Utopia 58 is a 2019 post-apocalyptic novel written by Daniel Arenson.
Several years into the future, most of planet earth has evolved into a Utopia where everyone and everything is designed to be equal. There are no genders, no ages, no colors, no names, and no differences between any individual of any kind. All must wear white robes, masks, and voice mudulators to disguise themselves from one another. Anyone who doesn't abide by these rules can and will be punished, even if it means imprisonment or death.
In the nation of Isonomia, a middle-aged man known as KB209, or Kay, is attending one of the weekly rallies in the city along with thousands of other individuals. While there, he discovers a woman named Ellie rebelling against the Equalist Empire by wearing nail polish. After Kay meets Ellie and knows more about her, he finds out that she's part of a rebellion currently at war against the Equalists, and Kay ends up fighting for his life as he and Ellie try to escape Isonomia and reach Zion, a safe haven far away from Isonomia where rebels like Kay and Ellie can life a happy, colorful, fulfilling life without being judged for their differences.
Utopia 58 provides examples of:
- Action Survivor: Kay has absolutely no military or weapons training. He only gets through several perilous situations by improvising on the fly, learning as he goes along, or simply getting lucky.
- Anyone Can Die: Very few major named characters live to the end of the story. Not even Kay survives, whereas only a small amount of minor characters survive unscathed.
- Apathetic Citizens: Most of the people in Isonomia know that the world is crumbling around them, and that people are routinely abused, arrested, or executed in the middle of the streets. None of them care, and just continue about their day.
- Bad Boss:
- The White General doesn't care about the sheer amount of soldiers who die under his command. He even chokes one of them to death just for reluctantly questioning one of his orders.
- Ellie is secretly in charge of the country's army and navy, yet she willingly kills several soldiers and sailors alongside the other rebels just to maintain her cover.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: Subverted. After killing Tilly, Kay tries to shoot himself so he won't be captured by the White General. The White General deliberately shocks Kay and knocks the gun from his hand just so he can capture him alive.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Ellie acts like a sweet, innocent woman, but she's really the one who manipulated Kay into finding the rebels' hideouts, and she subsequently got all of the rebels killed.
- Black and Gray Morality: The villains are responsible for allowing Isonomia's horrendous conditions to continue, and they sanction massacres, imprisonments, and torture on a daily basis. The heroes, however, aren't above harming or killing innocents just to Leave No Witnesses, and even though the book shows that many soldiers are just doing their jobs, the heroes gun them down with little hesitation.
- Bring My Brown Pants: When Ellie uses her mindcap to scramble a few Equalizers' brains, one of them ends up wetting themselves.
- Card-Carrying Villain: EQL61, also known as the White General, is a complete sadist who takes much delight in torturing and killing anyone who opposes the Isonomian Empire.
- Death of a Child: Lots of children are killed throughout the story. Most notably is a young girl who was mauled by other children for drinking chocolate milk before everyone else.
- Downer Ending: The rebels discover that Zion is nothing but a wasteland that was destroyed years ago. During their quest, all but Kay and Adrian are slaughtered, and Kay and Adrian are imprisoned and tortured for months. Kay finds out that his wife, Christine, killed their son Peter after Peter ratted Kay out to the Equapol and got Kay sent to a concentration camp for eight years. He also discovers that Ellie is secretly the Father, and she used him to lure out the other rebels so she could have them killed. Kay, Adrian, and a few other rebels are executed via stoning, and it's made clear that Isonomia's ways will continue for many years to come.
- Eye Scream: Many. Most notably is a pirate missing an eye with a finch nestled in the empty socket, and in the final chapter where Kay gets stoned in his eyes during his execution.
- Early on in the story, Kay attends an execution where thousands of Isonomians are stoning Zionites to death. Kay becomes a victim of a similar execution in the final chapter, along with eleven other rebels he fought beside.
- Ellie gets accused of being a traitor sometime after Tenzin's Temple is attacked, both because she's the White General's wife and because she never takes off her mindcap. Not only is she a traitor, but she was behind every attack to begin with.
- Kay gives a history lesson about how a boy named Peter got his father sent to a concentration camp for several years. Kay keeps remembering that he has a son, but doesn't know what his name is. Turns out that Kay's son was Peter, and Kay had been tortured so horribly that he forgot both his wife and son's names.
- Greater-Scope Villain: The Father, the ruler of Isonomia who built the country in his image and is the reason why most of the country (and the world) is in turmoil.
- The Heavy: There's no central antagonist in the story, but EQL61 is the main prominent figure in the White Army chasing after Kay and Ellie and hunting down the rebels.
- Hope Spot: Several. If the protagonists ever find themselves escaping the White Army, meeting new allies, or having a chance to slow down or relax, expect the White Army to abruptly find them again and start gunning after them shortly afterwards.
- It Gets Easier: Kay is horrified when he first kills an Equalizer, to the point where he almost has a breakdown. After he kills another five, he's far less upset. Halfway into the story, he's gunning down Equalizers with no hesitation whatsoever.
- Karma Houdini: Neither Ellie nor the White General face any form of comeuppance for their actions. And both of them are going to keep Isonomia in the current state that it's in, ensuring more torture and death will continue.
- Mercy Kill: Kay kills Tilly after he realizes that he, Tilly, and Adrian are about to get captured in order to spare her from being tortured for several months by the Equalizers.
- Offing the Offspring: Christine, Kay's wife, shot and kill their son Peter after he got Kay imprisoned and tortured in a concentration camp for eight years.
- Punch-Clock Villain: Certain members of the Equapol and the White Army aren't sadists who uphold the law with an iron fist. Some of them, like T2150, are just doing their jobs like everyone else.
- Red Herring: It's strongly implied that Adrian is a traitor, given that we never know about his family short of what he tells the rebels, and because he's an all-around Jerkass who repeatedly shoots down the rebels' hope and doesn't believe Zion exists. Turns out he's completely innocent and everything he said was true. The real traitor is Ellie.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Kay's quest to free Ellie and find Zion ends with him realizing that Zion is a wasteland and Ellie is the Father, and she had been secretly sending the White Army to hunt down all the rebels. Then he gets imprisoned and is later stoned to death. He manages to pass off a scrambler to a young girl and tells her to build Zion before he dies, but even if she does, Isonomia won't change for another few decades, and that's assuming the girl even lives that long.
- Tomato in the Mirror: Kay is the father of G451, the martyr who ratted out his father to the police and got him imprisoned for eight years. And just like in the story, Kay's wife, Christine, killed their own son over what he did.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: In the penultimate chapter, after Kay has been captured and all his allies have perished, he finds out that Ellie survived and infiltrated his cell dressed as the Father. Then it's revealed that she is the Father, and she has absolutely no intention of freeing him. The final chapter ends with Kay being executed.