17 comments on “The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist | Book Review

  1. I considered reading this when I first heard about it, but it sounded so derivative of Never Let Me Go (as Ishiguro’s book was only published a year earlier, maybe this is an unfortunate coincidence)

    • I thought the very same when I first heard about it. The comparisons in the setup are undeniable, but narratively they do follow a pretty different path. Given the publication timeline, I suspect it is indeed an unfortunate coincidence.

  2. Although this book has me intrigued — and I see how it might be an interesting companion novel to Convenience Store Woman! — I wonder if readers get hung up on plot holes, such as how single people are oftentimes single because they’re caring for an aging parent, disabled sibling, or strangers in a group home, all work that is not considered prestigious or a “success” (you don’t need a degree or education to work in such institutions; I know, I’ve done it). Also, is there no value in caring for animals? Was it a problem that she had one dog instead of working at an animal shelter, for example? I have so many questions! Thank you for making me think about the thankless work people who are often single do.

    • That’s very much a point the book is making. The situation is obviously exaggerated, but she’s highlighting the hypocrisy of society’s emphasis on parental and romantic bonds over platonic but equally important relationships.

      • One thing I like about a book like Brave New World is that opening chapter in which the whole world is explained in a way that lets readers know why things are so draconian. Basically, here’s how it’s different and why. If I don’t get some sense of that, a book feels like it’s skipping the obviously hard stuff. For example, in the last several years many books are set in the 80s or a location out of cell phone/internet reach. The technology made things inconvenient for writers. As much as people complain about phones controlling us, they sure solve loads of problems and help us, too.

        • That early context can be great, and it works well in some books, but in others I think it can feel like an info dump. Some books benefit hugely from allowing the reader to uncover the particulars of the worldbuilding over time. It allows plot points and themes to unravel organically.

          I’m with you on phones etc. though. A lot of writers still struggle to integrate technology, social media and so on in a way that feels authentic.

  3. Quite arrogant to put more value on certain relationships or certain people for that matter. The premise also made me think of Never Let me Go, although it sounds like a different style and different angle. Great review!

    • Thank you! You’re right, there’s a striking resemblance between the core concepts of this and Never Let Me Go, and though they share a quiet, melancholic tone, they branch off a fair amount when it comes to the narrative itself – thankfully!

    • I’d be VERY interested to hear your thoughts on this, especially given how much you love The Other Book. There are definite parallels, but I thought this was able to stand on its own.

  4. Interesting…obviously hard not to draw comparisons to Never Let Me Go (as I see others have done in the comments) but the main character does sound different here and it sounds like a different perspective. Regardless, it’s a fascinating conversation; our society might not deal with it like this but we definitely have biases as to which people we think are most “valuable”.

    • Indeed, there’s a striking resemblance in the initial concept, but I was relieved to find that they branch out in fairly different directions.

      Absolutely! The speculative elements of the story felt all the more unsettling for how perceptive they were regarding society’s view of value.

  5. Pingback: August Wrap Up | Women in Translation Month | Callum McLaughlin

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