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The Unit (2006)

by Ninni Holmqvist

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
93410216,641 (3.76)1 / 82
  'I liked The Unit very much... I know you will be riveted, as I was.' Margaret Atwood 'Echoing work by Marge Piercy and Margaret Atwood, The Unit is as thought-provoking as it is compulsively readable.' Jessica Crispin, NPR.org  Ninni Holmqvist's eerie dystopian novel envisions a society in the not-so-distant future where men and women deemed economically worthless are sent to a retirement community called the Unit. With lavish apartments set amongst beautiful gardens and state-of-the-art facilities, elaborate gourmet meals, and wonderful music and art, they are free of financial worries and want for nothing. It's an idyllic place, but there's a catch: the residents - known as dispensables - must donate their organs, one by one, until the final donation. When Dorrit Weger arrives at the Unit, she resigns herself to this fate, seeking only peace in her final days. But she soon falls in love, and this unexpected, improbable happiness throws the future into doubt.   Clinical and haunting, The Unit is a modern-day classic and a spine-chilling cautionary tale about the value of human life.… (more)
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» See also 82 mentions

English (100)  Swedish (4)  All languages (104)
Showing 1-5 of 100 (next | show all)
Absolutely wonderful. Perfect balance of descriptive and straightforward writing. I really liked the first-person narrative so that Dorrit's inner life and emotions were explored so intimately. I loved her as character and all of the secondary characters as well. Holmqvist paints a bleak, dystopian world that is still filled with beauty and complex emotions. This is definitely a controversial subject but the book explores it quite nicely. ( )
  JustZelma | Dec 20, 2020 |
Quite a quiet book, a dystopia that's not chronicling a huge change. Something very believable, done in a very effective way. Beautiful translation. ( )
  MaximusStripus | Jul 7, 2020 |
Imagine a world where, if you don't have an exceptional career or children by 50 (for women) or 60 (for men), you're deemed dispensable and taken to a special unit. In this unit, you will have all the amenities you can imagine, galleries, zen parks, access to all sorts of fitness activities and gourmet food. However, you will give back to society by participating in health experiments and donating your organs, one by one, until the final donation.
The setup is fantastic, even though it's impossible not to subconsciously compare this to Never Let Me Go. However, these people are not clones (if that makes any difference), and they willingly accept their fate. Or so it seems.
The main character is not very likeable or even relatable. Maybe a little bit more so as the plot proceeds.
I didn't like the writing style (could be the translation, though) and found myself skipping descriptive passages towards the end.
Overall, this was a great setting, but the characters and the plot were a missed opportunity for the most part. Still glad I read it. ( )
  ZeljanaMaricFerli | Feb 20, 2020 |
In a world that worships youth, children and productivity, this book is on target. The subject matter is different from Never Let Me Go - The only similarity is that humans are used for parts. As an over-fifty woman with no children and great love for my pets, I identified heavily with Dorrit. She expressed many things that I've felt about society and my role in it. We women over 50 become invisible unless we yell and scream. But when we yell and scream, we're told that it is inappropriate and desperate. Our lack of youth and lack of children invalidates us and breaks our will.

It's unsurprising that I found myself sobbing many times during the story. Heck, I'm crying now. ( )
  authenticjoy | Mar 29, 2019 |
I do not know what I expected from this book, but it is certainly a wringer. The society is depicted in full and the narrator's unapologetic pre-feminist longings are refreshing if a little absurd. The book certainly struck a chord in me about the question of the value of individual human lives.

'The Unit' is sad, sometimes funny, but mostly - frightening. ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 100 (next | show all)
Holmqvist's spare prose interweaves the Unit's pleasures and cruelties with exquisite matter-of-factness, so that readers actually begin to wonder: On balance, is life better as a pampered lab bunny or as a lonely indigent? But then she turns the screw, presenting a set of events so miraculous and abominable that they literally made me gasp.
 

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ninni Holmqvistprimary authorall editionscalculated
Delargy, MarlaineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It was more comfortable than I could have imagined.
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People who read books tend to be dispensable.  Extremely.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

  'I liked The Unit very much... I know you will be riveted, as I was.' Margaret Atwood 'Echoing work by Marge Piercy and Margaret Atwood, The Unit is as thought-provoking as it is compulsively readable.' Jessica Crispin, NPR.org  Ninni Holmqvist's eerie dystopian novel envisions a society in the not-so-distant future where men and women deemed economically worthless are sent to a retirement community called the Unit. With lavish apartments set amongst beautiful gardens and state-of-the-art facilities, elaborate gourmet meals, and wonderful music and art, they are free of financial worries and want for nothing. It's an idyllic place, but there's a catch: the residents - known as dispensables - must donate their organs, one by one, until the final donation. When Dorrit Weger arrives at the Unit, she resigns herself to this fate, seeking only peace in her final days. But she soon falls in love, and this unexpected, improbable happiness throws the future into doubt.   Clinical and haunting, The Unit is a modern-day classic and a spine-chilling cautionary tale about the value of human life.

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Book description
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 few 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 few 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?
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