Published by Knopf (5.12.2015)
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Format: eARC, 224 pages
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 Kiran, 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. Kiran’s family wants him to escape by failing the tests. 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.
I certainly wasn’t expecting verse! It was a bit distracting, though, which is why I don’t usually read verse. I get so focused on the lyrical quality that I don’t pay attention to what’s happening. Holly Bodger’s prose was beautiful, though! I liked that Sudasa’s POV was written in verse and 5’s was written in regular prose. It made a clear distinction between their voices.
I’m afraid I didn’t connect to the story quite like I’d hoped. While the idea was interesting, it didn’t capture me. And the short length of the story made it seem very abrupt and rushed. I mostly enjoyed it while reading, but it won’t stick with me, which is the main reason for the lower rating despite higher ratings on some things in the Overall Assessment category.
I did like the concept of 5 to 1 being the ratio of men to women, and men compete for the women because they are a prized commodity. I got a very good feel for the dystopian society that Holly painted. I could feel 5’s deep rooted bitterness toward women whenever he spoke of them, and the unfairness of the society.
In the beginning, 5 had a very negative opinion of Sudasa. He thought she was a spoiled rich girl, and he thought that she looked down on him. He also thought that she wanted her cousin to win because he was the rich boy. I enjoyed how those opinions changed as he got to know her, and he came to realize that she wanted to get out as much as he did.
Also, there was a year!! That’s always a plus for me.
“A man is measured,
not by the answers he finds,
but the questions he asks.
Find an answer
and you stand still.
Stop asking questions
and you die.”
Writing style: 4/5
Overall rating: 2.5/5