Tuesday, June 23, 2009
UNIT by Ninni Holmqvist
I first heard about THE UNIT through a book talk session for librarians and knew I had to read it.
Dorrit Weger has created a simply but pleasant life for herself with a small home, a devoted dog and a lover. But everything changes on the day of her fiftieth birthday. Dorrit is required by law to check into a Reserve Bank for Biological Material. She will spend the rest of her days being cared for by the state and in exchange she will participate in "humane" experiments and donate biological material until the day of her final donation.
In this not-so-distant future, individuals without jobs deemed absolutely necessary by the state or those without children are sent to these reserve banks at the time of their 50th birthday for women and 60th birthday for men. They are considered "dispensible." The Unit itself offers every comfort imaginable. Every need is taken care of and the facilities themselves offer the dispensible population every possible luxury. However, the average life span of the residents upon entering is four years.
The complacency of the individuals is probably the most shocking. The reader is left to wonder why people would accept their fate so easily. While the individuals in the story struggle with great depression and sadness, they largely simply accept what is going on. Dorrit herself makes a number of close relationships that she never would have had in the outside world. While she is there, life becomes more precious than ever.
BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. This is a quick and engrossing read. The ending will take some readers by surprise. The book is thought-provoking if frustrating and leaves the reader wanting to discuss the themes and story further.