The Handmaid's Tale
By Margaret Atwood
This is a story of a dystopian future where we are no more than the sum of our parts and where the religious extremes are followed through to insane levels. It is compelling and haunting, full of nameless and socially named characters that will stay with you far past the final pages. And those final pages are essential. The "Afterword" adds so much to the story, it would be a travesty to skip it.
This book takes the notion of class, of gender, of rights vs privilege, of hierarchical systems, and of cultural xenophobia to some very frightening logical conclusions. It will make you think. It might give you nightmares. It is, understandably, one of the most important allegorical stories of our time.
The fact that it wasn't written in 2008 is shocking and a testament that there really is nothing new under the sun.
I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone... but especially those who like to think outside the box, who want to be challenged a bit in their beliefs, and who harbor a well placed mistrust of organized religions / systems.