The Unit is the saddest piece of dystopian fiction I have ever read. Normally the genre leaves me angry or frightened or feeling the need for a good shower, but this made me feel heartbroken. The Unit is a place where women who have reached the age of 50 and men who have reached the age of 60 without having children are sent to live in order to participate in “humane” experiments and act as organ donors for the so-called needed. These people are known as dispensable.
The story portrayed is one where these people are provided a life of complete luxury with no cost to themselves, but also have no freedom to leave, no rights to privacy, and are compelled to participate in whatever experiments and physical sacrifices required of them. Psychology is used to great effect to keep them happy. Eventually they all go for their “final donation,” the surgery in which all of their vital organs are harvested for the benefit of needed people. Ninni Holmqvist paints a painful picture of people who feel they have failed and never found love, of people who have always been lonely, being thrust into proximity, finding love or friendship, then constantly losing those people to the demands of the Unit. This book disturbed me greatly and will stay with me for some time.