Friday, September 10, 2010

Review by Shellie: The Unit ~ by Ninni Holmqvist

A translated novel set in a futuristic and twisted democracy, it borders on horror with a realistic feel making it all the more terrifying.

Set Up:  A story taking place in Sweden at some undisclosed time in the future, where there has developed a truly warped social system.

The main character is a single women turning fifty. She has no family connections and is struggling financially. Dorit is required to enter a governmentally mandated enclave called “the unit”.  A place where all persons – men of sixty years and women of fifty - move to if they are deemed “dispensable”. That is if they do not have anything which is considered of economic value to give. In turn they live a life of luxury yet must submit to medical testing and donate vital organs.

My Thoughts:  I really enjoy dystopian novels and this one appeared to have an unusual twist with a character to whom I could easily relate – a middle aged women with bohemian tendencies. There are a number of things that I liked about the book.

It felt like a translation and I love translations. You can explore the locale and psyche of another country through the text with its unusual language nuances. This book was no exception with its lovely description of the local plants, landscape, and weather, as well as subtle differences in its cultural perspective.

There is a secondary plot line which could be described as a romance. I particularly liked that the few unusual sex scenes included are not like your standard fare, which I usually skip over or laugh at.

There are a few political topics which come up in the novel such as ageism and a subtly twisted version of feminism, which make for great for discussion topics.

The novels I enjoy the most leave me with questions, and The Unit poses a few good ones. What kind of a democracy would value economic growth so much that it would sacrifice its older members? Is the nature of democracy only about growth?  How could a political system purportedly concerned with freedom develop like the one which is represented in this book? 

A fairly short novel it starts out slowly yet picks up considerably where it becomes both illuminating and heart wrenching. It summarizes a few subtle elements of human experience in enlightening and relatable ways. And the best part is that it was just plain scary. It is because of these things it will be placed in my favorite’s list - on balance 4.5 stars.

  • The Unit
  • by Ninni Holmqvist  (translated by Marlaine Delargy)
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Other Press (June 9, 2009)

Amazon purchasing links for US/UK/Canada.


For more information about the author, translator, The Unit, and other titles please link to the publisher - Other Press.

This particular book was read in digital format and rented from our local library. It is my second novel published by Other Press.  I have enjoyed both immensely.  A Map of Home by Rhanda Jarrar was the first.  John also highly recommends Mitchell Kaplan’s By Fire, By Water which is also published by this small press.

This novel will be included in the following challenges: Woman Unbound, The Speculative Fiction Challenge, The 42, New Author Challenge, and The Basics.

We love Fridays – Have a great weekend! 


Anna said...

I like that it was scary in a way that didn't involve graphic violence. Just sitting there and pondering this world Dorrit lived in freaked me out. It does give you a lot to think about.

Unknown said...

Anna -
I noticed you loved this book too.

I was thinking at first this is a decent book... but then it got really really good. The ending was excellent.

There was some graphic medical stuff which was really creepy though....I liked that... some violence doesn't hit you over the head but its there....

Thanks for commenting your new blog is looking and feeling great!

Jenny said...

I've had this one on my TBR for a while... it sounds great! I feel like most dystopians I've read are terrifying! LOL

Blodeuedd said...

Been wanting to read this one ever since I saw it on Anna's blog :)

Unknown said...

Jenny -
I am thinking that is probably why I like them...

I have wanted to read this for a while too. I thought our trip would be great, and the book only lasts for two weeks on an ereader. Kind of a forced read.

I will be looking out for your thoughts on it. I am thinking you will like it.

Unknown said...

Blodeudd -
Shes right its a great book.

I don't remember where I saw it first. I found it when I first started blogging and was so overwhelmed I can't remember.

I will be curious as to what you think about it as well. I think you may really love it.

ThePageTurner said...

Another one for the TBR pile!

Unknown said...

Rose -
Such problems.
If I am swamped you must be buried

I loved this book... but I am wondering if you will like it as much as I did. I am not sure if you will.

Its not that long so not much of a commitment. You should be able to get it at the library.

I will be curious as to what you think. :)

Simcha said...

I read this book earlier in the year and enjoyed it though I was really bothered by some of the decisions the characters made, which made little sense to me. I also couldn't believe that if such a law were in place, that people would allow themselves to read the age of 50 without getting married. Anyhow, these were just a few of the issues that were nagging at me after I finished the book and prevented me from whole heartedly loving it.

Unknown said...

Simcha -
*spoiler alert*

I think I recall you having issues with a few things in the book, and do understand. I sometimes think that way about women in abusive situations...or addicts. tuff luv...

I guess when you take a look at history and governmental subjugation like this its done so slowly that the citizens become accustomed to it..... people turn a blind eye. Afraid. We can easily say that about the victims of any kind of Holocaust.

As for getting married sometimes there is no one that will marry you especially if your not considered of child bearing age. Which was very important in this dystopian...

Can you imagine trying to get out of a crazy country that is frozen in winter while being pregnant and no where to go.... so so scary.

I did love the ending.

Thanks for stopping by. Its great to discuss stuff like this.

I hope you had a nice vacation. :)

Sarah M said...

This does sound good. Thanks for suggesting it, I'll be adding it to my wishlist now.

Unknown said...

Sarah -
I hope you like it as much as I did... will look for your review.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...