5/5 stars. Dystopian, Young Adult, Marriage Competition, India.
In the year 2054, after decades of gender selection, India has a ratio of five boys to every girl, making women an incredibly valuable commodity. Tired of wedding their daughters to the highest bidder and determined to finally make marriage fair, the women who formed 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 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 until they slowly realize 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 feel both characters’ pain and their brave struggle for hope.
I remember buying 5 to 1 really cheap from BookOutlet a while back and I bought it because I thought it was poetry. I’m not the biggest fan of poetry, but have been trying to branch out, so was trying to sample many different kinds by getting some cheaper books.
Can you imagine my surprise when I found out I had discovered a dystopia (my favorite genre), set in India (most dystopias are set in the US), with a unique society where women hold all the power (not done that often), TOLD IN DUAL PERSPECTIVE WITH ONE CHARACTER IN VERSE AND ONE IN PROSE (I’ve never seen that before)??????????????
The only thing bad I can say about this is that I wanted it to go on longer – but even then I am 99% certain that adding more would destroy this masterpiece.
This book is super quick because most is told in verse and there are only 244 pages, and yes, the story feels short too, but this isn’t a story that needs to be longer. We get the world, we get where the world went wrong, we get the what-led-to-this information, we get the important characters… Honestly, it probably took some real, hardcore editing to get this book down to the bare guts, the bare essentials, of what this story is really about.
There is so much tension between the characters and the society, so many unspoken words, so much bodily communication. I love everything about this.
And the verse is so cool too! There is a lot of play with the fonts and what we can do with fonts: some things bolded, some s p a c e d, some crac ked.
I’m brought to the stage:
a golden statue,
in front of hungry hands.
I keep my own
the bag of rocks
I must give as rewards.
Five for first place.
Two for second.
One for third.
They’re supposed to symbolize
the winner’s ability
to build a wall of his own.
A wall around
I mean, wife.
I cannot say enough how much I enjoyed this book. The concept was an older one, but made new. Also probable. The characters moved me in such a small amount of words. The world had a web of secrets tied around it. There were so many interesting connections between the people.
Yes. Yes. I just want to keep saying that.
Dystopian fans, fans of strangely written novels, fans of ‘low-brow’ poetry and prose mash ups —> you should all immediately read this book.
Here it is on Amazon.
Here is a link to it cheaper at BookOutlet, although I am not sure how long it will work for.