5 to 1, by Holly Bodger

5 to 15 to 1
by Holly Bodger
Pub. Date: May 12, 2015

I once read an article about how China has become a culture of bachelors in the decades since they made it a law that a woman could have only one child. It made me wonder, what will happen in a couple more decades? What will China do if men begin to outnumber women at a dangerous level?

5 to 1 is a dystopian novel that looks at a possibility of what could happen to a society if there are five men for every single woman. Would women become a valuable commodity? Would men fight for the right to marry? In a small part of India 40 years in the future, young men are put into groups of five to compete for their chance to become a husband and father. A young woman is assigned to be the judge of one of these groups to choose which young man will be her husband. Every young man and young woman is required to participate; every woman must marry and a man’s importance is based on how many girls he can father.

5 to 1 is written in alternating perspectives: Sudasa in verse and Kiran in prose. Sudasa is an observant young woman who sees the hypocrisy in her community. Kiran is an angry young man who refuses to participate in the competition for Sudasa’s hand. Yet, as the competition continues, Sudasa and Kiran realize that they want the same thing: a choice.

In this novel, I appreciated how Holly Bodger looked at a real life issue in today’s world and contemplated its effect on the future. I also loved how she pointed out the harm that can come when people act on revenge and anger. The novel was very clean, except for one part of the novel that discusses the possibility of having an abortion and a couple rude sexual comments. Overall, I thought this was a great novel that investigates how people strive to help others, find hope in the future, and make life better for their children.

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