Title: The Circle
Author: Dave Eggers
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Genre: General Fiction
Rating: 4 out 5 stars
At the beginning of The Circle, Mae Holland has just started working for the titular company, an internet conglomerate that seems like a cross between Google and Facebook. We follow her progression as a newbie in CE, or “Customer Experience”, as she climbs her way up the corporate ladder. As Mae becomes more intrenched with The Circle she seems to lose who she is as a person and becomes addicted to the very technology the company she works for produces. The Circle is shadier than it looks from the outside, but will Mae learn that before she falls victim to it’s siren song of connecting the world through the sharing of information?
This book is one focused more on themes than on plot and that is what makes it interesting. Mae’s climb to her very public role in the Circle doesn’t seem all that interesting at first glance. But the more I read, the more I started to see similariies between The Circle and the world built in George Orwell’s 1984. At one point I described this book as 1984 if Orwell had a better understanding of how future technology would actually work. Eggers has the advantage of living with this technology.
Eggers uses The Circle to discuss the ramifications of social media and other current technologies taken to an extreme. Issues of privacy and social media addiction are examined all while still making the working world of The Circle look rather appealing. Who, at first glance, wouldn’t want to work at a company that really cares about its employees overall well-being? But what if that same company started advertising all of its employees private information to the world? These are just a couple of issues that The Circle touches upon. The suspense in this novel feeds off how the reader feels about social media and technology and how much privacy we should give up to be able to interact with one another. There were times when I thought Eggers might just be a little too paranoid about the dangers of technology but then I’d think about how I am not currently forced to put all of my information up on Facebook and Twitter. What if I was? Would I feel different about social media if it became mandatory, either as part of my citizenry or part of my job? The questions that The Circle made me ask myself made me enjoy this novel. It’s a book where not much happens but what does happen gets the reader’s mind churning.