The Unit, by Ninni Holmqvist

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I really need to review these books as soon as I finish them, because I am pages away from finishing my third book of the year, AND halfway through another one. So far, the first twelve days of 2012 have been ones of voracious reading. 

The Unit is a book I’ve had on my Kindle for a while but never started for one reason or another – but once I did, I really couldn’t stop reading it. This is a piece of speculative fiction, sort of like Never Let Me Go, but, in my humble opinion, much more fast paced and accessible. 

The Unit follows the story of a woman named Dorrit. She has reached her 50th birthday without having children, and so therefore in her society she is a dispensible person. She’s sent to the Unit – the Second Reserve Bank Unit for Biological Material – because being her age, with no husband, no children, and no one out in the world who “needs” her, she has become a drain on societies’ resources. Lucky for Dorrit and thousands of other elderly people, The Unit will make her quite useful. 

Upon arriving at The Unit, where she is never allowed to leave, even to go outside, she finds that her apartment is nice, luxurious even, and that she can pretty much do as she pleases there. The Unit has theatres, gyms, parks, libraries, stores, art galleries – plenty of things to keep people occupied and happy while they are undergoing extensive medical test, drug trials, and organ donations until they make their “final donation” usually before five years have passed in The Unit.

So yeah, it’s all very macabre, very dark and makes you feel like an icky voyeur for reading something that is so terrible, but that’s why I like it – and it gets worse – because Dorrit falls in love while she is in the Unit, and then something remarkable happens that makes her wonder whether she is really indispensable after all. 

I really enjoyed this book – more than most I have read recently. I find it very… fascinating when writers create a world that is just like ours but with one major (or even minor) variation that changes everything. It was like that, sort of, in A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, and that is one of my favorite of her books. 

Granted, the books I enjoy the most are the ones that most people read and say “This is FUCKED UP!” but at least I know there are others out there who feel the same way I do. These worlds that are created in books, these dystopias, they are horrifying – but just real enough that it is easy to suspend your disbelief for just a little while and in that time maybe you might think, like I do, that this is just all too possible….

One Comment on “The Unit, by Ninni Holmqvist”

  1. Freaky! I like these novels too – I'm an old sci-fi fan who loved it because of the wordbuilding that went on. Even before an author puts pen to paper, she has to decide what her world will be like. Where will people live? Eat? Work? What rules will the nation follow? What physics will the world follow? Very interesting stuff.Sorry it was a downer, though – but thanks for warning me – that helps when I'm trying to decide what to read next!(Welcome to blogging – I saw your comment at Jodi's and had to check you out. I recognized your name so had to come over!)

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