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Monday, June 8, 2009

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist

The Unit

Publisher: Other Press
ISBN: 1590513134
Pages: 272 pgs
Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopian
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

 Publisher’s Description:

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.

My Review:

The first thing I noticed when I received this book was the cover. It’s beautiful. It’s stark and immediately created an interest in the novel without even reading a word.

When I began reading I found that the cover is the perfect representation of this book. The novel itself is quite stark. You definitely get the feeling of captivity and restriction. I can honestly say that this was the most frightening book I have ever read. People who were not “needed” being used as veritable organ harvests for people who are needed is simply the most scary thing to me. For someone who plans on not having children, seeing my worth in relation to my willingness and ability to reproduce was a bit jarring. Nevertheless, it did not take anything away from my enjoyment of the novel.

There are so many things I loved in this book that it is difficult to remember all of them. First of all, the prose is beautiful. Every word is a joy to read. I really liked Dorrit. She was a really great character to follow. She was engaging and entertaining. I found it really interesting that of all the things she had to leave behind of her former life, she looks back on her dog, Jock, the most. Perhaps this is because dogs can’t judge whether you are needed or not because they just want you not because you are useful or necessary but because you are there. Her relationship with Johannes was heart wrenching and heartbreaking. I cried more during her scenes with him than any other. I wished that they had gone back in time and met when they were younger and had many children so that they could grow old together.

This is the type of book that will stick with you. I loved it and I would recommend this to anyone who likes a good dystopian novel.
*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.



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