Saturday, November 7, 2009
The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist is compelling and disturbing. For days after I finished reading The Unit I couldn't shake the feelings it left behind. From the first turn of the page I was drawn into the world of Dorrit Weger and her life in the Second Reserve Bank Unit for Biological Material, or The Unit for short.
In Dorrit's world at the age of 50 all childless women and all childless men at age 60 are "welcomed" into The Unit... The luxurious spa like place where the weather is always beautiful, there are beautiful gardens, amazing food, entertainment, medical experiments and vital organ harvesting...
This futuristic world seems so "normal" at first. Our protagonist is an independent woman and writer, living in a dilapidated home that she owns with her loyal dog Jock. She never felt the need to become a mother, and as society changed Dorrit was nearing 50 and it was too late... So she gave her up her home, her best friend Jock, and her independence as she became one of the "dispensables" of her society and took 'the ride' to The Unit at age 50.
The Unit is at both a haven and a hell. Dorrit and the people around her feel a close bond, and these undesirables find a place where they fit in. Deep friendships and love is found, as people go thru medical experiments & surgeries. Ninni Holmqvist makes you feel these deep friendships! You want Dorrit and the others in The Unit to realize they are worth more than their body parts! You want them to survive! But there's always the final "donation" lurking around the corner...
What makes a person a contributing member to society? Who is to say whether a person is dispensable? How does motherhood define who we are? What makes a person give up on life?. How did this futuristic world become what it was? There are lots of questions to ask as you are turning those pages. And here is a Reading Group Discussion Guide! This would make a great Book Club selection. And is my pick for November's Reading Group Pick!
Sad, disturbing, heartfelt, and at times humorous, The Unit is a book that will haunt you after the last page... How can you say a dystopian society that takes childless people away and harvests their body parts is a good read? Something must be said when a story stays with you way after you've put the book down... Put this on your list of must read books of the year, because the writing of Ninni Holmqvist is engaging and worth every moment you're reading.