If you’ve ever had a slight niggling thought that maybe Google, Apple and Facebook know just a little bit too much about your life, then prepare to have all your worst fears realised in the form of Dave Eggers’ latest novel, The Circle. Please bear with my intense hyperbole; I’m utterly addicted to this book, as is my friend Alice. In fact, way past midnight the other day she texted, “Oh my god Em I’ve just finished The Circle, oh my god.” Which is a completely appropriate level of reaction to this book.
Eggers creates a world so appealing that for the first hundred pages of The Circle you’re wishing it was reality, and then suddenly the sinister undertones rise up and take over protagonist Mae’s world.
I’m a flagrant hypocrite, terrified of the power of social media but also perfectly happy to exploit it for my own gain. Whether that is something as simple as interacting with friends across the globe, or something as pathetic as desperately seeking approval on my life choices (those life choices usually involve food). The Circle plays on all those fears you have, in a world where exposing your entire life through social media is considered not only the norm but a requirement of being a diligent citizen.
Mae is a fresh faced and driven graduate, whose college best friend is one of the top 40 employees at The Circle. She’s helped secure Mae a job in the brilliantly titled “Customer Experience” which involves ruthless and constant assessment as the customers. She soon discovers that The Circle is not simply a workplace but a prototype universe for its founders, the so called Three Wise Men. With onsite accommodation, entertainment and healthcare, what need could the workers have to go home? With a cynical ex boyfriend at home getting cosy parents, Mae begins to dive head first into everything The Circle has to offer, and soon finds herself in too deep and unable to get out.
Eggers creates a world of paranoia through transparency in this contemporary 1984 . With hints of romance, manipulation and constant sharing and observation you will never feel safe again when logging in to Facebook or Twitter. The book has a great pace to it, building tension quickly throughout the final chapters. It doesn’t take you long to power through this book, although I did reach a point where I was trying to savour every sentence as the anticipation built towards the climax.
Whether you need a beach read, something to distract you from your commute or a good immersive bed time book, The Circle has something to offer you. I was addicted.