Customer Reviews for

The Unit

Average Rating 4
( 52 )
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(18)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

WOW!!

The Unit is one of those books that is so scary because it could actually happen in the future. The writing style captured and held my attention from the first word to the last page. Some of the plot was predictable, but the author always managed to put an unforseeabl...
The Unit is one of those books that is so scary because it could actually happen in the future. The writing style captured and held my attention from the first word to the last page. Some of the plot was predictable, but the author always managed to put an unforseeable spin or twist on it. Fantastic story that is somehow both chilling and heartwarming.

posted by SF on November 21, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Holmqvist creates a sterile, haunting tale that is surreal yet also a bit familiar.

"The Unit" is deceptively pleasant. Picture a gorgeous resort, complete with spas, recreational facilities, gyms, pools, libraries, lots of restaurants to eat in and beautiful gardens. Add to that, well-appointed apartments and access to the best medical care. All of th...
"The Unit" is deceptively pleasant. Picture a gorgeous resort, complete with spas, recreational facilities, gyms, pools, libraries, lots of restaurants to eat in and beautiful gardens. Add to that, well-appointed apartments and access to the best medical care. All of this for nothing. Well, not quite. As the residents live out their lives, they are subjected to medical experiments and research trials that include mind-altering drugs, rashes, painful skin ailments, or.organ donation if the Unit requires it. As you can imagine, some organ donations could mean the end of the line for the resident. They call this, the "final" donation and it gave me chills every time I came across the term.

Although there are rules and 24-hour surveillance cameras, the residents grow accustomed to life in the Unit and actually begin to look forward to when they can once again be necessary and contribute whatever is needed to those on the outside. As Dorrit settles into her new life, she doesn't expect to find love so she is quite surprised when she does. This added element of complication, forces her to consider her options. None of which seem ideal.

The Unit is highly stylized in the telling. As a reader, I found myself completely absorbed in the actual structure of the Unit itself. It seemed very modern, but not too far into the distant future which was a bit unsettling to me. The author paints a bleak, chilling tale yet everyone is pleasant.polite and even caring which is surprising in that cold, antiseptic environment. The residents and staff treat each other with great respect. They function for the good of society and all seem willing to contribute in their own way. It's frightening really. It's perfect in one sense but completely horrific in another.

Holmqvist does an excellent job of touching on the issues. Ageism, the ability to contribute, value and self-worth are all themes here. But. I was a tad disappointed with the development of many of the characters. All of them seemed to be somewhat guarded. I wanted more emotion. There was some, but certain situations called for more. There was a numbness to them. Perhaps that was intended, given their circumstances. Needless to say, I felt a bit detached from them.

Overall, I will still recommend it to anyone who enjoys dystopian fiction, because it was good, and well written, but it didn't leave me with the broad, sweeping. save the world feeling that I usually get from other novels like it.

posted by TiBookChatter on September 17, 2010

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  • Posted September 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Holmqvist creates a sterile, haunting tale that is surreal yet also a bit familiar.

    "The Unit" is deceptively pleasant. Picture a gorgeous resort, complete with spas, recreational facilities, gyms, pools, libraries, lots of restaurants to eat in and beautiful gardens. Add to that, well-appointed apartments and access to the best medical care. All of this for nothing. Well, not quite. As the residents live out their lives, they are subjected to medical experiments and research trials that include mind-altering drugs, rashes, painful skin ailments, or.organ donation if the Unit requires it. As you can imagine, some organ donations could mean the end of the line for the resident. They call this, the "final" donation and it gave me chills every time I came across the term.

    Although there are rules and 24-hour surveillance cameras, the residents grow accustomed to life in the Unit and actually begin to look forward to when they can once again be necessary and contribute whatever is needed to those on the outside. As Dorrit settles into her new life, she doesn't expect to find love so she is quite surprised when she does. This added element of complication, forces her to consider her options. None of which seem ideal.

    The Unit is highly stylized in the telling. As a reader, I found myself completely absorbed in the actual structure of the Unit itself. It seemed very modern, but not too far into the distant future which was a bit unsettling to me. The author paints a bleak, chilling tale yet everyone is pleasant.polite and even caring which is surprising in that cold, antiseptic environment. The residents and staff treat each other with great respect. They function for the good of society and all seem willing to contribute in their own way. It's frightening really. It's perfect in one sense but completely horrific in another.

    Holmqvist does an excellent job of touching on the issues. Ageism, the ability to contribute, value and self-worth are all themes here. But. I was a tad disappointed with the development of many of the characters. All of them seemed to be somewhat guarded. I wanted more emotion. There was some, but certain situations called for more. There was a numbness to them. Perhaps that was intended, given their circumstances. Needless to say, I felt a bit detached from them.

    Overall, I will still recommend it to anyone who enjoys dystopian fiction, because it was good, and well written, but it didn't leave me with the broad, sweeping. save the world feeling that I usually get from other novels like it.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Its good. Read it.

    The characters are well done and the plot is smooth and polished. To me the premise of the plot is not meant to be a possible future, but more a starting point for a question. For whatever reason, as the complete social picture outside the complex is not entirely expanded upon, the characters have accepted the fact that one will fulfill this obligation in the Unit once they are no longer useful to society. With that as an accepted obligation it really lets the author bring up the point of the individual over the group or the other way around? What is it that makes life important, to what lengths will one sacrifice and how will it hold meaning. These are a few of the things that ran through my mind while reading the book. Sometimes one must lose to win is another. But most of all is how important individual experience is. I enjoyed this book and I felt like I got to know a few people in the process.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 5, 2010

    What an intriguing book!

    This was one of New York Times' summer reading recommendations for 2009. I soon purchased after the list was published and read at a stretch. It discloses our modern era's implicit as well as explicit notion--childless people(especially women)= dispensable. About a few years ago, I heard in Japan there was a new slang "make-inu" translated in Japanese as "loser dog". This means you are a so-so successful female who has a fine career in late 30s/in 40s who is SINGLE and NO KIDS. Japanese society labels you as a loser. This book made me think about life. Very good plot.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2009

    Fascinating read

    A fascinating topic that was well executed and writing; leaving readers with no easy answer but an interesting philosophical question.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2009

    WOW!!

    The Unit is one of those books that is so scary because it could actually happen in the future. The writing style captured and held my attention from the first word to the last page. Some of the plot was predictable, but the author always managed to put an unforseeable spin or twist on it. Fantastic story that is somehow both chilling and heartwarming.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2013

    Soporific

    I just found this incredibly boring and unrealistic. If I didnt know better I would swear it was written by a man with a really strong dislike for women in general. Do NOT compare it in any way to A Handmaids Tale-- that would be a laughably transparent effort to sell a few more copies of this strange gruel.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2013

    Not a 5

    So, this was a interesting premise and quick read. It wasnt five star worthy but i didnt think i had wasted my time. One weird part where the character speaks to the reader threw me off a bit. If your looking for something between series you should give it a try.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2011

    Must read

    Great book!

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  • Posted April 5, 2011

    Different

    This book I read for a book club I am in. I would not have picked it myself, it was an okay read. But not sure I would recommend it highly.

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  • Posted September 11, 2010

    near future

    This was a great book book about the not so distant future regarding how we treat people who are dispensible based on whether they have children and career choices. It was plausible and interesting. It definitely sparked conversation with myself and my husband regarding and the possibility of how a society regards motherhood and aging how one contributes to said society. Very interesting and compelling read.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The Unit

    What an unusual book. The storyline made me think of an old movie with Edward G. Robinson. It's a page turner with a bit of romance, serious "could it really happen", character reality vs "just hoping" - I thoroughly enjoyed it. Every character was clearly defined and you kind of walked with them. I highly recommend it!

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  • Posted October 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The Unit

    This is most interesting book I have ever read. This will be one of my favorite books.

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  • Posted October 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    thought provoking

    Shades of Soylent Green, if you remember that movie. Almost everyones dream and nightmare all together in one. Everyone over 50 gets everything free; room and board,medical,clothes....even funeral expenses. So what's the down side? Your body parts. A little clinical in style but enjoyed this story that did a show a bit of a personal side.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2009

    Non-techie/trekie sci-fi

    Well writen, The Unit is sci-fi in the vein of 1984 and Farenheit 451 describing the (hopefully) most extreme result of government run health care. I'm sure the author didn't expect to be so topical when she wrote it.

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  • Posted June 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Holmqvist provides enough food for thought for an entire banquet.

    I have a "new pair of shoes" for you to try on. Close your eyes and picture yourself in these circumstances:

    You're either a female, aged fifty, or a male, aged sixty. You live alone. You are childless. You don't make much money, and you certainly don't have a job in any of the "important" industries. So what, you may ask? Well, if you fit this description, a nice van will come to pick you up and whisk you away to one of the climate-controlled Reserve Bank Units for biological material. There you will be given a very nice small apartment. You will have access to the best food, the best shops, the best exercise facilities, and you don't have to pay for any of it. Well, that's not quite true. You will be paying dearly for it.

    If you fit the description in the above paragraph, you have been termed "dispensable" by the government. You haven't contributed your fair share to society, and now is the time that you're expected to rectify your oversight. For the next few years, you will be taken care of, but you will also be expected to participate in medical and psychological experimentation, and you will donate your organs, a little bit at a time, until it's time for your "final donation".

    This is the situation that Dorrit Weger finds herself in at the beginning of The Unit, a powerful debut novel by Swedish author, Ninni Holmqvist. I felt claustrophobic from the start. As Dorrit explores her lovely new apartment, she notices cameras everywhere. Everywhere. The closets, the bathroom...everywhere. There are no windows in her apartment. No snail mail, no email, no text messages, no telephone calls. No Internet surfing without strict supervision. Many of the people in these Reserve Bank Units might seem familiar to anyone who surfs the Internet searching for reviews and reading book blogs:

    "Well, it's because there are so many intellectuals here. People who read books."

    "I see," I said again.

    "People who read books," he went on, "tend to be dispensable. Extremely."

    "Right," I said.

    "Yes," he said.



    Throughout the book, Holmqvist remains matter-of-fact. She tells her tale simply and doesn't try to make it into something it's not...and that's exactly what gives The Unit its mesmerizing, chilling power. There is much food for thought in the pages of this book. I'm still wondering if I could cope living in a society such as the one the author describes. Would I be willing to give up my freedom and shorten my life to live in the lap of luxury for a few years, knowing at the end that I will have helped many people by giving up parts of my body?

    I still don't know, and I'm still pondering Dorrit's behavior at book's end. As I said, there is much to think about during and after reading this haunting tale. If this is indicative of the type of story-telling Holmqvist has within her, I hope to read many more of her books in the future.

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  • Posted June 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great Read

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2010

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    Posted February 8, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2009

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