This book depicts a collectivist society, where every part of every person's life is regulated. This society shuns individuality, and the mottos include: "We are one in all and all in one. There are no men but only the great WE, One, indivisible and forever." and "We are nothing. Mankind is all...We exist through, by and for our brothers who are the State." Everyone in this society refers to his or herself as "we" because the word used to refer to an individual person, Unspeakable Word, has been lost to this world. This word is one that the main character struggles to discover through the book.
The main character's name is Equality 7-2521, a "name" that he later replaces with "Prometheus", a name of his own choosing. Prometheus is different from the other men in his society. He is uncommonly intelligent, tall, and curious; his teachers tell him that it is bad to be different from the others, and so he must be evil. When he turns 15, Prometheus is assigned his life Mandate: Street Sweeper. However, one day he discovers a tunnel that is from the Unmentionable Times (the "technologically-advanced" past), and he spends hours there each day. One day he rediscovers electric light. He knows his invention is important and powerful, and wishes to bring it to the Council of Scholars. It is rejected because it was invented by a single person, especially one not assigned to be a Scholar, and must be destroyed along with its creator. He flees to the Uncharted Forest, and is later joined by his loved one, whom he calls "the Golden One." When he is there, he feels free from the restrictions of his society at last, and by now has realized how his society is made of fools. With the help of his lover, he discovers many important things that his society has banished from the thoughts of men.
The review of this Book prepared by Jenn