The Circle – Dave Eggers

I’m a huge fan of dystopian novels, and I read The Circle (2013) by Dave Eggers a couple of years ago. I recently saw the trailer for the upcoming film adaptation of it, starring Emma Watson (yay!) and so thought I’d reread it and post my thoughts on here…

Imagine a world where everything you do is being watched, where everyone is connected and secrets are considered lies…

Dave Eggers The Circle is a novel based on a world like that. Initially appearing perfect, heading towards what is portrayed as a utopian society, The Circle itself is a social media corporation, masterminded by, as they are known, the Three Wise Men. The Circle has swallowed sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google, and people use Zing, which is basically an impressive, state-of-the-art social media site. Every photo, every video, every comment is stored in the Cloud and deleting is not an option.

The story follows Mae Holland, who is starting a job at The Circle, and is overwhelmed and hugely impressed by the incredible facilities, the welcoming atmosphere and the huge opportunities the job creates. I mean, who wouldn’t want to work somewhere with free food, health care, the most up-to-date phones and tablets at your disposal, regular parties and comfortable free rooms if you can’t be bothered to go home in the evening? I won’t lie, when I first starting reading the book, I thought “Wow. That sounds brilliant!” …I then tried to imagine what it would be like if we could connect so easily to everyone, know where people were, have the ability to contact them, and the knowledge that no data we had – photos, videos, conversations would ever be lost…but the more I read of the book, the more I questioned my initial reaction, and by the end I had formed a very different opinion. Elements of it reminded me of the TV series Black Mirror, and some parts of it felt all too familiar…

I don’t want to ruin any of the story so won’t go into any more detail about what else goes on at The Circle, it’s an amazing read and well-worth it, and one of the best things about the story was just how much it made me think about the way in which we view society, and the way in which our lives are maybe becoming less private. A key quote from the book stuck in my mind once I’d finished – “Privacy is theft” – the notion that keeping something private is essentially robbing someone else of the chance to learn or to see something.

If anyone else has read The Circle, I’d love to know your thoughts!