Title: The Circle
Author: David Eggers
Edition: library e-book
Blurb: 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 America–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.
Review: Funny, lately I’ve been getting my reading inspiration from other forms of media. First, it was The Handmaid’s Tale because of the new series on Hulu. This time, it was The Circle, after seeing the trailer for the movie coming up with Tom Hanks and Emma Watson.
It’s interesting though, reading these two books back to back. They both show a potential future, but the outcomes of these two futures are very different. Instead of The Handmaid’s Tale‘s religious oppression, The Circle has a very 1984 feel to it, except that instead of Big Brother watching, everyone is watching. The idea is that all information is available. There is no privacy. Every thing is available to be watched by anyone, anywhere. Anyone who is trying to hide something is suspicious – if they are hiding it, it must be something shameful or something illegal. The Circle is what a company like Google would be on steroids, and also if it was run by devious people. Or at least ambiguous people. It’s really hard to tell if the leaders of the Circle are actually evil or just really, really misguided. Actually, I think at least one is evil. But I could be wrong. As I said, it’s really hard to tell.
And that’s what makes this a really good book. Nothing is simple. The Circle starts out as an Internet company that looks to do good, making things easier for people online. Identify theft is pretty much ended because of their work and millions of lives are made simpler. Mae is a really good character, who at the start of the book only wants to get out of her dead end job. She’s so happy when she gets her opportunity at the Circle, which does seem like a utopia. I spent a good deal of the time wishing I could work there. It was really easy for her to get more and more pulled into their influence, until they control nearly every aspect of not just her life, but her mind as well. It’s a really interesting character study.
I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I originally checked out the e-book from the library, but just bought a physical copy today. This is one I will want to re-read again. GoodReads rating: 5 stars