The Book Nook

Title: “The Circle”

Author: Dave Eggers

Genre: Science Fiction

Madeleine Schwartz/The Quadrangle

Technology is everywhere. There is no point in denying it. Problems that were once impossible to overcome are now solved and feats that were unimaginable have now been accomplished. Author Dave Eggers takes a futuristic look at the power technology wields in his latest book.

“The Circle,” written in 2013, is very much influenced by what is currently happening in society as we evolve in the digital age. Right now, there is an emphasis on smartphones and digital health trackers and especially communication via social networks. Dave Eggers takes this information to help him create a futuristic world ruled by technology.

The novel starts by introducing its main character, Mae Holland, as she starts work at one of the world’s most powerful Internet companies, aptly named The Circle. The reader follows her on her first day at the office and can feel her excitement and awe as she reaches campus.

The Circle headquarters are located in sunny California and is a mix between a college campus and the offices of Facebook and Twitter on steroids. There is an open floor plan, glass buildings, dining facilities, sports arenas, dorm buildings, and even an aquarium.  World-renowned musicians and artists are brought in during the day and also at night to give expeditions and entertain employees.

As Holland gets settled into her job at The Circle, the reader learns more about the company as a whole and its influence on society. The business model of The Circle is focused on bringing transparency to the digital age by giving user’s a singular online identity. Its technology links emails, social media, banking, and online purchasing together in one account.

Eggers also introduces the reader to the leaders of The Circle. The Three Wise Men, or CEO’s of the company, are the masterminds behind all new technological advances. All with different personalities and purposes, these men are at the very top. Under them but still with substantial power, is the Gang of 40. These are the top 40 people working at the Circle. Everyone wants to be apart of this elite group and only the most dedicated can get in.

Everyone that Holland meets at The Circle praises its inventions and thrives in the close-knit community. For the first half of the book, there isn’t a single person, including the reader, who doubts the intentions of The Circle or its leaders. However, this changes when Holland meets a man named Kalden in Book 2.

Kalden opens the reader’s eyes to the dangers The Circle and its inventions pose. One particular technology that he is opposed to is called See Change. It allows cameras the size of golf balls to be put anywhere in the world and be checked by anyone. At a beach, on a park bench and even within a home. The Circle goes further and uses this technology to allow people to “go transparent” by wearing a camera 24/7.

By the time Kalden’s warnings are sent, the reader has realized that The Cirlce’s intentions of creating transparency in a digital age are not pure. Eggers brings up questions about the right to privacy and anonymity. He also brings up ideas of transparency in the government and positions of leadership. The reader is shown scenes that make them rethink the importance of knowing everything there is to know.

I chose to read “The Circle” because I can see where Eggers drew his inspiration from. The clear connection between today’s technology obsession and that seen in his writing is fascinating. I also enjoyed reading this novel because of the twists and turns throughout it. In particular, there are a few massive surprises at the end, which completely took me off guard and in the end, made me love the book even more.