The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist
Sometime in the near future the government has devised a way for all members of society to contribute. Generally speaking, one is either doing an important job, raising a family, or participating in a loving and committed relationship. If you are not doing any of these things, you aren’t contributing to society and need to do so. Luckily, the state has a solution for that too. Women over 50 and men over 60 who do not participate in one of the ways outlined above will be sent to a Reserve Bank Unit for biological material.
The Second Reserve Bank Unit is where Dorrit Weger finds herself being taken at the beginning of “The Unit.” While she is there, she will participate in medical and psychological tests, in addition to donating organs to more ‘needed’ people. The lifespan of someone at the unit is around 5 years as eventually everyone is called upon to make a final donation, one that will end their life, at which point the rest of their biological material will simply be banked until it is needed.
The unit is a strange place. On one hand, people are essentially being treated as human chattel, there for the medical benefit of others. On the other hand, those in the unit are taken care of remarkably well and live what is a pretty good life in the short-term. The worst part of life in the unit is not the testing, it is growing close to others there then losing them to their final donation.
I really enjoyed “The Unit.” Holmqvist has created a really interesting dystopian world. Most dystopian worlds, at least the ones I’ve read about, seem to clearly emanate from our current world, but seem reasonably far in the future. Not so in “The Unit.” This world seems exactly as ours, except for the fact that those who do not ‘contribute’ are sent to contribute in other ways. This increased both how eerie and how interesting I found the book.
This is one I definitely recommend to anyone at all interested in dystopian literature.