REVIEW: #70 The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist
Title: The Unit
Author: Ninni Holmqvist
Synopsis: (Taken from Amazon.com)
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.
What I liked about this book is that it started right away. There was no slow start and no unnecessary information. Everything had it’s purpose and everything held my interest. What was interesting was the society-themes present in this novel. Imagine a life where people who never married and/or produced children were considered “unwanted”.
These unwanted individuals were no longer considered human, but test-objects and/or donors. Imagine a life in which you were forced to endure scientific experiments that could cost you your sight, your beauty, your hearing.. your life?
Dorrit accepts her fate and moves into the Unit — where she has her own apartment (fully furnished and modern). Free food, clothes, entertainment. Plus — for once in her life, among people of her own “kind” she feels accepted for who she truly is. Suddenly Dorrit doesn’t feel like such a society-based failure. She has friends. She has purpose. She finds.. love?
The Unit gives a vivid picture of life in The Unit among the life of society’s biggest “outcasts”. When Dorrit realizes life in The Unit isn’t as picture perfect as it seems — what will she do to get out?
I found this book to be incredibly thought provoking and would make a wonderful book club addition with plenty of discussion to back it. This book is relatively short and an easy read (for the most part — although emotionally difficult). A wonderful Dystopian read, I highly recommend it!