Dorrit Weger has reached her 50th birthday and is about to embark on a new life. She’s moving to a place where she’ll have her own apartment in a beautiful community with every recreational opportunity you could imagine, beautiful gardens, great restaurants and trendy boutiques all at her fingertips. The best part is that none of it will cost her a dime. It’s all being taken care of by the government. There’s just one catch. There are surveillance cameras everywhere, even in the bathroom, and once you become a resident of “the unit” you never leave. Your world is literally under a huge glass dome where even the dew on the grass is artificial and the seasons never change.
“The unit” is the Second Reserve Bank Unit for biological material. Women who reach the age of 50, or men who reach the age of 60, and are single and childless with jobs in areas that don’t support economic growth become classified as quite literally “dispensable” and are sent to the unit. Once there, they participate in various scientific experiments and become walking organ donors, providing a kidney, cornea, or whatever else is required to keep the “needed” citizens healthy. Most last 4 or 5 years before making their “final donation”.
The creepy thing (well one of the creepy things) about the unit is the way people, even dispensable people, accept it as a normal part of society. In fact, the unit was established after a referendum was voted on and passed by the citizens. Everything is done in such a humane and downright cheerful manner. Dorrit arrives feeling slightly nervous, but the lavish welcome party thrown by the staff soon has her making new friends, dancing and feeling a part of the community. It’s not long before Dorrit finds something that eluded her in the outside world — love. As the experiments and organ donations continue, obedience and compliance turn to helpless horror at the inevitable ending.
Holmqvist draws you in from the first page and keeps you moving forward with short chapters that make it impossible not to want to read just one more (or two or three) before you put it down. Creepy good read.