The titular Circle is a fictional mix of all things internet (think Facebook + Google + YouTube + Twitter + Fit Bit + Yelp + etc.), a giant corporatioThe titular Circle is a fictional mix of all things internet (think Facebook + Google + YouTube + Twitter + Fit Bit + Yelp + etc.), a giant corporation that through use of easy to access technology is not so slowly taking over the world. The story is mesmerizing swirl of ever escalating interconnections and a form of social pressure that only seems to exist online.
Mae is excited to start a new job and a new life on the cutting edge California campus of the Circle. The story follows the growth of her career from customer service rep to spokesperson. We watch as she gets pulled more and more in to a world where everything is counted, nothing is erased, and privacy is a sin.
Clearly Dave Eggers is not a fan of the trajectory of targeted marketing. He no doubt sees signs of doom in Target’s use of customer analytics to predict upcoming pregnancies and the Amazon ads on your Facebook newsfeed reminding you that you really do want those shoes. I can’t say I blame him, as I harbor those reservations myself, but I wonder how this book would read for someone who thinks of things as a major convenience and an advancement in customer service.
As the story evolves we get glimpses from the outside that things have gone too far, that Mae has gone too far in her obsession with documentation and sharing every little aspect of her life. Her parents and ex-boyfriend serve as our windows into her world and provide accessibility in the way the main character usually tends to do. While we are in Mae’s head, we are not her and her perspective is often hard to fathom.
For example, early on she is brought into a meeting to discuss why she didn’t attend a social gathering she had been invited to (via a blast invite from someone she didn’t know on a topic she wasn’t interested in). While her initial thought is that the coordinator (who seems upset to the point of tears at her callous rejection) is overly sensitive, she very quickly decides that it is she that must adapt and be more considerate. I found myself wanting her to grow a backbone and set reasonable boundaries, rather than capitulating.
Despite not relating to the main character much, I was mesmerized by this book and The Circle’s ever increasing insanity. I read it in less than a week, going back to it again and again as though I were obsessively checking my Facebook newsfeed. ...more
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