2015 Reading Challenge, Book 23: The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist

This book is set in a future within which women at age 50 and men at age 60 are given two choices if childless or in a dispensible profession: euthanise yourself, or enter The Unit. In The Unit, every possible comfort is provided, but only the healthy can go in as the payment for this comfort (which you have no need to pay for) is the donation of organs etc to those in the outside world who may need them and participation in all manner of research testing.

The novel’s protagonist Dorrit Weger chooses The Unit. Therein she finds friendship and acceptance beyond anything she’s known, and also finds love. But of course, this being essentially a biological bank, you get to watch all these wonderful friends gradually sicken or fall apart mentally. Then Dorrit discovers she’s pregnant, but her choices are very different to the choices she’d get outside The Unit.

This is a beautifully realised, heart-rending story exploring what happens if you take the devaluing of age to possible future conclusions. It questions the idea of valuing someone only for the services they can provide to everyone else, never suggesting that we all be selfish but to perhaps suggest a gentler way of judging worthiness. Because none of the people in The Unit have nothing left to give. They are all vibrant, interesting people, rich with intelligence and creativity.

An incredible, emotional read and one I would highly recommend.

You can buy this book in the UK here

And in the US here

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