Review: The Unit – Ninni Holmqvist

One day in early spring, Dorrit Weger is checked into the Second Reserve Bank Unit for biological material. She is promised a nicely furnished apartment inside the Unit, where she will make new friends, enjoy the state of the art recreation facilities, and live the few remaining days of her life in comfort with people who are just like her. Here, women over the age of fifty and men over sixty–single, childless, and without jobs in progressive industries–are sequestered for their final few years; they are considered outsiders. In the Unit they are expected to contribute themselves for drug and psychological testing, and ultimately donate their organs, little by little, until the final donation. Despite the ruthless nature of this practice, the ethos of this near-future society and the Unit is to take care of others, and Dorrit finds herself living under very pleasant conditions: well-housed, well-fed, and well-attended. She is resigned to her fate and discovers her days there to be rather consoling and peaceful. But when she meets a man inside the Unit and falls in love, the extraordinary becomes a reality and life suddenly turns unbearable. Dorrit is faced with compliance or escape, and…well, then what?
THE UNIT is a gripping exploration of a society in the throes of an experiment, in which the “dispensable” ones are convinced under gentle coercion of the importance of sacrificing for the “necessary” ones. Ninni Holmqvist has created a debut novel of humor, sorrow, and rage about love, the close bonds of friendship, and about a cynical, utilitarian way of thinking disguised as care. 

Genre: Dystopia
Pages: 268
Published: 2009
Publisher: OtherPress
Source: gift

My thoughts:

This book was disturbing, but in a quiet way. It felt so real, so now, so damn concerning. 
Dorrit lives in a world that changed during her lifetime. The book did make me think of Never Let Me go. With the whole aspect that it feels so now, like it could happen any day. But that some people are not really treated well and made do donate organs. Here women over 50 and men over 60 are risking to go to the Unit. They are those who have no children and because of that they are not worth much. They do not bring anything to society. Sure Dorrit is an author, but she has no close relationships. This is a world where you should be productive and work, and have kids. Of course you are not allowed to stay home with those kids, you have to work. Society also looks down on the disposables. A fair society? I think not. What if you can’t have kids? What if you are not that rich? What if you have a crappy job and you try and try for an adoption? If it does not work out you have two choices. Kill yourself or go and live at the unit. Donate your organs and take part in experiments. Sure they treat you well but you are not human anymore. And I doubt this system is entirely fair for those who get the organs either. Some will always have a bigger chance. And what happens when this system is well on its way, when everyone gets those babies? It’s a system that will get everyone in the end. 
Ok that was a long paragraph about the world itself. The book then, it was not that dark. The Unit is just so nice, but you see that behind the scenes these people are nothing more than test animals. I also like how real it feel, like it truly could happen. The day the government tells us they think that or this group is not as good, cos in the end that happens everyday. 
For the thoughts it brought it was a good book. It made me think more than the usual type of dystopia out there.

38 thoughts on “Review: The Unit – Ninni Holmqvist

  1. Chris says:

    It sounds like one that would definitely get you thinking!!Have you read The Handmaid's Tale? A much older dystopian book… but one that doesn't seem as implausible as it once did, at least here in the US…

  2. Anachronist says:

    The book did make me think of Never Let Me go.I second that. I love dystopias so I would like to read this one, especially that I think I would be a perfect Unit material…yes, it sends shivers down my spine. A great review!

  3. Missie, The Unread Reader says:

    I think stuff like this is happening. I just read a review on Misfit Saloon that in some parts of the world people do sell their extra organs. Hard to imagine, but true. I never read the book Never Let Me Go, but I did watch the film and I didn't quite get why those people let themselves be used that way. I was obviously missing something. But this book sounds very interesting. I like the way you described it, "disturbing, but in a quiet way."

  4. Ryan says:

    I still need to read Never Let Me Go, which I own but have not read. Maybe, if I like that one, I'll check this out as well. Great review.

  5. Aurian says:

    This sure sounds like a strange book. And to stop working at 50 would be a dream, cause now I have to work till 67. And before I get there, I imagine that age will be 70. Of course, being experimented upon is not something I wish, but being able to read and relax, yes please.

  6. Blodeuedd says:

    The politics in your country freak me out. I can't believe the things they are saying, here, oh it would so not work here.Nope, i did try, but the first rape scene creeped me out

  7. Blodeuedd says:

    There are the ones that are not very likely, but so entertaining and then books like this one that could happen. There are always those who think others are not worth as much

  8. Blodeuedd says:

    Maybe cos they did not known, and then because it was all the knew. It had been bred into them. Here at least it was different cos she was older, and she did have a choice. Kill herself or this.And yes people are selling their organs, horrible, but money is needed

  9. Blodeuedd says:

    Same here, work and work, don't they get that people are not getting healthier? They will just fall down dead at work.But to be in the Unit, no thanks. Horrible experiments, taking all your organs, no no

  10. Darlene says:

    I have had this book on my shelf for ages. I love the premise of it – well not love it as in it actually happening, but I like books like this. I really need to dig out my copy.

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