The Circle – Dave Eggers

The librarian at the university where I work suggested this book to read. While it was a bit difficult to get into (the main reason being the awful book design! Tiny type and uneven margins! Eeeek!!!), I must say by the end I was completely enthralled.

Let me take you through the synopsis.

I believe the book is set in present day – maybe a few years in the future. “The Circle” is a company that rivals (and surpasses) Apple, Facebook and Google and has become a global phenomenon. They control all the latest technology advancements and have taken over social media. Working there is a pipe dream for most.

Our protagonist Mae Holland scores a job there through her college roommate Annie’s connection. We see her rise through the company to become one of the most important people, and with it we see how The Circle is just taking things a bit too far, and Mae and the rest of them are too oblivious to notice what is happening.

This book is a really interesting commentary on how the world is becoming increasingly prone to surveillance, and how our right to privacy is becoming more and more endangered. Technology is advancing so that cameras are smaller and more prominent, and with the spread of social media every event everywhere has the potential to be broadcast publicly.

Most of the characters in the book (including Mae) don’t see the problem with The Circle doing what they do, but a few work to try and stop the spread – particularly when the chance of every person being microchipped, and The Circle enforcing political agendas becomes a thing.

I was made to feel grateful for the ability to get lost on a bushwalk or whisper quiet words to my husband in the middle of the night. These little luxuries are precious – they are ours and they belong to only us. The thought of everything becoming public and broadcast is terrifying.

Eggers clearly has some interesting philosophical ideas. Here’s an excerpt I thought was poignant:

She was twenty-four, and he was unlike anyone she’d ever known. That was, she thought drunkenly, evidence of God, was it not? That she could encounter thousands of people in her life thus far, so many of them similar, so many of them forgettable, but then there is this person, new and bizarre and speaking bizarrely. Every day some scientist discovered a new species of frog or waterlily, and that, too, seemed to confirm some divine showman, some celestial inventor putting new toys before us, hidden but hidden poorly, just where we might happen upon them.

Well put, right? There are a few nice ideas like this in this book.

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