The Unit

( 52 )

Overview

"One day in early spring, Dorrit Weger is checked into the Second Reserve Bank Unit for biological material. She is promised a nicely furnished apartment inside the Unit, where she will make new friends, enjoy the state-of-the-art recreation facilities, and live the remaining days of her life in comfort with people who are just like her. Here, women over the age of fifty and men over sixty - single, childless, and without jobs in progressive industries - are sequestered for their final years; they are considered outsiders." "In the Unit they are

... See more details below
Paperback
$13.34
BN.com price
(Save 10%)$14.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (57) from $1.99   
  • New (16) from $2.22   
  • Used (41) from $1.99   
The Unit

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$4.99
BN.com price

Overview

"One day in early spring, Dorrit Weger is checked into the Second Reserve Bank Unit for biological material. She is promised a nicely furnished apartment inside the Unit, where she will make new friends, enjoy the state-of-the-art recreation facilities, and live the remaining days of her life in comfort with people who are just like her. Here, women over the age of fifty and men over sixty - single, childless, and without jobs in progressive industries - are sequestered for their final years; they are considered outsiders." "In the Unit they are expected to contribute themselves for drug and psychological testing, and ultimately donate their organs, little by little, until the final donation. Despite the ruthless nature of this practice, the ethos of this near-future society and the Unit is to take care of others, and Dorrit finds herself living under very pleasant conditions: well-housed, well-fed, and well-attended. She is resigned to her fate and discovers her days there to be rather consoling and peaceful. But when she meets a man inside the Unit and falls in love, the extraordinary becomes a reality and life suddenly turns unbearable. Dorrit is faced with compliance or escape, and ... well, then what?" The Unit is an exploration of a society in the throes of a system geared toward eliminating those who do not contribute by conventional means, in which the "dispensable" ones are convinced under gentle coercion of the importance of sacrificing for the "necessary" ones. It also looks deeply into the nature of the female psyche, at its resilience and creativity under dire conditions.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
A taut, surreal debut novel from Sweden, The Unit is a surprising celebration of love and life in the face of certain death. Dorrit Weger is a writer who has just turned 50. In middle age, without children, great professional success, or work in a necessary industry, she's considered "dispensable" and taken to live at the Second Reserve Unit for Biological Material. There she is expected to act as a human guinea pig, undergoing increasingly risky scientific experiments and donating her organs to "needed" members of society, until she makes her "final donation." But the world she enters is also a retreat from a world that has rejected those on the margins of society. In the "luxury slaughterhouse," Dorrit becomes part of a caring group of friends and even falls in love, causing her life to take an unexpected turn.

With a voice reminiscent of such disparate masters as Margaret Atwood and Ray Bradbury, Holmqvist has created a fascinating portrait of a stark society that cares only for its most productive members. The Unit explores how far society can go to shun those unwilling to conform, and how those exiled can create their own community of love and caring, even under the darkest of circumstances. (Fall 2009 Selection)
From the Publisher
Named one of the Best Novels of 2009 by the Wall Street Journal

Marcela Valdes, The Washington Post

“A haunting, deadpan tale set vaguely in the Scandinavian future…Holmqvist’s spare prose interweaves the Unit’s pleasures and cruelties with exquisite matter-of-factness…[Holmqvist] turns the screw, presenting a set of events so miraculous and abominable that they literally made me gasp.”

Jessa Crispin, NPR.org

“Echoing work by Marge Piercy and Margaret Atwood, The Unit is as thought-provoking as it is compulsively readable.”

The New Yorker

“This haunting first novel imagines a nation in which men and women who haven’t had children by a certain age are taken to a “reserve bank unit for biological material” and subjected to various physical and psychological experiments, while waiting to have their organs harvested for “needed” citizens in the outside world… Holmqvist evocatively details the experiences of a woman who falls in love with another resident, and at least momentarily attempts to escape her fate.”

Psychiatric Services
 
“Eerie, chilling, yet almost plausible…Holmqvist gives us a lesson in human nature and social engineering through a story that is spare, compelling, and all too human.”

TimeOut Chicago

“Holmqvist handles her dystopia with muted, subtle care...Neither satirical nor polemical, The Unit manages to express a fair degree of moral outrage without ever moralizing…it has enough spooks to make it a feminist, philosophical page-turner.”

Tim Gebhart, Blogcritics.org

The Unit raises issues of love, gender, freedom, and social mores through the perspective of how we assess an individual's contribution to society…Holmqvist's ability to invest the reader in both the story and the characters is exceptional. It is a book you hesitate to put down. In fact, I consumed it in the space of a couple separate sittings in less than a day…the book is reminiscent of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Yet to classify or judge it as a feminist work alone is unfair. It certainly surpasses Kazuo Ishiguro's widely praised Never Let Me Go…Hopefully, the fact this is a translated work and tends to be billed as feminist literature will not adversely affect the book's ability to make it to bookstore shelves. The Unit deserves a wide readership.”

Kelly Fitzpatrick, The Orlando Sentinel

“This is one of the best books I’ve read over the past two years...Thought-provoking and emotionally-moving, The Unit is a book you’ll be discussing with others long after you’re done reading it.”

Booklist

"Chilling…stunning…Holmqvist’s fluid, mesmerizing novel offers unnerving commentary on the way society devalues artistic creation while elevating procreation, and speculation on what it would be like if that was taken to an extreme. For Orwell and Huxley fans."

More Magazine

"Like Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, this novel imagines a chilling dystopia: single, childless, midlife women are considered dispensable. At 50 the narrator, Dorrit, is taken to a facility where non-vital organs will be harvested one by one for people more valued by society; she knows that eventually she’ll have to sacrifice something essential’ like her heart. Dorrit accepts her fate–until she falls in love and finds herself breaking the rules."

Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind

“…Holmqvist’s marvelous book doesn’t browbeat her thesis into the reader and smartly expands her ideas to look at the plight of all marginalized folk, women and men alike, and how the promise of comforts can be the most horrifying of all. Prepare to be disturbed, but prepare further to think about the ramifications.”

Kirkus Reviews

"Pricey shops that require no money. Gardens that trump Monet’ s. Creature comforts galore. But Swedish ace Holmqvist’s English-language debut soon discloses a catch. The shelf-life for inhabitants of this paradise is about six years. This is the Second Reserve Bank Unit, into which the State herds women 50 and up, and men 60 and over, to use for biological material. They’re fattened like calves, but there’s civic-duty payback: mandatory organ donation, culminating in the final “gift” of their lungs and hearts. Big Brother doesn’t take every oldster, just those termed “dispensables”: the cash-strapped, underachieving or, worst of all, childless. Dorrit Weger, freelance writer, dog-lover and free sprit, is initially mesmerized by her new surroundings. She feels a sense of community, a closeness never offered by Nils, the inadequate lover who would never leave his wife. And she takes pride in being needed when she’s enlisted in one of the Unit’s many medical experiments. It’s a benign investigation into the effects of exercise, but in the cafeteria and on the lush grounds Dorrit soon notices other campers sleepwalking like zombies or displaying weirdly blotched skin. As her roommates are ushered off one by one to their final donations, she panics into the arms of Johannes, a fellow Unit resident who actually manages to impregnate her. Dazzled by upcoming motherhood, Dorrit is certain her bulging belly will gain her freedom. Proven at last productive, she’s bound to be rewarded by the State….isn’t she? In her first novel, short-story writer Holmqvist echoes political-science treatises like Hobbes’ Leviathan and Rousseau’ s The Social Contract (gone decidedly mad here), as well as the usual dystopian novels from Brave New World to 1984. Orwellian horrors in a Xanadu on Xanax—creepily profound and most provocative."


Publishers Weekly

Swedish author Holmqvist's unconvincing debut, part of a wave of dystopias hitting this summer, is set in a near future where men and women deemed "dispensable"-those unattached, childless, employed in nonessential professions-are checked into reserve bank units for biological material and become organ donors and subjects of pharmaceutical and psychological experiments. When Dorrit Weger, who has lived her adult life isolated and on the brink of poverty, is admitted to the unit, she finds, to her surprise, comfort, friendship and love. Though the residents are under constant surveillance, their accommodations are luxurious, and in their shared plight they develop an intimacy rarely enjoyed in the outside world. But an unlikely development forces Dorrit to confront unexpected choices. Unfortunately, Holmqvist fails to fully sell the future she posits, and Dorrit's underdeveloped voice doesn't do much to convey the direness of her situation. Holmqvist's exploration of female desire, human need and the purpose of life has its moments, but the novel suffers in comparison with similar novels such as The Handmaid's Tale and Never Let Me Go. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Pricey shops that require no money. Gardens that trump Monet's. Creature comforts galore. But Swedish ace Holmqvist's English-language debut soon discloses a catch. The shelf-life for inhabitants of this paradise is about six years. This is the Second Reserve Bank Unit, into which the State herds women 50 and up, and men 60 and over, to use for biological material. They're fattened like calves, but there's civic-duty payback: mandatory organ donation, culminating in the final "gift" of their lungs and hearts. Big Brother doesn't take every oldster, just those termed "dispensables": the cash-strapped, underachieving or, worst of all, childless. Dorrit Weger, freelance writer, dog-lover and free sprit, is initially mesmerized by her new surroundings. She feels a sense of community, a closeness never offered by Nils, the inadequate lover who would never leave his wife. And she takes pride in being needed when she's enlisted in one of the Unit's many medical experiments. It's a benign investigation into the effects of exercise, but in the cafeteria and on the lush grounds Dorrit soon notices other campers sleepwalking like zombies or displaying weirdly blotched skin. As her roommates are ushered off one by one to their final donations, she panics into the arms of Johannes, a fellow Unit resident who actually manages to impregnate her. Dazzled by upcoming motherhood, Dorrit is certain her bulging belly will gain her freedom. Proven at last productive, she's bound to be rewarded by the State . . . .isn't she? In her first novel, short-story writer Holmqvist echoes political-science treatises like Hobbes' Leviathan and Rousseau's The Social Contract (gone decidedly mad here), as well as theusual dystopian novels from Brave New World to 1984. Orwellian horrors in a Xanadu on Xanax-creepily profound and most provocative. Agent: Magdelena Hedlund/Norstedts Agency
The Barnes & Noble Review
I live for the capital; that's a fact, isn't it? And the best I can do with this fact is to like the situation. To believe it's meaningful. Otherwise I can't believe it's meaningful to die for. Thus blusters Dorrit Weger, the narrator of Ninni Holmqvist's savagely dystopian debut novel. At the age of 50, childless and her family "scattered to the winds like a dandelion clock," Dorrit has been shuttled from her cluttered farmhouse on the coast of Sweden to a pristine research facility, which operates, as one friend puts it, like "a free-range pig farm." There, in a sprawling complex -- topped by a transparent atrium, open to the passing clouds and the drumbeat of the rain -- human beings are tested, dissected, and eventually killed, their organs donated to needy residents in the "community" outside the unit gates.

Holmqvist wrote The Unit in 2006 -- it appears in English belatedly, in a sturdy translation by Marlaine Delargy -- and although the book can be read as a study in futurism, à la William Gibson or Philip K. Dick, it is probably best understood as political allegory. Two thousand six was a monumental year in Swedish history: that fall, the long-reigning Social Democrats were swept out of power, and replaced by a right-leaning coalition led by Fredrik Reinfeldt. As one Swedish political scientist told the The New York Times, some felt that Stockholm had been "drifting," with the administration battered by soaring unemployment rates and the first pangs of the global recession. But few imagined how seismic the election would prove, how positively shattering its implications.

Over the past decade, Sweden, once a bastion of "moral supremacy," has tacked violently to the right, jettisoning along the way many of the vestiges of the socialist state. Pensions, healthcare, and public transportation are all now privatized, and in May 2009, the government began selling off state-owned pharmacies. Asked this year about the prospect of bailing out the Saab automotive plant in Trollhattan, an industrial city on the Göta Älv, the Swedish enterprise minister demurred. "The Swedish state is not prepared to own car factories," she announced. And no longer, she might have added, is the Swedish state prepared to own hospitals, schools, or banks.

Americans, raised in the tumult of the free-market system, are more or less reconciled to its strictures. We may occasionally rail against Wall Street's greed, but as a country, we trust in commoditization -- in "getting ahead," and in the self-made man. Not so for the Swedes, many of whom have greeted the arrival of the New Sweden with shock, and not a little nostalgia. In The Unit, which is staged in the near future, Holmqvist positions Dorrit as politically agnostic: "Every time the topic came up, in the media or with other people" Dorrit remembers, early on in the book, "I heaved a bored sigh."

Still, after a few months in the facility, when Dorrit finds herself bent over the limp body of a dying friend -- his liver recently removed, his heart still limping along -- she is apoplectic. "I wish I lived at the time when people still believed in the heart," she sobs. "When people still believed that the heart was the central organ, containing all the memories, emotions, capabilities, defects and other qualities that make us into specific individuals. I longed to go back to an age of ignorance, before the heart lost its status and was reduced to just one of a number of vital but replaceable organs."

"Replaceable" -- this horrific idea skitters through the pages of The Unit, like the needling fragment of a nightmare. Dorrit and her compatriots at the facility are viewed by the government as throwaways; because they are childless, and because no one depends on them, they have been pressed into service for the state. Most are creative types, artists and writers and designers who came to believe it was "a taboo to be, or even dream of being, emotionally or financially dependent on anyone, or to harbor even the tiniest secret desire to live in a symbiotic relationship with another person." For this independence, they have been rewarded, upon reaching late middle age -- 50 for women, 60 for men -- with a sentence of death. And not just execution but a slow, excruciating passing, where the body is poked and prodded and sliced apart over a multi-year period before it is finally consigned, without much fanfare, to the morgue.

"I suppose I used to believe my life belonged to me," Dorrit tells her psychologist at the Unit. "Something that was entirely at my disposal, something no one else had any claim on, or the right to have an opinion on. But I've changed my mind. I don't own my life at all. It's other people who own it." Urged on by the shrink, she continues: "Life is...a capital that is to be divided fairly among the people in a way that promotes reproduction and growth, welfare and democracy." She is only a "steward, taking care of my vital organs." This, Dorrit understands, constitutes her own biggest failure: successful human beings live for money and power. But she has lived only for herself. Now her body, so useless in life, will become in death a contribution to the progress of the state.

Holmqvist is remarkably deft at conveying the stages of self-mourning each patient experiences -- the initial shock, the passivity, the final burst of anger and disbelief -- despite a prose style that often verges on the desultory. (Dorrit: "Then I spread butter on a cracker, sliced some Port Salut and placed it on top. Ate -- still standing, but leaning against the counter facing the room. Chewed. The hard cracker crunching between my teeth... Then I remembered I had some tomatoes," etc., etc.) She doesn't waste more than a few lines on how the Unit came into existence -- something about a "debate," a "referendum" -- and once Dorrit is ensconced within the facility, the outside world flickers away. As in Kafka and Nabokov, this prison is made all the more frightening because it has no real history of its own; it is enough that it exists, and that there are people inside -- sweating, crying, dying.

A series of surprising developments do eventually provide Dorrit a modicum of hope, but they arrive late enough in the text that it would be a disservice to the reader to list them here. It is enough, I think, to say that Holmqvist, who puts no stock in modern politics, has plenty of faith in humanity. Under the white-washed eaves of the Unit, patients are encouraged to interact freely with one another: to swim in the pool; to lounge in a replicate of Monet's garden; to attend dances and gallery openings. It's only a Petri dish culture, of course, but it does much to dull the ache. Dorrit reconnects with a childhood friend, Elsa, and together, they whittle away the hours with remembrances. "This sort of talk," Dorrit thinks, "was calming, soothing. It was as if we were wrapped in a kind of cotton wool, insulating us from everything around us." Even in the thickest of darkness, Holmqvist hints, we are connected to one another by ephemeral threads.

It's no coincidence that the other great theme of The Unit is the power of witnessing -- of the petit immortality of the written word. Dorrit was a writer before coming to the facility, and ostensibly a pretty successful one; so too was Johannes, the man who eventually becomes her lover. Even as the rest of the Unit caves in around them, they sustain themselves through the act of documentation. They sleep together, and eat together, and edit one another -- Dorrit finishes a novel, among other writings, and Johannes, a collection of stories. Holmqvist clearly views these acts as sacred; they are paramount even to life itself -- a corrective to the rigidly capitalist state. Even The Unit itself is revealed, in its later pages, to be a kind of record of the facility for the people living outside its walls. As Johannes tells Dorrit, "Man is a collector, a fanatic when it comes to documentation. The only thing of real value is what we produce." --Matthew Shaer

Matthew Shaer is a contributor to the Barnes & Noble Review.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590513132
  • Publisher: Other Press, LLC
  • Publication date: 6/9/2009
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 774,886
  • Product dimensions: 5.56 (w) x 8.54 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Interviews & Essays

A Conversation with Ninni Holmqvist

The Unit is not set in the present, but its echoes of present-day issues are clear and ominous. Describe the world of The Unit.

The Unit is a dystopia set in a near future. It is about people who don't have any children or anyone else who loves them and need them, and who aren't useful to the society in any other way either. These people are called "dispensable," and they are picked up at their homes at a certain age (women at 50, men at 60) and taken to special units ("reservbanksenhet" in Swedish) for biological material. They are supposed to serve society through participating in various tests (like animal testing but done on people) and also, eventually, by donating organs to needed citizens -- the ones who produce and raise children, the ones who contribute to economic growth -- that are afflicted with severe illnesses and need organs from healthy bodies to survive. Dorrit Weger, who just turned 50, is one of those dispensable. She is a writer, childless, quite poor, and lives alone with her dog. The story begins with her arrival at the unit, an establishment/institution she immediately finds a lot more comfortable and human and loving and beautiful than she ever could have expected.

The Unit raises a number of complex -- and sometimes disturbing -- ethical questions. Do you see the novel as having a central moral theme?

The book is above all written as a critique of society and the way political leaders today see everything in figures and numbers. But my aim was also to raise questions like: What is freedom? What is human dignity? How do we humans value our selves and each other? But The Unit is also very much a story about love (Dorrit meets the love of her life at the unit, a man called Johannes, and she also, miraculously, gets pregnant) and friendship and loyalty.

Whom did you write The Unit for? Did you have someone -- personally, or in society -- that you intended the story for?

My intention was that it is for everyone. But I guess it might especially appeal to middle-aged single people, childless ones. But also people that are or are close to other categories of "dispensable" people: disabled people, for instance, longtime unemployed persons, culture workers. And people who are critical of capitalism and economism. Perhaps also people who don't mind being provoked.
Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

1. Dorrit can be described as very obedient. She submits to her fate by going to The Unit without protest and does not seem naturally inclined to buck authority. What personality traits or life circumstances do you think causes a person to be obedient? Conversely, what leads one to question the rules of the establishment? Are you the type to question or accept the status quo? What do you think makes you that way?

2. In The Unit, the residents are surrounded by luxuries they did not know in their former lives outside. The food is abundant, fresh, and masterfully prepared and presented. Their apartments are comfortable and well-appointed. They have access state-of-the-art exercise facilities, and can shop in lovely boutiques in exchange for no money whatsoever. How do you see the availability these creature comforts to the indispensables? As perks? Mere distractions? How is this different from the meaning you might attach to these things in your own life?

3. Although she was content, owned a home with a garden, had a dog she loved, and a love affair with Nils, Dorrit was deemed by the state to be dispensable. To whom or to what was Dorrit's presence necessary? What determines one's worth? In order for our lives to have meaning, do you feel that we must make a contribution to greater society?

4. Dorrit comes from a big family--she was one of five children. And yet she describes them as being "scattered to the winds like a dandelion clock." What caused her family to become so disconnected? In thinking about your own life, what things do you do to maintain a family bond? What significance does family hold for you?

5. Dorrit finds more love and companionship, in the Unit than she ever did in her former life. Why do you suppose intimacy comes easier to her in The Unit? Do you think she ever would have developed deep friendships outside? Why or why not?

6. There are many gifted artists in residence at The Unit. Dorrit's writing comes much easier to her there than it did at home. What is it about The Unit that enables such creativity to come to the fore?

7. Dorrit was raised in the time before the laws about organ donations and indispensables were enacted, in the post-women's lib era when independence was encouraged and valued. Dorrit's mother, having raised five children and seeing the possibilities that lay before her three daughters, discourages them from getting "caught in a trap" by a having children and getting married. Yet these women live to see values shift once again to the point where a woman's life is only of value if she is a mother. How is Dorrit a product of her time but also trapped by it? Discuss the paradox of being a feminist in a society where your life only has meaning if you provide for others.

8. Why do you think that, despite their closeness and Dorrit's pregnancy, Johannes makes his final donation without consulting Dorrit and without saying goodbye in a deliberate way? In what ways is this decision selfish? Selfless? Do you think Johannes did the right thing? Why or why not?

9. Why does Dorrit abandon her escape attempt and return to The Unit? What would you have done?

10. Several times over the course of the novel, the society is referred to as a democracy. In what sense is it a fully democratic society? Are the people in the wider community truly free? What freedoms are afforded to the dispensables?

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 52 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(18)

4 Star

(18)

3 Star

(10)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(2)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 52 Customer Reviews
  • 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.

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

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

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

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

    Posted September 5, 2011

    Must read

    Great book!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Posted January 23, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 52 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)