‘The Circle’ is the biggest internet company in the world, with technological arms which reach into many areas of life. Mae Holland is one of the lucky ones who gets a job at The Circle, and her life is going to completely change
Note: For purposes of this review ‘The Circle’ refers to the book and The Circle refers to the company which is the topic of the book.
When ‘The Circle’ was first released there were a lot of people on my blogroll reading it, and many raving about it. At the time I sort of liked the concept but my experience of the only other Dave Eggers book I’ve read (‘A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius’) sort of put me off. When I finally picked it up it was because it was on kindle daily deal. I kind of wish I hadn’t judged the book by its author because I actually really liked ‘The Circle’.
The book has been described as being a dystopian novel, which is probably accurate, although what makes it really scary and sort of uncomfortable is how close it is to life now, and how at first it doesn’t seem like anything is really that bad, in fact most of the things The Circle are doing seem almost good. It’s only when it’s too late that you realise those things which seemed good are actually not so great, and it makes you question where the line is. At what point did the things The Circle was doing become bad? Or were they always bad?
The Circle is a sort of blend of google and facebook. There’s a social element which is similar to facebook, but then they are all over the place through their ‘true you’ program which means you only ever need to remember one login for everything, banking, shopping, social media. This sounds sort of good, right, convenient? Then they’re into social justice, documenting things for accountability, like demonstrations, you can see where violence might start, and it’s a public place, anyone could see it anyway. It’s not that different from videos being posted on youtube to show what governments are doing. That’s good, right? We want governments to be accountable.
‘The Circle’ has kept popping back into my head since I read it. Part of it was that it got me thinking about fine lines and privacy, and accountability. Part of it is that real life kept making me think of it. Not long after I’d read it I saw that facebook had started a feature where you can see how many people have reacted to your recent posts. Like wow look how popular you are Like! I don’t care about that for my personal account (maybe a little for the blog facebook), at the time I might want to talk to my friends about what I’d posted, or I might appreciate someone’s reaction to it, but I don’t really care about how many people it is. I’m not a big facebook poster anyway.
I would say that ‘The Circle’ does make you think and I would recommend it. Quite a few people dislike it because they find Mae hard to sympathise with, she’s not really a likeable character, so if you have to like your main character then I would maybe leave this one, but her being that way is part of what makes the book what it is.
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