Tag Archives: dystopia

Review: The Unit

The UnitThe Unit by Ninni Holmqvist
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

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.

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Review: We

WeWe by Yevgeny Zamyatin
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Yevgeny Zamyatin described We as “my most jesting and most serious work.” Having read nothing else by the author I cannot completely concur with the statement, but serious and jesting it certainly is. We describes a supposedly utopian society based on mathematics and a petroleum based food substance. (If the latter seems an odd choice, keep in mind that the book was written in 1920.) This society is the result of a two hundred year war in which all but 0.2% of humanity is wiped out and the remainder go to live in a city surrounded by a glass wall where even the weather is rigidly controlled. Schedules are king, they have a Benefactor who is unanimously elected each year, and every aspect of life is controlled. We is the story of a mathematician who begins to realize, with the help of a woman he falls in love with, that perhaps all is not well in this alleged Eden.

Ultimately, while I enjoyed this book, I had some problems with the writing. It ended up being highly disjointed and frequently confusing. This is partially explained by the fact that it is written as a series of journal entries. Nevertheless, it could have been executed more skillfully, in my opinion.

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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's TaleThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After enjoying Oryx and Crake so much, I had high expectations of The Handmaid’s Tale. They were largely fulfilled. Margaret Atwood weaves a horrifying image of a society in which religious fundamentalism and fear of Caucasian infertility are taken to their furthest extremities. The rights of women are a particular area of focus. While reading this book, I began to think about the similarities between it and The Children of Men. Both deal with the concept of infertility and a totalitarian, terrorizing state. Additionally, both are written by women and were released within a small time span. Based on this, I am planning to write a piece comparing and contrasting the two books. Obviously, this is truly a thought-provoking work.

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Currently reading The Children of Men by P.D. James

The Children of Men is having a much deeper impact on me than I anticipated. It isn’t just an apocalyptic sci fi novel. It strikes deep to the root of what I feel is one of the most common and profound fears we have as people–extinction. And not just extinction by comet, asteroid, alien invaders or even disease. Extinction by the betrayal of our bodies. The inability to procreate, to pass along our genetic code. The barren woman has been pitied or looked upon as shameful from the earliest of our myths and religions. Fatherhood and motherhood have both been honored, albeit in different ways. People take so much pride in those little beings they “create.” The idea that it’s mostly outside of our control, let alone that it could someday become impossible is terrifying. Even as one who does not wish to have children I feel that chill.