Book Review | The Circle by Dave Eggers

The Circle Dave EggersThe Circle by Dave Eggers

Mae has always dreamed of working at Google the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, so she is determined to make the most of the ‘in’ offered by one of her former college classmates. The Circle connects people’s social, work and financial information via a universal operating system which places emphasis on transparency to create one complete profile – no fake names or anonymity allowed. As Mae is quickly inducted into the company policies, including a constant and active presence on her profile, she finds herself becoming more and more entrenched in the company and it’s ambitions, at times abandoning real-life connections for the online world.

At first Mae seems reluctant to this change. She only feels truly at peace solo rowing on the bay with only sea lions and pelicans for company, far from the buzz of the Circle. However, she is so desperate to impress at her work that she allows herself to be overwritten, for her personality to be deleted and replaced with that of “the Circle’s ideal employee”. When she meets a mysterious stranger on the company’s exclusive campus, her dedication is momentarily thrown. She glimpses a sinister outcome for a world where 100% transparency and connectivity is key and the monopoly that the Circle is creating for itself in every aspect of private citizens’ world’s, but is she already in too deep to prevent this?

The Circle  is scarily plausible, an Orwellian novel for the current times. The premise of an all-powerful company controlling all aspects of our life is a classic theme for science-fiction dystopias and Eggers has simply updated this for the 21st Century. It’s a strong hook and one that overcomes what would otherwise be seen as shortcomings in the novel. The characters are mostly flimsy – the ‘heroine’ Mae, frustrating vapid at times, but thankfully this can be forgiven.

Overall, it’s an unsettling but enjoyable read. I disliked Mae, but this made it easier to accept the bad things that happen to her! For me, The Circle  is a timely reminder to think twice about how easily you put your information online… while putting information online. Signing off now!

Have you read The Circle? What did you think of it?

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