Literary Quote of the Month

“For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences,” … Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist... A Review


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.

12 comments:

La Coccinelle said...

This sounds like a very thought-provoking read.

Suzanne said...

Hi La Coccinelle,
This really is one of those kind of books. A good friend of mine insisted that I read this because it was so good... Well it was really good, but not because it was a "happy" story, but a haunting one... I would highly recommend this book

Book pusher said...

I always find stories like this leave me feeling a profound sense of sadness, they are very discomforting, Never Let Me Go, had that effect and many years ago reading The Handmaids Tale also left me feeling quite depressed. Dystopia novels are never comfortable reads but they so often have important things to say, this book certainly sounds like it has much to say.

Heidi V said...

I'm going to be taking a road trip this might be a great read for that! Thank you for the recommendation...

stpand said...

It's been over a month since I finished reading "The Unit" and I still find myself thinking about it from time to time. It would be a great book for book club discussions!

Suzanne said...

Hi Book pusher!
You are so correct in calling this type of book discomforting, because that is exactly how I felt. Of course I still have Never Let Me Go to read and I actually have a copy of The Handmaids Tale, which is one of many Dystopian tales from that author! I have her new book to read too! But even though these are rather depressing they do create a wonderful discussion!

Hi Heidi!
Where are you going?! You may want something cheerier though! :D Enjoy the trip!

Hi stpand!
Thanks for lending me this book! It would definitely make a great book club selection! And I still think about it even now and it's been a few books since I've read it....

Jess - A Book Hoarder said...

This sounds like such an interesting book, I am adding it to my wish list right now.

You have read some great books, I can't wait to see what you post about next.

Diane said...

I've read so many great reviews, including yours, about this book. I hope to get a copy at some point; thanks for the review.

Beth said...

Being a 50+ childless woman, I'm afraid to read this one! It does sound fascinating and I probably will read it. Funny, I find it discomforting even trying to decide if I want to read it. If a book has that much impact BEFORE reading it ... it seems like a must read to me!

Suzanne said...

Hi Jess!
Definitely put this book on your TBR list! It was disturbing but absorbing at the same time! I can almost say it was the best book I read this year.

Suzanne said...

Hi Diane,
Yes, my friend Steve MADE me read this book. I'm so glad he did! And now I think I will buy my own copy because it's the kind of book I'll probably go back to and read again.

Suzanne said...

Hi Bethie!
Yes, it was a bit disturbing that Steve gave me this book very near my birthday! And without children I all sorts of escape scenarios were going thru my head!

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