The story is set in a future society where humans are no longer born but instead grown from embryos in huge research labs. Years of trial and error has resulted in scientists being able to produce up to 15,000 individuals from a single embryo - all of which end up being twins. Immediately they are conditioned to think and feel and act in certain ways which make society what it should be - happy, stable, strong, and united. As they sleep they are played voice recordings which, to cut a long story short, programme them into what society wants them to be. One of the many recordings being "Everyone belongs to everyone else".
In a time when humans are made in batches, pyshcologically conditioned, mentally and physically matured in a fraction of the natural time, encouraged to participate in 'errotic play' from a young age, given 'soma' (a recreational drug) to cure lows, taught to throw out old/dirty/torn clothes and buy new ones, sheltered from dirt and disease, prevented from ever becoming pregnant, told that everyone belongs to everyone else (in effect everyone has sex with everyone without thinking twice as from a young age this is taught to be perfectly natural), given medicine so that you physically look like a 20 year old all your life until around the age of 50 when you drop dead, after hearing all this you are left with many questions. Questions like 'How could it ever work?', 'What would a society of clones be like?', 'Why on earth did they do it in the first place?', and 'Is everyone truly happy?'. Well, this book answers all these questions and many more, all the while introducing you to ideas you may never have come accross or thought too ridiculous to ponder over.
Furthermore, what would happen if someone from the 'old world' was given a chance to see this society? Would they accept the offer? What would they think of being called a 'Savage' just because they were born into a family with a mother and father, just because they weren't conditioned, just because they wasted their time reading books, just because they showed an emotion called love, just because they were like you and me.
Brave New World is one of the most fascinating books you will ever read and Huxley must've had a great mind to write such a masterpiece - and all in 230 pages.
Huxley begins the novel by explaining the caste system: "We also predestine and condition. We decant our babies as socialized human beings, as Epsilons or Alphas, as future sewage workers or future world controllers." The lower the caste, the less oxygen administered to the embryo - thus the Epsilons foetuses will receive far less oxygen than the Alphas and grow to be far less intelligent. The mental disabilities of the Epsilons allow them to perform the least desired jobs without questioning why, or desiring a more fulfilling life. The story follows two main characters, Bernard Marx (an Alpha plus male) and John (a 'savage,' who is part of a Native American tribe with Christian beliefs, and therefore grew up without the conditioning or clinical living of the majority of people in Huxley's future). Because the two are as different as can be, the way in which the two men cope with their strange lives makes for enthralling reading.
John, the savage, often quotes Shakespeare and this is where the title of Brave New World originates (Miranda's reunion with her family in Act V of The Tempest). Should inhabitants become unhappy or dissatisfied, an anti-depressant known as 'Soma' is regularly handed out to all. Within the dystopian society, marriage and child bearing no longer exist. In fact, the latter is a taboo subject: “The word…‘father’ with its connotation of something at one remove from the loathsomeness and moral obliquity of childbearing – merely gross, a scatological rather than pornographic impropriety.”
Although many people believe Brave New World to touch upon the subject of genetic engineering, this is not quite true: The novel was written in 1932 - twenty years before the structure of DNA was discovered by Crick and Watson. Still, procedures such as hypnopaedia (sleep-teaching) and cloning have accelerated rapidly since the book's publication, and Huxley was quoted in 'Brave New World Revisited' (a collection of essays exploring the themes of his novel) as saying, 'I feel a good deal less optimistic than I did when I was writing Brave New World. The prophecies made in 1931 are coming true much sooner than I thought they would.' It has been said many times before, but Brave New World is a groundbreaking novel, written way ahead of its time. Read it and judge for yourself.