5 to 1 by Holly Bodger


Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Page count: 244 pages (US hardcover edition)

Source: Bookoutlet.com

Format: Print


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 is one of the most unique books I have ever read. It takes place in India, it has a very heavy sense of feminism, AND to top it all off, it’s a dystopian half-written in verse.

Don’t get me wrong, this book had a LOT of flaws, but first I want to highlight all of things I enjoyed about it.

One of the things I liked was the originality. Dystopian is one of my favorite genres and I haven’t been wildly interested in one in a while and this definitely accomplished just that. I’ve never read a dystopian that takes place outside of the United States (that I know of) and the fact that it was written in verse just made it that much more original.

I also loved the pacing of this book. Half of it was written in verse so this book was really fast to read but at the same time, it was so profound that I had to really take my time reading it.

Now onto the things I didn’t enjoy as much, these didn’t cause me to hate this book, but I definitely paid a factor in how I rated it.

The first thing that I didn’t like was that there was hardly any world building at all. We never got to see how the women came to power or how the competition came about and I would really just love to see that.

Another thing that I didn’t like and probably bothered me the most was the lack of character development. Because there was such a lack of development of the characters I didn’t find myself ever caring about the characters very much at all.


So in conclusion, I would definitely recommend 5 to 1, but if you are wanting to read a dystopian that has great world building or three dimensional characters- I’d search elsewhere.

Starred rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


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