are treated. But it is too sketchy to be amazing. There is no world-building. None. And those who know me and my reviews probably know that world-building and atmosphere are very important for me. I get it, that most YA books focus rather on the romance, but there is no romance in this book sooooooooooo the author totally had an opportunity to use all the pages for world-building and depth and to deal properly with all raised issues.
Did that happen? No.
What is said is that the women of the city were not satisfied with the way the government worked and said they could do better. By erecting a wall around their city, depriving men of their rights, making their society matriarchal and supervising the lives of the girls as much as before except that they also glorify them.
In a society where men had total control over women, how did it happen that suddenly they act all submissive and let women take everything from them? Without fight, without objections?

It's...It seems highly unlikely. There is no logic behind that. How did the women pull that off? How did they make the soldiers obey to them from one moment to the next? Why don't men try to regain their rights or at least fight for equality? Why did the all-powerful government let that happen? How did the people outside react? Why would they possibly want to get inside? How can people be that blind or uncaring to ignore the fact that girls have as little freedom as before? Where did the ability to judge and think go?
It makes no sense. Although it is nice, nothing but nice, to read about reversed gender roles, it is nowhere close to believable. No. Just no. Furthermore, it is not exactly difficult to pull that off. Take gender roles, turn them around and you'll get such a book. It is rarely done so I appreciate the idea of it, but due to the lack of depth and background and logic it is a far cry from difficult to pull that off.

I enjoyed the book, it was a fast read and one that featured different issues as well as a different culture. However, it did not live up to all its potential. The lack of logic and depth was just something I could not ignore.
All in all, a light, enjoyable read with no credibility.
Profile Image for Lala BooksandLala.
500 reviews64k followers
April 14, 2016
I really loved this. A bit more world building, some more excitement and this would have been a 5. Potential video review to come?
Profile Image for Medini.
381 reviews58 followers
April 12, 2020

“…he told his citizens they must limit their families to one child. He said he would fine anyone who didn’t obey and jail anyone who didn’t pay the fines. His citizens obeyed, but not in the way he expected. The citizens didn’t want any one child. They wanted a child who could help support the family, especially when the elders were too weak to do so themselves. They wanted a child who could carry the family name, inherit the family land. They wanted a child could attend their funeral pyres and release their souls to heaven. They didn’t want a child whose dowry would empty their safes to fill the pockets of another. They wanted a male child.

The people took their money and spent it on illegal ultrasounds. If they didn’t hear the words ‘It’s a boy’, they spent more money on doctors who could quietly make the problem go away. If they couldn’t afford these luxuries, they waited nine months and then took care of things themselves. Some abandoned their baby girls in a park. Others used a towel. And pail. And a grave.”

Sounds eerily familiar? I‘m sure most Indians are aware that the above stuff still happens. To some extent.

When I first heard about this book, its diverse premise immediately intrigued me: a feminist, dystopian, walled-off city set in futuristic India? I’m pretty sure no other book comes this close in terms of originality.

5 to 1 stays pretty close its promise of dystopia, creating a grim world in the form of the city of Koyanagar. This would have been reminiscent of the The HG, if not for the fact that females are now a prized commodity owing to the sex ratio having been reduced to 5 males for every female in India. Here females (especially the ones who bear more female children) are treated like royalty and the males and their families know only poverty, grueling work and at times, death. Unless they have sisters. So the guys are subjected to a series of Tests in order to deserve the hand in marriage of the dwindling girls.

This book has 2 povs: Kiran and Sudasa. Kiran keeps telling us about the hardships he’s had to face ‘coz he’s a boy and all that. We are constantly told how terrible it is for guys in Koyanagar, especially the ones that don’t get chosen to be anyone’s husbands, but I failed to gather any emotions from anyone.

I liked Sudasa’s pov a lot less, maybe because it was written in verse, so I found it difficult to take her hopelessness and angst seriously. At times I found her to be extremely self absorbed, especially the part when she couldn’t understand why Kiran didn’t show an ounce of interest in her when she was such a precious commodity and all that.

“The third boy motions to the pack,
Then says to Five,

‘I don’t stand a chance,
but you- you must not lose
because of me. These Tests
are important.’
Five kind of shrugs
as if to say he
doesn’t agree.
doesn’t care.
doesn’t want me?”

Also, I found it odd that in a world where women are the rulers the children retain their father’s name as their initials? Sounds a little off.

The world building was interesting, but shaky. The story itself was fast paced and never boring.
Apart from Kiran and Bala, I found the other characters to be quite ordinary and cliché. I do wish the book had been longer so that the dystopian setting and the secondary characters could have been explored a lot more. I liked the ending, although it was a little abrupt. I honestly would like to read more about Kiran and Sudasa’s adventures outside of the Tests.
Profile Image for Holly .
1,361 reviews291 followers
October 25, 2015
So fucking amazing that I don't even know how to review it properly. The combination of prose and verse was EXCELLENT. And so were the characters and their voices. Voices that they had been told all their lives to keep quiet, but neither were willing to bow down so they spoke loudly, in actions and in words. So, so, so good! Also, that ending was everything. <3

*eARC kindly provided by Random House Children’s via NetGalley*
*Review can be found on The Fox's Hideaway.

My Review!
5 to 1 was a brilliant, thought-provoking novel that I read in one sitting. It was such a quick read, one that packed an emotional punch in very few pages. The combination of prose and verse was EXCELLENT. I’ve never read a book like that before, other than one, but it was definitely not as well-written as this. The verse, the lyrical, the poetical, was especially impactful for me. It was wonderful.

The verse was in Sudasa’s POV, a girl who has to marry but doesn’t want to. However, it’s expected of her. It’s been expected from birth. Women are a valuable commodity in this society, because they are outnumbered by males. They are a prize, one that boys grow up knowing they need if they want a good place in society. But Sudasa wants more than this. She wants love. She wants a choice. She doesn’t want to be forced to watch boys compete for her hand in marriage. She just wants to be free of this. Sudasa is such a strong character, one that I admired so much. She’s intelligent, outspoken, different. Different from a family who still believes in this tradition. Different from a people who don’t voice their dissent. Sudasa dreams of more for herself, and so does the guy who apparently doesn’t want to marry her even though he’s in the Tests.

The prose was told in Kiran’s POV, which was a nice change of pace from Sudasa’s chapters. It never became hard to switch between the two for me. He’s hiding his true desires even as he competes in Tests that could kill him. He was as easily likable as Sudasa; he’s just a guy who has dreams and plans of his own. I loved how Kiran’s chapters gave us more insight into this society, his life, and what it’s like for a boy living in this world. Boys are taught from birth that they’ll have a chance to compete with one another for a girl. For marriage. For a better station in society. But Kiran despises this system; he despises Sudasa, before he realizes that maybe she’s just like him. That maybe she wants something different too. That maybe she doesn’t want this anymore than he does.

This is not a romance; in fact, there is ZERO romance. And I was okay with that. Because it is so much more about the two characters and their wants, their dreams. It was about two people who had been taught a certain way their whole life but who desired something more. I loved their banter, loved that the Tests became a sort of personal challenge for them with each other. Kiran and Sudasa don’t understand each other, but their preconceived notions are quickly disputed. And through this, they find in each other an ally, a friend. Someone who understands, and someone who wants the same thing.

The ending left their relationship open; it left everything open. But I didn’t mind, because it was amazing. I loved it. I definitely could have used just a *bit* more information when it came to this new society, though we do see how it came to be from the beginning. It’s a sort of post-apocalyptic, utopian world in India. Like nothing I’ve read before. And I’ve never read a book where WOMEN were more valuable than men (which was just excellent for my feminism heart) and I was all YOU GO SUDASA WOO FEMALES ARE ALL-POWERFUL. But in all seriousness, this story-line provokes thought. Not just of what could happen, but of what society is capable of, and of what it means to be human. To be compassionate. To dream. To hope.

5 to 1 was unlike anything I’ve ever read before, and I loved it so freaking much. Everything about it. Brilliant, so brilliant.

Rating: 4.5 Paw Prints!
Profile Image for X.
43 reviews14 followers
May 12, 2015
4.5 stars for beautiful writing, originality, and diversity.

I am really big on diversity in the ya genre, especially when it comes to stories that are not contemporary. So I'll go ahead and make this clear--I loved this book. Not because it was perfect, but because it did something original and it did it well.

5 to 1 tells a story of two people, Sudasa and Kiran, who come from opposite ends of the social spectrum. Sudasa lives a life of luxury because she was born a girl and Kiran lives a life of poverty because he was born a boy. Bodger takes the present day issues of infanticide and foeticide in India and creates a society in which women are no longer unwanted, but revered, and men are treated as less than. She essentially reverses the gender inequality found within India today, creating a dystopian society ruled by a matriarchy instead of a patriarchy. I really liked the idea of women taking matters into their own hands and creating a new society out of frustration for the old.

Because of the shortness of the book, the world building is kept to a minimum. I couldn't help but wish the book was one hundred pages longer so that I could become more immersed in the world. However, the lack of world building didn't take away from much, as the characters do more than make up for it.

I was invested in the immediate struggles of Sudasa and Kiran, as they went against the grain of their little world. Their backgrounds were sprinkled throughout their narration, slowly revealing their complex personalities and willingness to go against their society, to forge their own paths for their lives. Both characters were strong in their own right. I especially appreciated how Sudasa stood up for herself time and time again, despite the pressure to conform and obey. Oh, and there is, thankfully, no romance in this book. There was definitely potential between Sudasa and Kiran, but Bodger wisely left romance out of the picture. Given the subject matter, it was only natural for the characters to focus on literally anything else before romance.

Another thing I appreciated about this book was that Bodger got the Hindi right. That's a big plus.

I highly recommend everyone read 5 to 1, especially if you're looking for something original and diverse within ya. Bodger takes a very serious social and cultural issue found within India and creates a respectful, beautiful story as a result, while not watering down the seriousness of the subject matter. So many dystopian novels leave me confused and uninvested, making me wonder how exactly the society became the way it is. Though the reader doesn't found out the exact mechanics for the establishment of Koyanganar, we know why it came to be. And that's equally, if not more, important.

Crossing my fingers for a sequel!

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for sending me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Daniella (Reading With Daniella).
268 reviews107 followers
August 29, 2019
Click here to see this review and others on my blog Reading With Daniella

3.5 stars

I've had this book sitting on my shelf for over three years, and I finally had the chance to pick it up. I'm glad that I did because it was an enjoyable, not to mention super quick (I read it in a day) read.

The writing style was phenomenal! It's written in two different perspectives, with the boy's POV written in prose and the girl's in verse. I thought that was a really creative and interesting way of writing a dual perspective novel that gave each of the characters very distinct voices. I especially loved the verse because of the use of different size font sizes, bolding and italics, spacing, underlining and other things like that to make the appearance of some words match their meaning. For instance, a word meaning large was written in a larger font size, the word 'right' was far to the right side of the page, and the word 'shadow' had a shadow around it. I don't think I've seen that done in a book since I read Geronimo Stilton! I wish more authors/publishers would include it because it really enhances the entire reading experience!

I enjoyed the plot as well. It's been a very long time since I've read a dystopian, and this unique writing style made it feel really fresh and stand out from the others I've read. However, the story definitely had its flaws. The world building was incredibly weak. The descriptions and explanations of this futuristic world were vague and confusing at times. A little more detail could have created a much clearer picture of the setting, which would have been very beneficial to the story as a whole.
I was also quite disappointed in the ending. It was very abrupt and much too open-ended for my taste.

Other than than the poor world building and unsatisfatory ending, it was an enjoyable novel that I would recommend it if you're looking for something quick and unconventional!
Profile Image for kat (wanderfulbooks).
408 reviews48 followers
February 19, 2018
No, we cannot change the mistakes we've left behind. But there's one thing we can do—one thing I must do — we can choose not to repeat them.

I admit I found the writing style jarring at the beginning. However, as I read on I realized it emphasized how the women are perceived in the story. Every thing about this book was not what I had in mind and I was pleasantly surprised by how I liked it. It's a very nice coming of age story told in a setting that is still relevant in some places. My only gripe? The ending. Feelings aside, I think it was apt with the whole theme of the book. But come on!!! I'm a sucker for neatly tied endings and this was such a cliffhanger! Nevertheless, a good book.
Profile Image for Lyn *GLITTER VIKING*.
345 reviews99 followers
November 15, 2015
YES! ARC In! Going to make this my first priority!!

Edit 4/14/15: 3.5 actual rating. Awesome concept, I just needed a bit more.

However, I do recommend this one - the culture and the story is highly fascinating, and it makes for a good gender study novel.


Edit 11/15/2015 - last book I will read by this author - backing a certain atheist white male author on Twitter.
Profile Image for Pili.
1,171 reviews218 followers
May 8, 2015
This book first captured me when I saw its gorgeous cover, because I absolutely adore the lovely mehendi art. And then when I read its summary, and how it promised a bit of dystopia with a sharp look at gender inequality and mixing prose and verse? I knew I had to get it!

I was beyond lucky to get an eARC thanks to the author and I ordered Indian food and started reading right away! I was extremely captivated by the narrative and I was once again surprised by how easy it is to read verse.

Having dual alternating POVs work if both sound distinctive and separate, so you could tell who are you reading about without having to read the header, and that's accomplished not only by having one in verse and the other in prose, but Sudasa and Kiran both have such distinctive voices! They come from opposite sides, but unknowingly to each other both disagree with the current state of affairs in Koyanagar.

The world building had a very interesting premise and one that works more brilliantly as a way to make you stop and think about the current state of affairs, and even more when we're presented with a society completely different, based on a big change and taking power and reversing it. And how power can affect and change the best intentions we might have... Absolute power corrups absolutely, and how sometimes reasons are not as good as we thought they were, when we bend them to serve other interests.

Although the main two characters are Sudasa and Kiran, there are other characters, some that we get to know by interacting with them and others that we just get to know by hearing about them, but all have substance and more to them than we would have expected at first.

One thing I loved that maybe not everyone will get so easily is how immersed we get to an Indian-like culture, since Koyanagan was part of India, and it was done so well, it made me feel like I was back in India! I can understand that without a glossary of some sort you might be confused about some terms and customs, but for someone that has spent quite a few months in India in the past, it was like meeting an old friend and it felt so very genuine.

I adored this book because it was told beautifully, it's full of food for thought and it's full of diversity anywhere you look! Diverse, beautiful and feminist... my only complain is that I would have wanted to continue reading more many more pages, so I am hoping we'll get a sequel!

Very much deserved 4.5 to 5 stars and one of my absolute favourite debuts of the year!

Profile Image for Zoe.
406 reviews931 followers
March 11, 2016

No, we cannot change
the mistakes we've left behind.
But there's one thing we can do -
we can choose
not to repeat them.
Some of the stories that tend to stick with you the most are the ones that make you shudder because of how real and plausible they sound, and 5 to 1 is one of the rare books that does just that. It is a unique novel that not only surprises but also shows that the YA dystopian genre isn't completely dead yet.

5 to 1 is set in a futuristic India where the population now amounts to 1 boy for every 5 girls. As a result, every year every eligible boy must pass a series of tests, all of them judged by a girl. At the end of the Tests, the girl picks the contestant she want to marry.

Sudasa doesn't want to become a wife; but her family is desperate for her to become married. And Kiran, one of the boys competing in the Tests to earn her hand in marriage, doesn't want to be a husband. As they slowly realize they have the same goal in mind, they realize that the best thing for both of them may be the thing that pains them the most.

The thing is, there isn't much real characterization being done. I didn't know much about Sudusa and Kiran except that they were both rebellious and both didn't want to become married. There was such a massive amount of intricate plotwork being done that the true characterization just didn't reach the level it had the potential to.

This is by no means a perfect story, but compared to other "dystopians" such as Glitch and Article 1 it is almost somewhat of a triumph. The story itself is intelligently thought out and the way feminism and gender roles are touched upon without being preachy is brilliant.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 669 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.