Title: The Circle
Author: Dave Eggers
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.
I’ve read quite a few books that start with a character getting a new job, an amazing job, that turns out to be different from what they expected, so I thought this book will be a high tech version of that story. I was wrong- this book is basically a manual on how to create a high-tech dystopian world.
The biggest weakness in the book is the main character, Mae. She’s an incredibly pliable character; things happen to her and she accepts them. It was very frustrating to read about – she was doing things that didn’t make any sense to me and she seems to have lost her personality sometime during the story. This is one of those books that I would love to read from the perspective of a different character: Annie, Mercer or Ty would be my favorites.
The Circle is a fictional company that may or may not be inspired by some real company – plenty of them would love to have the power that The Circle has. The idea of sharing and oversharing your life with strangers on the internet is definitely inspired by real life. I’m pretty much always in favor of technology, but it’s obvious that some people take it way too far.
Up until the last few pages I was sure I knew how it was going to end… I was so wrong. This book could be improved a lot, but it was enjoyable enough and different enough that it makes me want to read other Dave Eggers’ books.