This image must have been used for promotion since it pinpoints the release date (which was in 2013), but I included it in this post because the description of The Circle is dead on.
Imagine that Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Google decided to mesh their businesses into one. They set up one account that’s entirely YOU – all of your information in under one name, one file, floating in the cloud. They set up closed-circuit cameras everywhere and
encourage expect you to post photos and videos from all of your daily activities, because it would be selfish of you not to share every aspect of your life with others. You are to comment on other’s posts and invite everyone into your network. Everything you do online is tracked, sorted, tagged, and rated in the business’s database for easy access. This is all so we can be in community with one another, connected in every way possible, and entirely invested in each other’s lives.
Yes, I’m feeling claustrophobic too. But I tell you what friends, you need to read The Circle. It is the best cautionary tale of our time.
Mae Holland is twenty-four years old and just landed a job at The Circle, a company designed to meet your every need online and otherwise. Of course it’s based in northern California. Its campus is all-inclusive – meals, dormitories, lecture halls, health clubs, and everything else one might need to enjoy life. In between all the perks are the work stations and glass walls – because everything at The Circle is transparent. Transparency, according to the The Wise Men who created the company, is the only way to live. If we’re all laid bare, no one can keep secrets and then no one can get hurt.
Mae immediately buys into the notion that The Circle’s ideology is sound. If our best interests are at the center of these programs, where’s the harm? And sure, she’ll swallow a sensor so The Circle’s medical team can monitor her vitals 24/7.
Oh friends, if I could implore you to read one book this year, it’s this one. It feels blasphemous to type this review on a blog, knowing I’ll post it on my Facebook page and then link it in my Twitter feed. Everything about The Circle makes me want to go off the grid and go back to a time of snail mail and passing notes and not needing a single password to conduct my life. If ever there was a story that makes me question the power of technology and social media, it’s this one.
Conceptually, The Circle is a home run. The characters, however, are straight up archetypes. They are as predictable as they come, though in this case that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I found myself so wrapped up in the company and its on-goings that the characters were secondary to the plot. That almost doesn’t make sense, but if you consider that companies like The Circle already exist, you”ll spend all 497 pages wondering if this level of insanity will exist in your lifetime.
And then you want to delete every social media account you have.