The Plot: Newly graduated and ambitious, Mae is determined to rise through the ranks when she joins mega-corporation The Circle. By linking users personal emails, social media and finances together, The Circle has heralded a new age of internet transparency, people can no longer hide anonymously behind a screen, troll or catfish without consequences. However this new accountability begins to threaten privacy and liberty.
Rating: «««¶¶ (3/5)
Full review under the cut *warning may contain spoilers*
The book suffers as Mae is a pretty irritating protagonist. She is easily manipulated, and has a desperate need to be liked. Her lack of backbone annoyed me, young people are more savvy then Eggers gives them credit for. To advance her career Mae agrees to wear a camera that records her every move and is uploaded to the internet for people to watch and interact with. Doubts about credibility aside, the idea of transparency is terrifying. So I guess this kind of works as a piece of speculative fiction, I was wondering about what I'd do in the same situation, but because it didn't feel believable it was more of a theoretical exercise than a alternate reality.
Another problem I had was there seemed to be a few subplots that just fizzled out into nothing. For example when Mae is secretly filmed performing a sex act (ha that phrase reminds me of Jeremy Kyle) there are no consequences. There are other instances as well, were I was a bit confused why they had been included at all as they did add to the story and seemed unfinished.
I didn't hate The Circle, it is immensely readable and there are some genuinely funny parts and clever observations. I just couldn't help but think Orwell's Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four does the same thing but more succinctly. I also predict The Circle won't enjoy the same longevity as Orwell's classics and will date pretty quickly. Still, if you're looking for a diverting and topical novel give The Circle a chance. If you've all read it, and are looking for a similar book I'd suggest PopCo by Scarlett Thomas.