I was contacted and asked to review a brand new book by Ninni Holmqvist. Unfortunately, I just didn't have time to read it and passed it off to a friend of mine. I have posted her wonderful review below...

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist

Holmqvist’s novel which takes place in the near future is beautifully written; sometimes the language is almost painfully descriptive. At times; reading this novel is more like watching a movie, with ever single action described in extensive detail. The main character, Dorrit is a woman who has just turned 50 years old and is now deemed as a “dispensable,” in her society; someone who is no longer needed in the community as a whole being. Women over 50 and men over 60 are required to move into the unit, where they are to participate in experiments of all different sorts, with their lives ending by making their “final donation,” which means donating vital organs to those who are “needed,” out in the community. The majority of needed people are parents, who are wanted to be kept alive to raise their children. The novel spans over two years, and at the beginning, other types of needed (or protected) people worked in professions such as in the government, are teachers or doctors and didn’t necessarily need to have children. Nevertheless at the end of the novel, even those involved in those professions are no longer protected from having to make the ultimate sacrifice. Women and men, who do not produce children in the outside community, are seen as outcasts. Even though this novel takes place in Sweden, there seems to also be a stigma against people who do not have families in our own country. People with children and people without are considered worlds apart.

I find it interesting that the word community is relegated to more of a negative thing, even though everyone in the unit, ends up making the ultimate sacrifice to the community. There are negative and reciprocal feelings that the “dispensable” and the “needed” have for each other. I also found it interesting that people with children are rarely referred to as husband and wife. They are referred to as “partners,” who do not have to necessarily be married or even be of opposite genders. Another issue that disturbed me is that the leap does not seem to be a very large one between our current assisted living centers or nursing homes for the elderly to places like the unit. One issue that bothered me about this book is that Holmqvist never seems to state whether the need for vital organs has increased dramatically due to a rise in cancer or other factors, or if it is just a natural progression. There is a huge movement in the U.S., for people to donate their organs if they die. In this state, you can check a box on your drivers’ license that states you are a donor. My father thinks that everyone should have to donate their organs that die. He sees it as a waste when people do not. So in reality, how far are we away from places like units?

Dorrit is a writer who never has constant work and she was poor. In the unit, she never has to worry about buying food, clothes or any other necessities. She has access to state of the art exercise machines, gyms, classes, a swimming pool, a sauna as well as wonderful dining and entertainment. However, there is this constant underlying feeling of panic. People never know when their friends might disappear; they never know what negative effects they could have from the medical experiments in which they are forced to take part. The generations within the unit are very short. Living over 3 years in the unit is something of an anomaly. Within these walls with no windows but a domed ceiling that lets the “dispensable” look at the night sky, Dorrit finds friends that she never had out in the community and she also falls in love. The twists that happen at the end of the book are interesting but the decisions she makes because of what happens to her are remarkable. I recommend this book to people who enjoy fiction that may be closer to the truth, to those who enjoy friendship, love, but are willing to deal with disturbing issues that are raised within the pages.
--Review by Heather Cory



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1 messages:

  1. Jenny said...

    This sounds like a really nifty book. I'd like to read it.  


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