[Book Review] The Circle by Dave Eggers

With so many books on the reading agenda, I’ll be honest and share that I didn’t have the new Dave Egger’s The Circle on the list. That was until I attended the Toronto Bookstravaganza event. Listening to Anne Collins, editor at Knopf Random House talk about this book was enough to make me look up from my social media responsibilities that night and do one of these:

Tim GunnNo word of a lie, this is exactly what I looked like.

A book all about the world of social media and it’s impact on our society. Yup, sign me up! So the day after Bookstravaganza, I went into work and asked around and voila, I had an advanced reading copy of The Circle. 

The-Circle-by-Dave-EggersMae Holland is a recent graduate who has finally hit her lucky break. Her friend Annie works at the Circle, otherwise known as the world’s most powerful internet company and has helped secure a job for Mae. Their office isn’t your normal, run of the mill office, rather, it’s referred to as the Circle campus. If you’ve worked too late, just have a nap in their provided beds, shower in their showers and you’re welcome to utilize the clothes they’ve purchased for staff. Sounds amazing, right? At first it is… then things become a little too invasive.

The novelty of all the great things affiliated with the job start to wear thin when Mae attends a meeting early on in her Circle career. The meeting is referred to as ‘Dream Friday’, where something new they’re working on is showcased. They present a camera so tiny that it fits on a blade of grass and has the ability to transmit an image via satellite, no wires needed. As Eamon Bailey (one of the co-founders of the Circle) explains,

You can buy ten of them for Christmas and suddenly you have constant access to everywhere you want to be – home, work, traffic conditions. And anyone can install them. It takes five minutes tops. Think of the implications.

Mae of course is intrigued and excited about what she’s just signed up for. She smiles as the words land on the screen,

ALL THAT HAPPENS MUST BE KNOWN.

Of course, at this point during your reading experience, you’re thinking to yourself, well that’s not right. I’m entitled to a private life. But as you continue to read on, you’ll become a little frightened to learn that even though this book is fictional, it has a non-fiction element to it as well. For example, during my reading of the book, I travelled to Second Cup to read it with a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning. Here’s where the irony comes into play… I started taking a picture of my coffee shop experience. I positioned my croissant, my coffee and the book for a picture that I had intended to share on Instagram, but stopped myself before I posted it. Wasn’t I doing the exact thing that Dave Eggers set out to explore in this book? Sharing details of my life that don’t necessarily need to be shared? So naturally the picture never got shared, but as I continued reading this gripping book, my accessibility and responsibility for my social media habits continued to be called into play.

Mae’s technical abilities are top notch, but her ability to interact with the Circle community isn’t up to par. She’s called into her managers office to talk about her “Participation Rank”, often referred to as the “Popularity Rank”, which is a ticker in the bottom right hand screen (on her many computer screens) that documents her interaction with the Circle community. If she sees something/anything that interests her, she’s encourage to share it. Their universal operating system allows for everything to be connected so rather than trying to keeps some things personal, she’s told to join the conversation… immediately. Of course in an attempt to be a part of the team, she dives in head first. But of course all of this comes at a cost and her life outside the Circle starts to become disconnected. The more she interacts with strangers, the less she connects with humans.

Theres no better way to describe The Circle than how it’s described on the catalog page,

What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.

You’ll be forced to take a closer look at what should actually be shared after reading this novel. You’ll also find yourself talking about it with everyone you encounter. No word of a lie, I’ve talked about this book with my Mom, my Dad, my friends, colleagues and fellow book bloggers. This book is Dave Eggers at the top of his game and I’ll be shocked if you don’t adjust the way you interact online after reading this fabulous novel.

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4 thoughts on “[Book Review] The Circle by Dave Eggers

  1. Chelsey says:

    I love this review, Lindsey! I was himming and hawing (is that how it’s spelled lol?) over it for a while but this totally hooked me. I’ve never read Eggers but maybe it’s time to rectify that! I loved the personal story about being in Second Cup. I can see myself doing exactly that lol.

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