I’m pretty darned excited to be part of the blog tour for Holly Bodger’s new book, 5 TO 1. Besides an absolutely gorgeous cover, the story itself is enthralling. Written from two main points of view — Sudasa, a young woman who has zero desire to be a part of the circus that is her country’s way of both protecting their women while still perpetuating their race (aka forced marriage and breeding. Uhg!), and Kiran, a young man who also has no desire to compete for a bride, even if losing means facing a very short life on the Wall. Beautiful and poetic, heartbreaking and hopeful, 5 TO 1 hits the spot.
As part of the tour, Holly provided us with a couple of character dossiers: one for Sudasa’s sister, Surina, and one for Contestant One, who’s really kind of a douchenozzle. (Seriously, I was rooting for him to get killed off in the competitions. Alas. And no, there’s not a love triangle with him…or in this book at all. Actually, this story isn’t a romance, just a story of two people trying to escape an untenable situation.) Plus, there’s a rafflecopter down there, so you can win a copy of this story all for yourself!
5 TO 1 by Holly Bodger
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on May 12, 2015
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Format: eARC; Source: Publisher
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.
Character Dossier: Surina
Full Name: Surina Yasmin Bala (Suri for short)
Birthdate: May 27, 2035
Height: 5’ 7”
Weight: 120 lbs
Marital Status: Married for just over two years
Parents: Nalini and Pran Bala
Siblings: I have a younger sister named Sudasa. She is Papa’s favorite. She looks more like him while I look like Nani’s sister, Yasmin (I don’t call her that. She is Mota Masi to me!)
Current Residence: I live in a penthouse flat in Tower B of Koyanagar Heights. Nani gave me my own sitting room and bathroom after I got married. Sudasa only has a bedroom.
Greatest accomplishment: I was chosen to be the poster girl for Koyanagar when I was 6. Nani said it was a great honor. Everyone would see my face and they would love me and that would make them want to make the country better for me. I don’t know if this is still what they think when they see me. Sometimes, I think they’re jealous.
Greatest dream: To have a baby girl.
Most valuable possession: The emerald earrings Papa gave me when I turned 16. They belonged to his mother and they go with Mummy’s engagement ring. I think he gave them to me because she wants me to have her ring when she dies. Plus I am the eldest and Sudasa doesn’t like jewelery so they should be mine.
Strengths: I always get what I want. Well, except once.
Weaknesses: I hate disappointing Mummy. She has already had many disappointments in her life. Her children should not bring more.
Fears: Being poor or ugly.
Happiest Memory: Before Nani went to the Prime Minister and asked for control of Koyanagar, we used to have many celebrations in our town. The best was Holi. Mummy used to let me get as mucky as I wished. I’m sure I looked like the insides of a pencil sharpener when I came home!
Saddest Memory: Four years ago, I was going with Nani to the State Council. She’d forgotten something in her office and insisted I go with her to retrieve it. She has been doing these for years—making up excuses to take me there. Nani has always thought I had a State position in my future! On that day, there was a backup on the main road through Koyanagar so our driver had to take us down some smaller roads. When he stopped the carriage so we could cross traffic, there was a crowd of men standing on the pavement. Nani said, “Look away, Surina. Those men don’t deserve your attention.” I lowered my eyes, but as I passed, I glanced quickly at their feet. There was a body there, lying on the pavement like a piece of trash. But that wasn’t the worst part. The worst part was that it was Tuka, my friend from nursery school. I hadn’t seen him in a few years, but I would have recognized him anywhere. Poor Tuka.
Biggest regret: Not cheating on my Tests. Don’t tell Sudasa I said that!
Character Dossier: Contestant One
Full Name: Jaldhar Kohli. My parents call me Jal. My friends call me Mr. Kohli. Yeah, I told them to. So what?
Birthdate: Dec 4, 2036
Weight: 165 lbs of pure muscle and I mean everywhere.
Eyes: Smoldering. Oh you mean color? Dark brown.
Hair: Black with just the right amount of wave. It’s all about the cut.
Marital Status: Single, but not for long if you know what I mean. 😉
Parents: Meena and Raja Kohli
Siblings: Three younger sisters (ages 7, 5 and 1). Total brats.
Current Residence: Penthouse flat in Tower A of Koyanagar Heights. Only the best for Mr. Kohli!
Greatest accomplishment: It’s a long list!
Greatest dream: To be the head of the State Council. I know it’s just women now, but that can’t last much longer. Those birds need a little testosterone around and I am just the man to provide it. And once I get there and shakes things up, they’ll realize they made a mistake trying to keep us down.
Most valuable possession: Black diamond earring. My nani gave me this after she lost the other one. It’s almost two carats. Worth a mint.
Strengths: Have you seen me? Everything.
Weaknesses: None. Well, perhaps a beautiful smile.
Fears: Ha! What do I have to be afraid of?
Happiest Memory: When my second sister was born. I knew I had it made then. No life at the wall for Mr. Kohli.
Saddest Memory: Sad is for weaklings.
Biggest regret: Regret is for weaklings, too. You want people to respect you? You got to show them who’s the boss. It’s the same with girls. They may have all the money and power and all that…for now…but they still want a man to show them where it’s at. That’s like human nature.
HOLLY BODGER has a BA in English Literature and has spent her entire career in publishing. She is an active member of RWA and is a 2013 Golden Heart finalist in the Young Adult category. She lives in Ottawa, Canada.
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THE FEARLESS BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE
5/11 – Pivot Book Reviews – GP
5/12 – The Irish Banana Review – Author and Cover Designer Interview
5/13 – No BS Book Reviews – Q&A
5/14 – My Friends Are Fiction – GP
5/15 – Seeing Double in Neverland – Q&A
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