If you’ve been reading YA for a while, you might feel like you have seen all that the genre has to offer, but you really haven’t until you’ve read 5 to 1. The title is a play on the male to female ratio in this future world where the fallout for selective birth has hit India hard. It is also a play on the numbers of the two potential husbands who are competing for the privilege of marrying one of those precious, powerful girls. Don’t expect romance, but there are still swoon worthy moments in this gem.
5 to 1 has an intriguing premise, and it doesn’t disappoint. Sudasa must choose a husband, one that will give her daughters, in a future where selective reproduction has made girls very valuable. Kieran knows his plan to avoid being chosen as a husband is foolproof. He has a bigger plan in mind. Both of them are faced with an impossible decision when the obvious choice for Sudana proves himself to be the worst. One of them will have to sacrifice a dream to make the other happy, but you won’t puzzle it out until the very end. Told in altering narratives, this beautifully written book manages to convey all the longing and sacrifice of two characters living under rules that chafe and bind. Sudana’s narrative is written as poetry, and I hate books written in poetry, but this poetry can easily be read like prose, and it might have changed my mind about exactly what I hate in books. Both of the main characters express universal feelings that will draw in the intended audience easily, and I liked them both for their ability to see the faults in a system that failed to balance an earlier evil. This is a fast read (I clocked in just under two hours), but it packs a punch. The story covers the three days of testing that lead up to Sudana’s choice. It is well paced and I was utterly captivated by both the story and the writing, so I read it straight through. This is a different take on the dystopian genre, and it was a great one. It is definitely a smart way to introduce a social issue and a diverse culture to YA readers.
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.