This is probably the scariest book that I have read in recent years; however, in no way is this horror, or the ilk, its just that Eggers take on the near-future is alarming. The Circle is a science-fiction novel, a bit like a 1984 for the 21st century. The protagonist of the novel is Mae Holland, a recent graduate, who joins an internet company on the recommendation of her friend, who has a high position within it. As the novel progresses Mae’s role in the company changes drastically, becoming one of the companies most recognised staff. She soon has to decide between her own opinion or her role within the company.
The novel’s name, The Circle, is shared with the internet company that Mae joins. This company is an amalgamation of every major internet company that exists today; it allows you to do everything you currently do on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram with the functions of Apple, Microsoft, YouTube, Google, etc. in one place with one log in. To some people this would be perfect, but I personally find this a bit too much, I have recently tried to cut down on my social media use…
Mae initially struggles to conform to The Circle’s idea that you should share as much information as possible, but is soon persuaded that anything she does is for the greater good. When she goes kayaking, her form of relaxation, surely she should share this experience with people not able to kayak; the sick, the old, and others? asks The Circle. As a result of a misdemeanour when she is kayaking, Mae agrees to start live streaming her entire life. After this point she becomes one of the worlds most recognised people, showing the inner workings of The Circle as well as some parts of her own life. Live streaming, or SeeChanging, becomes the norm for politicians who wish to be seen as transparent. It is at this point that the novel takes a turn away from bildungsroman into politics and social commentary.
Eggers is a great writer, but I don’t think it is necessarily the penmanship that should be admired here. The Circle is, in my opinion, a warning about the future. The content of this novel is scary, foreboding and interesting; do we really need to live in a world in which everyone knows our every moment? Eggers sets these ideas out alongside personal relationships, making the whole novel feel even more real.