The Circle review

My most recent read was The Circle, by Dave Eggers.  It was a library book that I downloaded onto my Kindle almost a full year after a friend recommended it to me.  I was finally motivated to put this on hold when I heard they were going to make a movie out of it!  Rumor has it that Emma Watson and Tom Hanks will play starring roles, with Hanks also having some behind the scenes input.  I mean, a movie with both Hermoine Granger and Forrest Gump?  Sign me up!

The Circle

But first, I had to read the book.  That’s kind of my thing.  If there is a movie out that I really want to see, I try to make it my policy to always read the book first.  I may be guilty of instituting this policy with my child, as well.  I’ve also been known to buy a Kindle book and fly through it in a day or two, just so I can follow up with the movie.  In fact, I did that very thing a few short weeks ago with Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl.  But now I’m just giving away all of my secrets!

Back to The Circle.  I’ve read two other books by Dave Eggers, so it was no surprise that The Circle would take somewhat of a cultural stand.  I think what surprised me the most was how much this book affected me.  I was truly disturbed by this book.  So much so, that when I shared my sentiments with my husband, he questioned my sanity.  After all, he knows how much I love a good post-apocolyptic, dystopian novel.  Sure, those are all works of fiction.  But I think what really got me about this book was how eerily close to reality it is.

The Circle is a story about Mae, a young twenty-something who leaves a tired job for a new career in the global internet communications company known as The Circle.  Think Microsoft, Google, or Apple.  Mae begins as a customer service representative and acquires this position through her former college roommate, who is an upper level “Circler.”  As Mae pushes herself to secure her position, it becomes evident that she has no real sense of what is required of someone who works at The Circle.  No one possibly could.  She is asked to maintain a constant online presence, while also being present at the many, many daily social gatherings held on The Circle’s large urban campus.  Life is lead over social media.  Mae’s performance at The Circle is based on a complicated system of online ratings and formulas, in which it seems as though her every move is being evaluated by the general public.   It’s overwhelming, yet Mae pushes on despite more demands being made of her everyday.

As mere months wear on, Mae becomes ingratiated into The Circle.  Her life plays out in front of her on social media.  Mae becomes more isolated, choosing to move out of her apartment and into a room on campus so that she never has to leave The Circle, finding life outside to be offensive and lacking in order.  To say that The Circle is cult-like would be an understatement.  With her acceptance into The Circle, Mae’s attitude towards her loved ones changes.  She becomes bitter and vengeful.  Mae believes that the way of The Circle is the only way.  She eventually receives backlash from her parents and a former boyfriend, perhaps the only voices of reason left in a life so demanding of knowledge.  

In The Circle, author Dave Eggers imagines a world in the not-so distant future in which surveillance and social media have taken over the world.  As in a perfect utopian society, The Circle strives for and demands complete transparency.  Politicians and eventually regular citizens become outfitted with small cameras, allowing unfettered access to their lives.  Cameras are installed publicly and can be monitored by anyone with access to the internet.  The idea behind this being that, when we are constantly being monitored, we will all be on our very best behavior.  Crime rates will go down, but in return, all privacy will cease to exist.  It is a frightening notion that, at this point in history, seems like an eventual reality. 

I would be lying if I said that I enjoyed this book.  It made me uncomfortable to read, which I imagine was probably the intent.  At least I hope it was.  Because if we all just accept that privacy is a thing of the past, then we are enabling a society that is inching ever closer to totalitarianism.

All that being said, I think The Circle will translate well to film.  It is an intriguing story.  With the amazing talents of Tom Hanks and Emma Watson, I look forward to seeing it play out on screen!

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2 thoughts on “The Circle review

  1. Tamara Floyd

    You have me curious about this author now. I have always wanted to read some of his and will put this on my to read list. Sounds like it would make a good discussion for bookclub.

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