The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist
July 2, 2010 12 Comments
A dystopian novel (2006) taking place in the near future. Most elements of society seem to be just like ours, with one exception: women over the age of 50 and men over 60 that have no children, are considered “outsiders”. Outsiders are taken away to a Unit for Biological Material.
Here, they live in separated from society (but in their own peer group), taking part in psychological and medical research. They also donate organs when they are a match with someone in society outside, until their final donation of vital organs leads to their death.
They live in very good conditions, in a beautiful building with everything they may wish or need. The main character, Dorrit, moves to this unit on her 50th birthday. She is quite willing to go, it is what is expected of her and she complies.
Only 15 years ago the law regarding the removal of outsiders was passed. At the time Dorrit was still hopeful of having children so she did nothing to fight this law and passively accepted it. After she’s been in the unit for a short while she starts to question her situation and that of her peers.
I thought the book was very realistic. Since it was set in the very near future, with not many (other) changes from our current society, it was a very possible future. I’m not sure whether Dorrit, had she been real, would have accepted these outsider laws so readily. On the other hand, the book suggested that people with children were looking down on those without, indeed finding them outsiders of their society and therefore, dispensable.
A good read, with lots to consider about society and ethics.