The Circle is definitely a page turner, a thriller, and I like its premise (or at least what I think its premise is): What would happen if Google, Facebook, and Amazon became one company? Nothing in this book is too far off or too far-fetched. It’s all happening right now — or at least soon — and it’s scary.
The book is this generation’s 1984. George Orwell’s three mantras, including “War is Peace,” are substituted with their more modern versions, including “Sharing is Caring.” “Circlers” also believe that “everything must be known,” which is just a small step from Google’s current mission to make all the world’s information available to everyone. If everyone lived transparently (Mark Zuckerberg’s hope), there would be less crime and other nefarious deeds. Why keep things secret if you’re living a reputable life?
Some critics of this book don’t like the main character Mae and call her gullible. Why can’t Mae be more like 1984‘s Winston? My thinking is that Dave Eggers wanted Mae to be this way. He wants to remind us that we are Mae. Though we want to be some heroic figure that will fight against our impending doom, the reality is that we’re not. We just want to check our phones and send tweets.
Overall, I really liked this book and ripped through it, but I wish it were a bit shorter and tightened up. There are several subplots, and too much of the writing relied on dialogue. But I think that some of my students would like it. It definitely sends a powerful and scary message of where we’re headed.
If you’ve read The Circle, please leave your thoughts!