Published by: Knopf BYR on May 12, 2015
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
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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 received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
One Line: A captivating story with strong characters and a twisted plot made for an unputdownable read.
In My Opinion: Must. Read. NOW!
Just from the premise alone, I knew I was going to like this book. Little did I know, I ended up loving it. Something about the characters, being inside their heads, along with Holly’s unique and captivating writing style, I was fully engrossed in this book from the beginning to end. It’s usually girls getting the short end of the stick, being pitted against other girls in a totally male-dominated world. Sure, it ends up proving the strength and determination that women are capable of, it’s been done so many times. How could I not be intrigued by a female-dominated world where the men have to fight to get the girl, fight to live, actually?
The story is told in dual POVs, a favorite of mine, but it’s also told in verse for the girl, Sudasa’s, chapters and it was surprising at first, but I ended up really loving it. I love how we dive right into the story, most of the book revolves around the competition, and of Sudasa and Kiran trying to break free from the chains that bind them. The ending was very much open and it left me totally wanting more. I seriously hope there’s a sequel.
Sudasa is part of a powerful and wealthy family. It’s her turn to choose a husband from the pool of boys in the competition. Of course, she’s not particularly happy about this whole thing and she’s even more upset that her grandmother, a very important figure in their government, has altered her competition in a pretty unfavorable way. Ugh, I couldn’t stand her grandmother at all. It was kind of touch and go for a minute there. I didn’t know when or if Sudasa would stand up to her or change things in her favor. What she wants is different from what her grandmother wants, sure, but I didn’t know how far she would go for what she believes in. I certainly expected the ending to go in a different way, but I’m so happy that Holly did it the way that she did. Sudasa turned out to be a pretty strong character. There were a couple times that she basically stuck it to her grandmother and I reveled in those moments.
Kiran didn’t have as powerful a presence as Sudasa, but I still really enjoyed his chapters and getting to know him as well. I liked watching him compete against the others, trying not to stand out so much, but standing out nonetheless. It definitely surprised me how he was playing the game, but not really. His goals were different from what you’d expect from a character under this kind of storyline, but in a good way. He’s pretty jaded and cold to Sudasa at times, which is understandable, but there’s also those moments of compassion and care that slipped through that showed his genuine character and made me like him. I don’t feel like I really knew him all that well, but from what I do know, I liked.
This is the kind of dystopian I like. Plenty of action and drama. There is a good amount of world-building without the frivolous details that tend to drag like a lot of other books in this genre tend to do. I also really loved how Holly incorporated a lot of the Indian culture into the story. You all know me and you know that I get bored easily and I can’t stand info dumps or too much focus on the world and not enough on the actual story. Thankfully, that’s not the case here. The story is engaging and entertaining. I adored Holly’s writing so much. I couldn’t flip through the pages fast enough. It’s definitely a fantastic read.