October 16, 2016

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist

The Unit follows Dorrit Weger starting at the moment she is checked into the Second Reserve Bank Unit to be used for her biological material.  The Unit takes in every man over 60 and women over 50 who are single, childless, and without scientifically progressive occupations.  They are sequestered in The Unit, which provides them with food, shelter, clothes, shopping, and many amenities while they are put through experimental drug testing and psychological experiments, made to donate blood and platelets, and have their organs harvested. They will be there until their "final donation," which results in death. We follow Dorrit as she tries to mentally survive The Unit. When she ends up falling in love, suddenly this life changes from "just how it is" to an unbearable burden.

I went through a lot of emotions reading this book.  I actually can't believe I had not heard of this one before, considering I do like reading about dystopian societies. I often feel dystopians have been oversaturated in the industry for a while, but I still like reading them, and have ever since I first read 1984 over a decade ago.

The Unit made me question so much, such as, what would I do if I was in Dorrit's place? It is easy to sit here in freedom and safety and judge her choices and decide what I would want and do myself. But we never truly know until we are in that situation.  I have no children of my ownIn our own society, I am often seen as strange for not wanting my own children, and am often judged. Especially since I love children.  I have just never had the desire to be pregnantIn the book's society, they have gone further than judging people and have declared that the childless are less worthy of living.  I am more expendable.  My working body parts are more useful transferred to an ill parent or a doctor or scientist. No one else is of any importance farther than the use of harvesting their bodies.  Can you imagine such a societyThat the only qualifications for the importance of a human being is the ability to procreate or the ability to further the advancement of life and procreation.  It is eugenicsAnd it is terrifying.

The Unit's society is very specific about gender roles, as well.  I have never been one to stick to any prescribed role so that was unsettling, too. I feel people should be able to live in whatever kind of role they see fitGender roles are very culture-specific.  Nature itself has a variety of gender roles that play out across the animal kingdom from male seahorses carrying the fertilized eggs in its own pouch instead of the female, to female praying mantis' killing the males as soon as they are done mating, to homosexual penguins, dolphins, giraffes, and more.  In the book's society the people have no freedom of choice.  Not only are their bodies not their own, but neither are they allowed their own ideas, desires, needs, or beliefs.

Thanks to Kristen for getting me to read this book. It reaffirmed for me how much I believe in personal freedoms, as long as what you are doing does not harm another person.   I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys dystopian novels, especially one from an adult perspective.

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