Review: 5 to 1 – Holly Bodger

Posted 30 May, 2016 by Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms in Reviews / 24 Comments

Review: 5 to 1 – Holly Bodger5 to 1 by Holly Bodger
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on 12 May 2015
Genres: Dystopian
Pages: 244
Format: Kindle
Source: Kindle Purchase
2.5 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 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.

5 to 1 has an amazing premise, however, more than being about women in power, it was about someone abusing power in a society that had opposite values from the patriarchal one.

Review - (un)Conventional Bookviews

The prose (and the verse) in 5 to 1 was beautiful, but the story didn’t really carry its own weight in my opinion. It was as if the society and how it works in some countries today – one child policy, a very strong want for sons, women being at the mercy of the men in their family – was just turned upside down. And that made the story less relevant to me – because it didn’t really ask any important questions, it just showed us what is wrong, by doing it completely opposite to how it looks in patriarchal societies.

The world building was flimsy at best, as apart from the fact that women had taken the decision to stop ‘getting rid of’ their daughters, by putting a wall up around their new country, and more or less forcing men – and a lot of women, too – to obey the new laws. 5 to 1 could have been much more, but it read like a cross between The Hunger Games and the Testing and Egalia’s Daughters.

Because of the shortness of the story, which only spanned over three days, and the fact that Sudasa’s chapters were in verse made it a bit difficult to actually connect to her, even if the writing was gorgeous. Normally, dual points of views makes me feel like I really get to know the characters, but here, that didn’t really happen. It just kind of poked at the surface, never going deep enough to get all the dirty details.

Fave Quotes - (un)Conventional Bookviews

These people have been here before.
Those over> thirty as audience.
Those under< as players.
                  (Women in my place.
                    Men on the stage.)
The men played a game.
Put on a show. Won
                 a contest.
                 a wife.
                 a life.
Life sentence, if you ask me.

He speaks using only the best words. He tends only the strongest crops. He has saved everything to give me one shot, and one shot only, at a new life.

The State provides their food, their shelter, their shackles for life. It’s do or die – or, for many, do and die.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

About Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

Linda is an English as foreign language teacher and has a Master's degree in English Language and Literature. She's an avid reader, blogger, compulsive one-clicker and a genre omnivore. Ever since she learnt how to read she has been seen with a book or two in her hands everywhere she goes.

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24 responses to “Review: 5 to 1 – Holly Bodger

  1. Sorry it fell short of it’s promise and didn’t dig deep enough. I like dystopian world building and plots because they present problematic situations, but I need the characters and the story to be engaging, too. Different choice for her POV, that would be hard to get to know her.

    I’ll keep it in mind.

    • I enjoy dystopians, too, Sophia Rose. And I really wanted this book since long before it was released. The problematic situations weren’t dealt with completely, here, which is why I felt like the story didn’t delve into things the way I thought it would.

  2. Lekeisha
    Twitter:

    This one has been on my wish list for some time. Sorry that this wasn’t for you. It reminds me of one that I read last year with the same theme.

  3. I’ve been wondering about this book ever since I found out about it and aside from the beautiful prose it doesn’t sound so good. But I think I’d still check it out if I’ll get my hands on it at some point to see how I like it. Great review!

  4. I’m sorry this didn’t work for you, Lexxie. I liked it overall because the writing was lovely and I liked the message it had, but I can certainly understand where you’re coming from. The world building was definitely flimsy. There’s a sequel in the works if I’m not mistaken, so maybe there will be more world building in that one.
    Great review!

    • I would actually be very interested in a sequel, Nick. Because the premise is awesome, and, as you said, the writing is gorgeous. And if we get some more background, plus get to know the characters better in a sequel, I’m all for it!

  5. Wow, this one really sounds like wasted potential to me! That’s too bad because the premise sounds unique enough on it’s own. I’m sorry that this just didn’t work out for you Lexxie^^ but thanks for sharing your thoughts here! Hopefully your next book is/was better 🙂

    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted: Review: Once Was A Time
  6. I’m sorry this one didn’t really work for you, Lexxie. I know you were excited about it – and I was excited for you. But it doesn’t seem to have really delivered on that fabulous premise – and I’m kinda turned off by the way you’ve described how it was done. :/

    **BIG HUGS**

  7. It seems like this one didn’t quite work for you because it didn’t really discuss the themes that it was mentioning but more so just showed them in reverse with beautiful prose. A shame, really :/

  8. I really didn’t understand how Sudasa was harassed by her cousin if the society was a matriarchy. Her cousin should have been punished long ago. That never made sense to me.

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