Rating: 4/5 stars
Genres: YA, Dystopian, Poetry
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
So real talk: I love novels that are in verse. I haven’t read many, but the few that I have are amazing. And 5 to 1 is no exception. I think that it’s an extremely powerful book, and also beautifully written. The author clearly knew what they were doing with this book.
If you’re a feminist, you have to read this book. Absolutely must read it, because IT WILL CHANGE YOU. Essentially, this book is a role reversal of males and females in India. It’s set in a “dystopian” world, even though it’s not really dystopian. It’s pretty much the world we live in today, just with male oppression and female dominance. I’m really fascinated by gender roles and how genders are viewed in a society, and this book gives so much insight into that. When you flip the situation, the inequalities of a society become so obvious it hurts. And honestly: this book hurts to read sometimes. It’s not easy to go through this and think about how horribly women can be treated in other parts of the world. Like, it’s a mentally exhausting book, but it’s so worth it.
I loved how the book was set up. Sudasa’s narration is in verse, while Kiran, or as we know him for most of the book, Five, writes in prose. The dual perspective was perfect for this novel. Because it focuses so much on male vs. female, having a male and female narration made it even more powerful. The author made an EXCELLENT choice here.
Sudasa was an awesome character. She was independent and didn’t want to be told by her powerful grandmother, or Nani, what to do. She was very aware of the injustice present in her society, and not naive at all. I felt like she was a selfless person, mostly because she really did want the best for all the boys in the Tests, yet she remained assertive. I really don’t share any similarities with Sudasa, but somehow I felt connected to her while reading. She seemed like a real person and I just got her. I understood her frustrations and anger and confusion. I could relate to her throughout the entire book, which was pretty cool.
Five or Kiran was very interesting. I liked him a lot. He fit the book perfectly. I think that him and Sudasa would make one of the greatest power couples in all of literature. No joke. He was very similar to Sudasa in that he carried himself with pride, but he never believed he was better than anyone around him. At the beginning of the book, it was very difficult to understand his actions and personality. By the end, you get a lot of insight into his past and where his thoughts come from, and everything starts to make sense.
Before I read the book, i saw on the author’s Twitter something about a documentary called It’s a Girl. I watched it before I read the book, just for the heck of it (it’s on Hulu for free btw). I think that watching it first was a really good idea because it provides a lot of background and insight into the issues of gender inequality in India and China going on right now. The book is very powerful on its own, but I think with the documentary, the issues in our current society are even more prominent. I highly recommend watching it before reading, or honestly just watching it whenever. It’s an amazing documentary.
The story itself was why I gave the book four stars. I didn’t really like where the book ended. I was hoping for just a little more. Not much, maybe an epilogue? That would’ve wrapped things up a lot better. I mean I understand that this book doesn’t hold it’s value in the plot, rather it’s message, but I would’ve liked to have seen just a little more. We don’t get any glimpse into what it’s like outside of the Tests. That was a little disappointing for me, because I think even just one scene with Sudasa in the local market or something along those lines would have added a lot more to the story. And maybe just make it more interesting.
The book was definitely fantastic. It’s one of those books that everyone should read once. It would be a great book to put into curriculums as well. Even if you don’t like verse or are in any way hesitant, I’m sure you’ll end up loving it. 5 to 1 will be released May 12, so definitely check it out then!
Btw: That cover is GORGEOUS. YES PLEASE.
*** e-ARC kindly provided by NetGalley ***