The Unit

In Book Reviews on July 28, 2013 at 6:00 am

The Unit

One World Publications 2010

I think it’s beautiful when men show their physical strength openly without being ashamed of it or apologizing. And I think it’s beautiful when women dare to be physically weak and accept help with heavy jobs.

This book affected me. Intensely.

Nutshell blurb: 50 year old Dorritt has just been admitted to the 2nd Federal Reserve Bank for Biological Material where she will spend the rest of her days in relative comfort, undergoing “humane” medical tests and donating organs to more important people in society until the day she makes her “final donation”.

This book scored high for me on the creep-out meter. I’ve been reading a lot of dystopia lately that has been deliciously scary but there is something about donating organs before one dies that freaks me right out. I mean, we will probably never experience a zombie apocalypse, an alien invasion or any of the many scenarios authors of dystopia have dreamed up. But this…this really feels like something that could happen one day. At least it does to me. I’ve never been the same since reading that email that did the rounds way back in the early 2000s about people being drugged in hotel bars and waking up in a bathtub full of ice with a note saying that their kidneys had been removed.

Anyway, back to the book. The fact that it weirded me out has no bearing on whether or not I liked it because I really really did.

As a strong, independent woman, there were things that were difficult for me to read without wincing such as the quote above. The important members of society were the ones in important jobs which served society such as being a doctor, teacher, police officer, etc… Being a parent left you home free as well. Women who didn’t jump into relationships and who made it to the age of 50 without having children or an important job were sent to the Unit. The same went for men who made it to 60. These people are considered dispensable.

The main character wrote novels and read a lot. She mentions that people who read a lot tend to be dispensable. These are the type of people I tend to befriend. Strong, independent, smart.

The reason that I get so affected by stories is that I have a very strong sense of empathy. When I read a book or watch a film, I usually put myself in the place of the characters. I don’t mean that I imagine myself actually in the film or book; I mean that I try to imagine what I’d do in that particular situation. What would my role be in the society?

Well, let’s see…I love to read and write. I have no children and am not sure whether or not I will. I don’t have a job that’s important to society. OH MY GOD, I’VE GOT TWELVE YEARS UNTIL THEY SEND ME TO THE UNIT!!!


This book put me through some heavy emotions. I was terrified, heart-broken, tense, over-joyed…All of these things. I was reading it on the way to work one day and I got to a certain point which made my eyes tear up. I almost started crying right there on the Underground. I absolutely love it when a book can trigger such strong emotions. (I’m sure my fellow commuters thought that I was a bit unhinged, though.)

I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads. It missed out on 1 star because I was unclear about why the author ended it the way she did. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil it.) It was a pretty powerful ending but there was no explanation about why the main character made the choices that she made. I don’t feel that every story has to be perfectly wrapped up, but I do want to understand the motivation behind the choices.

Gosh, I’ve gotta stop reading this kind of stuff before bed…

  1. (oh, it’s a new theme. Haven’t been here in a while…)

    This book sounds terrifying in a fantastic way. I just spoiled lots of it for myself, so I’d like to ask you about your feelings on the ending, the reveal about Dorrit and whether this book moved you to action, or to thought about action, as you are on vacation.

    • Actually I’ve scheduled all of my blog posts for while I’m away as I only have access to the internet via my phone. It’s not the best platform for long posts.

      As for the ending, I just thought it felt rushed and there was no explanation as to why she made the choices she did. I don’t really want to go into it in detail as I would hate to spill it for anyone.

  2. Just reading your write up about the book made me shiver – I think I’ll be finding a copy of this for myself cos I’m feeling a Need To Read! πŸ˜€

  3. I just ordered this book from the library. Thanks for posting this – I would never have found it without reading what you wrote.

  4. Finished The Unit the other day. Fascinating. The author certainly creates a very detailed and disturbing world. Like you, I didn’t exactly understand the main character’s choices at the end, but – trying to figure it out kept my mind on the book for a while after I finished it. I also wondered why the over 50’s didn’t resist more – but I think that it also shows how easy it is to accept the ways of society and not question them. Very interesting read. Thank you.

    I have a suggestion for a book you might like – Niceville by Carsten Stroud. The author also has a new book out whose name is escaping me (because I ordered it from the library and since I know I’m safe on the waiting list I let my mind relax and think other thoughts!). But this one is the earlier one. Having read it I am looking forward to more.

    Hope you are doing well. Claudia

    • Yes, I thought about this book for a long time afterwards too. I also thought that it was interesting that they didn’t resist, but the staff really made it seem like they were being treated kindly. I think that it also shows an extreme example of how most of us tend to go along with what society dictates without really thinking about it and I feel that I should question things more than I do.

      I also really loved that the main character was over 50. Usually these dystopian books are about teenagers.

      Thanks for the recommendation! I’ll see if my library has it.

      I appreciate you responding about The Unit with your thoughts. I hope to speak to you soon about more books. πŸ™‚

  5. Thanks so telling me about this book! It sounds really interesting. It is now on my list! πŸ™‚

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