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The Unit

The Unit [Kindle Edition]

Ninni Holmqvist , Marlaine Delargy
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)

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Product Description


What a striking, remarkable book - one of the best I've read in a long time. --Frank Huyler, author of Right of Thirst and The Laws of Invisible Things

Product 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?

THE UNIT is a gripping exploration of a society in the throes of an experiment, in which the “dispensable” ones are convinced under gentle coercion of the importance of sacrificing for the “necessary” ones. Ninni Holmqvist has created a debut novel of humor, sorrow, and rage about love, the close bonds of friendship, and about a cynical, utilitarian way of thinking disguised as care.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 352 KB
  • Print Length: 273 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1590513134
  • Publisher: Other Press (9 Jun 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002CFQ6UO
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #164,473 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Allegorical story with a haunting impact 28 May 2010
By Maxine Clarke VINE VOICE
Translated by Marlaine Delargy.

The Unit is the first novel by Ninni Holmqvist, a translator who has previously published three collections of short stories. It is superb: assured, measured, controlled, human and written in that deceptively simple, easy-reading style that draws the reader into very dark depths without consciously being aware of the direction.

The bare bones of the plot are straightforward. Dorrit, a single woman aged about 50, finds herself institutionalised - voluntarily but in a sinister fashion. The titular unit is a pleasant place in which to live, with landscaped gardens, library, art gallery and many other facilities, although all the residents are under constant surveillance.

Although it isn't hard to guess the purpose of the unit, the way in which the nightmare gradually unfolds is brilliantly told. There are no dramatics or exciting set-pieces, and because we see everything from the point of view of the residents rather than the staff, and hence in human and emotional terms, the impact of the fate of Dorrit's circle of friends is poignant.

Like all good novels, there are layers of allegory. The people who live in the unit are childless, therefore in their previous lives have tended to devote their energies towards creative, intellectual pursuits. The unit is therefore full of authors, artists, and others who are continuing to contribute constructively to society in the hope that their work will be preserved for the future. There are many understated themes running through the novel - satire, social comment, ethics and so on.

The Unit shares its main elements with all good books.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is this the future? 16 Oct 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Unfortunately, this book shares its title with the American television series of the same name so just typing the title into amazon's search engine doesn't bring up the book on the first three pages of searching. This is, I believe, a failure on amazon's part to get books of the same name to also appear on the first page or two. Hope amazon reads this and takes note.
This is a wonderful book in it's writing and translation. No excess words yet everything is described perfectly to give you the sleek Scandinavian feel. Just how many ways can language be stripped to its essentials to make it almost perfectly expressive? The topic is timely yet terrifying if you are anywhere near the age of 50. It cuts too close to the bone to make it comfortable given today's growing tendency to see older persons as dispensible. And that is precisely what this book deals with - the dispensibility of persons and the harvesting of organs plus almost Nazi-like experimentation on single, childless men and women once they reach the age of 50.
This is a great book and should scare the living daylights out of you. A parable for our time? Maybe. But certainly well worth reading and sharing with all the older folks in your life. Don't share it with young people though. We don't want to give them any ideas about our future, do we?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hauntingly beautiful 13 Feb 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
One of my favourite dystopian novels is Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and The Unit echoes some of the former's darker themes. However it differs in that there appears to be less smoke and mirrors in the Swedish setting and it is thus a very different creature and a very thought provoking one at that.

The story begins with our narrator, Dorrit, a 50 year old single woman, going to the Second Reserve Bank Unit for Biological Material. In the Unit, her new "home", she leads a comfortable life, sheltered from the pressures of the outside world. Residents can swim, relax in the sauna, go to the theatre, visit art exhibitions - quite a wide and varied lifestyle considering they are not allowed to ever leave the unit or contact friends or family.

Yes, folks, this is Scandinavia but not as we know it - not crime fiction and craggy investigators as this is all legal and above board. Dorrit is one of the "dispensables", those unfortunate childless/single/gay folk who haven't made a meaningful contribution to society by the age of 50 for women, 60 for men (fertility rules!). Dorrit is an author, a creative type like most of her fellow inmates, whose artistic legacy isn't highly valued by the current regime.

So, how can the dispensables give something back to society? The solution is quite straightforward, for starters a kidney, then perhaps a cornea, followed by a liver section all leading up to the piece de resistance, the final donation.

What is more disturbing than all the experiments and organ donations, is the meek acquiesence and acceptance of Dorrit and her fellow dispensables - don't expect any fireworks in the form of revolution, the atmosphere is distinctly Stepford Wives.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delete your Goodreads account now 10 July 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'm a huge fan of dystopian literature and, as the cover recommends, really enjoy a good Orwell or Huxley novel, and this book by a novelist who is new to me, was just so fantastic, I sat down to read it and devoured it in three sittings. In fact, it was one of those books where I just didn't want it to end, I was enjoying it so much.

I loved the characters who, as the lead characters in the story, were original in that it was older adults who were cast as the heroes and heroines, who fell in love and found new approaches to life (and death) in the unit. It made me think about my perceptions of older people. In fact, it made me think a lot about my perceptions of people as a whole; of how people perceive us and how we perceive ourselves. It made me think about the people I live with in my own neighbourhood and how some of them clearly think they are better than me and, how, sometimes I'm thinking I'm better than them. In short, it made me think about how people are valued and who we perceive to be valueless in our society, and exactly what right we have to do this. Initially in the story, it is people who have worked in trade industries/menial roles and also those who worked as artists who are the valueless ones. However, the Unit was brilliant as dystopian fiction in that as the number of "dispensable" people began to run out for organ donation/medical research, the goalposts were shifted by those in power and previously needed people became suddenly dispensable to suit the needs of the ruling classes. Suddenly those in "useful" roles such as nurses, etc, are able to be scrapped. Also, some of the "research" which is being carried out is quite clearly pointless and just killing people for the sake of it.

Dorrit was such a good character.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
Thought provoking and riveting read from start to finish. I recommend this to any one that likes to read something a bit different
Published 1 month ago by SHARON LUNNON
5.0 out of 5 stars The Unit
I loved this story. It was quite chilling in parts however it was quite imaginable when looking into the future. I would love to read something else the same author.
Published 1 month ago by Pauline Westbury
5.0 out of 5 stars outstanding
so refreshing to read a book which genuinely takes you out of your comfort zone and transports you into another kind of existence, which is quite futuristic and feasible. Read more
Published 7 months ago by emel
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Echoes of Never Let Me Go but somehow, worryingly even more believable... Beautifully written, hauntingly possible in ways you don't want to consider...
Published 8 months ago by C Thomas
4.0 out of 5 stars An impressive debut novel which loses its way towards the end
Ninni Holmqvist's dystopian debut novel was published in 2010 in an English translation by Marlaine Delargy. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Dr R
3.0 out of 5 stars Another view of the future
I would say the story shows a future that would not be likely, but who cares. An interesting enough read.
Published 9 months ago by Patricia
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
Impressive story, loved the writing style.
Very easy for me to relate to someone who do not want to fit in and end up in a situation where she might have to pay the price for... Read more
Published 9 months ago by CelineBlx
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing after a promising start
I have been reading great reviews for this book for a few years now and final got round to reading it on my holidays this year. I'm really sad to say it was quite a disappointment. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Manda Moo
5.0 out of 5 stars an unnerving read
I have read books with similar themes but this one hit the spot. Oh I so wanted the end to be different!
Published 9 months ago by teepee
3.0 out of 5 stars easy, interesting read
A bit unbelievable but still quite a gripping read. Enjoyed it and would recommend for a quick and easy read.
Published 10 months ago by V. Paterson
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Popular Highlights

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“People who read books,” he went on, “tend to be dispensable. Extremely.” &quote;
Highlighted by 73 Kindle users
What’s the point in putting all your energy into being better than other people at just one thing, which is in fact completely irrelevant? &quote;
Highlighted by 58 Kindle users
Life and existence have no value in themselves. We mean nothing; not even those who are needed mean anything. The only thing of any real value is what we produce. Or to put it more accurately: the fact that we do produce something—exactly what it is that we produce is actually of lesser importance, as long as it can be sold or archived. Or preferably both.” &quote;
Highlighted by 56 Kindle users

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