I’ve wanted to read Dave Eggers for some time now but have just never had the chance. When I saw his new book was being offered out as a goodreads giveaway I entered immediately and was surprised and overjoyed when, a few weeks later, the novel appeared on my doorstep.
The book is the story of Mae, a young woman who lands her dream job at a company known as The Circle.
The book’s equivalent to Google, The Circle is a huge company dealing with almost every avenue of the digital world, from social networks to monetary transactions. The company’s huge office space, known as the Campus, is a sprawling building showcasing the greatest technological, architectural and cultural advances the world has to offer. Like Mae, I instantly fell in love with the campus, finding myself in awe as Eggers described each feature of the building in near pornographic detail.
It is not until Mae becomes more involved with life at the campus, that the cracks begin to show. She is continually told to increase her presence online. To share photographs, post comments, partake in market surveys and join discussion groups. Through her multiple conversations with her superiors we see the glisten of the Circle fade as Mae’s privacy is stripped away layer by layer and she is forced to document her life, rather than experience it.
This continues until it is taken to the extreme, Mae’s life broadcast live to the world 24/7, her personality all but extinguished as she is forced to evaluate and second guess her every interaction, knowing she is constantly before an audience, the narration becoming overstuffed with numbers and statistics as she constantly monitors her viewing figures.
What could be seen as a preachy subject matter is handled perfectly through Eggers’ writing. I truly felt for Mae as her privacy was so forcibly removed, at one point I actually had to put my book down as my anger swelled.
Eggers has a real knack for dialogue, each character’s voice is distinct and believable.
A lot of this book is taken up by Steve Jobs style product reveals and business meetings. It’s Eggers brilliant dialogue that keeps the reader engaged through these sessions which could, in the hands of a lesser writer, be dull and samey.
The circle is a fantastic novel and an important warning about where our culture is headed. As its hand extends across the world, influencing government and cataloguing history, we see the Circle’s digital utopia move, step by step towards totalitarianism and the reader is forced to ask important questions about our current place in the online world, where every search, comment, and purchase is stored forever online, used to market us products and where we are constantly encouraged to blog, like, share and tweet our every waking moment.
This book left me thinking for hours after I put it down. I would not only recommend it, but actively encourage you to seek it out. An intelligent, entertaining novel, it is an essential read, for those engaging in the online world.
I received this book for review through GoodReads FirstReads