Exploring a scenario not too distant from reality, Eggers writes a dystopian novel that questions the extent to which technology has been pushed. In this book, The Circle is the Earth’s most powerful internet company, based in California; its slogan is “All that happens must be known.” A young woman named Mae Holland gets a job there, meeting up with her best friend, Annie. Mae takes a tour through the campus, and views The Circle: beautiful glass buildings, outdoor swimming pools, tanks of rare deep-sea fish, and almost everything else you can imagine. It seems perfect. When The Circle reveals a miniature surveillance camera that’s almost unnoticeable and can wirelessly stream to a larger screen anywhere in the world, the thought seems harmless. But is this new piece of technology threatening society’s privacy? The short answer is yes.
Eggers tells a thrilling story of how technology can change our lives for better or for worse. He brilliantly describes the many ways it changes Mae’s life— privately, socially, and in many ways she wished could stay the same. He describes how her relationship with Annie changes, how her personality changes, and how stress devours her everyday life. The Circle takes the reader on a fantastic journey through the life of a technology-run world.
Eggers discusses the fact that in our world, spying creates tension throughout society, but describes it through a fictional scenario. When reading this novel, one can’t help but think of current issues such as the National Security Agency spying on civilians. Eggers wrote in a way that I could see Mae change, Annie change, and The Circle change, all because of a small creation— originated by a simple thought: all that happens must be known.
The Circle is a wonderful book that opens up all sorts of questions about modern technology, and I would recommend it to anyone who’s open to understanding the drawbacks to “advances” in society.
Alfred A. Knopf, 491 pages