The BUZZ: A finalist for the National Book Award, this fast-paced novel will be of interest to anyone who has used social media. In any way. Ever.
The GIST: Wide-eyed Mae Holland has been hired by the Circle, the largest, hippest, most powerful technology company in the world. The Circle’s stated mission is simple: connect everyone. The corporate campus is a paradise; employees are generously given every amenity they can imagine. Mae, a recent college grad, starts in a low-level customer service job and quickly learns the ropes. The novel tells the story of her transformation from skeptic to convert while the reader watches in disbelief. More than once you’ll close the book and wonder, “how can she be so naive?”; then you’ll post something on FaceBook, or do a Google search, or order something on Amazon, and you’ll forget all about idealistic Mae Holland. Which is, of course, Eggers’ point.
The WRITING: Brisk and deceptively lighthearted. Eggers draws us into the world of the Circle with gathering speed, so that we begin to accept the relentless stripping away of privacy just as Mae does. Eggers’ style is straightforward, which makes him highly readable and is in keeping with his theme. He doesn’t waste time with long character studies, nor does he get preachy. There are a few obvious metaphors, but even those are expected by the time they arrive. Eggers is like an entertaining tour guide, one preventing you from looking in dark corners as you race by plot points that make you squeamish.
BUY or BORROW?: Buy, borrow, lend – do whatever you want, just read the book. This is the world we live in (or will live in) if we put everything about ourselves on the internet. It’s a cautionary tale about throwing caution to the wind, and a harsh reminder that corporations don’t have our best interests at heart. And it’s a fun and captivating read.
QUOTE: “Outside the walls of the Circle, all was noise and struggle, failure and filth. But here, all had been perfected. The best people had made the best systems and the best systems had reaped funds, unlimited funds, that made possible this, the best place to work.”