Now a Major Motion Picture starring Emma Watson and Tom Hanks. A bestselling dystopian novel that tackles surveillance, privacy and the frightening intrusions of technology in our lives.
When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world—even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.
Dave Eggers‘s The Circle is an all-or-nothing kind of book. I wouldn’t call it a literary novel; it’s more of a fable, a kind of 1984 for the online world. Its central character, Mae, is a frustrating empty vessel. She believes anything she’s told, gloms onto any guy who shows interest in her, abandons her loved ones, passions, and principles (the few she has) with only the slightest persuasion. Is she a pure symbol, meant only to convey what happens when things go too far, or is she actually supposed to be a real human being?
The Circle probably deserves just four out of five stars – the writing is simple and the characters don’t have much depth. In any other book, shortcomings like these would definitely play a much bigger role in the rating. But despite these issues, for me The Circle was an extremely exciting and interesting story to read.