It is easy to draw the comparison with Orwell's `1984' (which is actually name-checked within the novels narrative), but I think the book also owes a lot (perhaps more than 1984) to Huxley's `Brave New World' - both unarguably un-shabby influences.
The main thing that marks out the divergence in ideas with Elton's novel and 1984 is faith, or rather the dangers of blind faith and religious fundamentalism (It does make you wonder if Elton has ever read the non-fiction book `The end of Faith' by the equally brilliant Sam Harris!?)
While I agree with some of the other reviews here - that this book may not be his best in the sense of storyline (in my opinion that accolade goes to his brilliant `High Society') I feel the importance of the message outweighs the flaws in narrative.
Like many of his other best sellers the book is drenched in satire, but I do admit, lacks the overall wit of some of his better novels (`Dead Famous' is an excellent example of Elton at his satirical hilarious best). With this view in mind however it is worth noting that unlike `Dead Famous' this book deals with a subject that is harder to make light of - the inherent dangers of blind faith over logic and reason.
By discarding the values of reason, freedom of thought and science Elton has (perhaps with an almost depressingly terrifying accuracy) portrayed a world led by faith - it is not a pleasant one