The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist

The Unit

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.

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12 Responses to The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist

  1. Lauren says:

    Hey there! I just wanted to check out your blog. You checked out mine during the Blog Hop! Your blog is great, I’ve read a couple of your reviews and I am adding you to my blog roll so I can read some more!!

    The Unit sounds great! I love Dystopian Novels!

  2. Amanda says:

    I want to read this book! I have heard (and keep hearing) so much about it. I heard a great review of it on Books on the Nightstand a few months back and have been keeping an eye out for it in the local bookstore.

    Hey, I was just wondering: is the main character named with Charles Dickens’s Little Dorrit in mind?

    • leeswammes says:

      Oops, Amanda, here my ignorance shows up. I haven’t read Little Dorrit so I can’t tell really. For the record: I did read a few other Dickens because I do like his books!

  3. I quite enjoyed this one! The ending wasn’t quite what I expected, but in a way that was good so it’s not as predictable. My review:

  4. lucybirdbooks says:

    This sounds quite interesting. I think it shall go on the wishlist.

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  6. Crystal says:

    Wow, I just finished this one last night….found it from your list of dystopian novels. I loved this book…couldn’t put it down…it was eerie, too close to a possible future reality for me! The characters were so realistic…felt like I could see them, hear them…excellent descriptive writing without going overboard I thought. The hope in this novel was palpi table and yet tragic. As a reader I was “hoping” for a different ending or outcome for our heroine…and yet the realist in me sees the beauty of the author’s choice. (Plot spoiler begins here…please be aware!)

    The ending: hmm, seems to be the topic in the above comments…that’s why I love your blog! Itelligent readers sharing thoughts in an open and unbiased or prejudiced forum! I didn’t see it coming…I really thought that the story would continue longer…thought maybe the headmistress and the orderlies may help her out in this wild escape…but then…to where? She had no family to turn to, no money, no home to go to, they may put a manhunt search it for her so she’d always be looking over her shoulder…etc…that was the reality. Plus no partner to help her. I think she saw that from the onset…deep down. Why else did she not start a “plan” from the onset if acquiring the escape card? I loved that she did get out…if only for a walk…and really looked at her situation. She finally had CHOICE…her choice…and yet she chose to come back. I like to think its because she realized…those ladies in the unit….they needed her more than the child did.mthe child would be loved and given a chance…not the case with her friends. Fr once she was truly needed…she gave her partner’s life meaning. Her friends gave meaning to hers. That was the emotional pull for me. She had been so self sufficient and in the end…really cared for by this motley group sharing this grisly future beyond their control.

    On a side note, I loved the explored feelings of the women with children versus the have-nots. As one without children, I could see some of their arguments…and yet I loved the mothers’ perspective as well. Excellent writing in my opinion!

    Thanks for listening to my humble opinion…thoughts? Crystal

    • Leeswammes says:

      Crystal, thanks for you enthusiastic comment. You really enjoyed the book, didn’t you? I also thought it was very realistic but I also had hoped for a different ending. But you’re right, she didn’t have anywhere to go, so leaving wasn’t a good option for her. I like the rest of your explanation as well – but I should say it’s 2.5 years since I read the book and didn’t even remember that there was a child in the story.

      So, I can do no more than agree with you. Have you read Margaret Atwood’s books? They are very different but also dystopian, some from a women’s perspective. Two other “medical” dystopian books are *The Adoration of Jenna Fox*by Mary Pearson and *Never Let Me Go* by Kazuo Ishiguro.

      Have fun reading dystopian novels, I know I do. This week (or so), I’ll publish a review of a new apocalyptic novel, *The Uninvited* by Liz Jensen, which is also very good, but rather different from this one.

  7. Crystal says:

    Ha! I did notice the date you initially posted your review…yes, it has been awhile! Thanks for the suggestions…I will check out the medical dystopians. As for Atwood, I love her! Yes I read recently Oryx and Crake (loved it) and half way thru Year of the Flood. I put it down to finish the Unit, but will go back to it next. She is to come out with the third in that Oryx series 2013! Handmaid’s Tale was also good…great plot. Oryx has been my favorite so far though. Year of the Flood hasn’t “grabbed” me yet…I think it’s because she jumps around with the three characters’ stories so much, I can’t get absorbed. We will see, once done I will post on our site the final thumbs up or down! 🙂 I love your site…thx for the reviews! Because of you I added The Uninvited and her other one, The Rapture to my reading list! (Did you read that one?)

    • Leeswammes says:

      Crystal, I also found The Year of the Flood a bit hard to get into. I much preferred Oryx and Crake. But the story in YotF is very interesting I think. Especially because it suggests away of living a while after the apocalypse. Often books deal with the aftermath of an apocalypse but don’t go much further than that.

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