Friday, April 30, 2010

The Unit vs. Never Let Me Go

I recently read The Unit, by Ninni Holmqvist (translated from the Swedish by Marlaine Delargy) and Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro. The dystopian genre to which these books belong has fascinated me since I was introduced to 1984 back when I was a high school sophomore.

I recommend both these titles to book groups. Although there are similarities between them, my favorite is definitely Holmqvist's debut novel, The Unit. A lot more seems to happen in that book than in Never Let Me Go, which is a quieter read and zeroes in more closely on a tight-knit trio of friends.

Both stories are set in societies (in Sweden in the near future and Great Britain in the late-1990s, respectively) where certain members are considered dispensable and are sacrificed for the good of others. Dorrit, the protagonist of The Unit, is wiser to what is going on than the friends of Never Let Me Go, who try to figure out the full scope of their situation for the entirety of the book.

Both Dorrit and Kathy, who narrates Never Let Me Go, become involved in bittersweet love affairs that greatly complicate matters. How does one reconcile love while on a fast track to the end of life? Does society trump the individual?

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