The Circle, by Dave Eggers, is quite possibly the scariest book I have ever read. Even more than Fahrenheit 451 which scared me to death. It was assigned for my advanced expository writing class, where our professor has chosen to center the class around “big brother,” and have all of our writing reflect ideas of being watched with help from social media. Well this book definitely does focus on social media and the government. So be prepared for that.
Eggers has a knack for making dystopian fiction seem real. This was no “Hunger Games,” where you read the book and know that the chance of that happening was pretty much non existent. No this book had a very absolute connotation that this is what will happen if we don’t take social media and monopolies seriously. I actually bought this as an audio book because my commute to school 5 times a week is ridiculously long, and several times I had to take a break from the book because of how it was affecting me. Making me uneasy about everything. What I post on Facebook or Instagram. What I comment on others pictures or don’t comment. You second guess everything. Become paranoid. And I suppose Eggers wanted this, and in that case he certainly succeeded.
So what’s it all about you ask? Well, Mae Holland is just an ordinary girl (aren’t we all), working a dead end job that she doesn’t love to pay the bills she has to pay. But Mae has a friend from college who works for “The Circle,” which is the best place someone can work. A place where everything you do goes into a live machine so people can comment on your abilities. A campus that is so large, each of the buildings on it is named for another time period. New inventions and cutting edge technology are a daily occurrence for “Circlers.” Cultish in their relationships, enough to give you goosebumps at how “natural,” they try to be. You kind of get the feeling Eggers took Google and then multiplied their power to the fullest extent.
Mae asks her friend Annie to help her get a job there too. It works and soon Mae is living and breathing life at “The Circle.” And this would be ok, except “Circlers” are expected to attend parties that are held almost nightly, wear a health monitor 24/7, send “smiles,” and comments to thousands of people daily, sleep in on campus housing, share every thing they possibly do or think online in the form of “zings,” shop at the campus store and post about the products you’re using, take all of her meals there…. among a myriad of other things. Not only are they to post about all of these “experiences,” they also get rated on their postings. Her ex-boyfriend, Mercer, describes it best when he says, “I’ve never felt more that there is some cult taking over the world.” Add in the fact that there is a want by the companies founders, “the wise men,” to “close the circle.” And a mysterious stranger that she is intrigued by, one whom she can’t seem to find out anything about. Then there is the fact that outsiders believe that the wise men are trying to “close the circle,” and become a totalitarian society.
Mae soon finds herself becoming more entangled in this company than she thought possible, causing her to lose sight of who she thought she was. Can she make her way back? And will the mysterious stranger make himself known and available to her? I can promise you this, you will be shocked with every page. More than you think possible.