The Circle by Dave Eggers
This book will resonate with anyone who has a Facebook, Twitter or any social media account. Mae Holland is in her early twenties and working at a dead-end job at her hometown utility company, when she gets the ____ opportunity to work for the Circle. The Circle isn’t just another Silicon Valley startup, it’s the most powerful company on the net that promotes lifestyle as well as online connections with friends. Although Mae starts in the lowly customer service department, her college friend Annie tells her that everyone begins there and has the chance to rise as much as they’re willing to work. The newbie soon becomes engrossed in the Circle lifestyle, where the free cafeteria food is prepared by master chefs, famous musicians vie for the privilege of playing for free on the sprawling lawns, there are parties and events nearly every evening and weekend, and the company even supplies dorm rooms for employees who work late and want to avoid the drive home. Soon, Mae has four different computer screens on her desk, but finds that if she really applies herself she can keep up. She just wonders how others work this hard and still have energy for meetings, events and concerts nearly every night. Finally, she begins to realize that the Circle IS the employees’ life, everything they do is connected to that or at the minimum Zing (Tweet) about it to their social circle. When she meets a mysterious man named Kalden, he speaks against the goals of the Circle, but she can’t seem to get him out of her mind. When she can’t find him anywhere online, she gets more and more concerned.
This dystopian take on social media is a worthy look at where our society is headed, especially the millennials who seem to have one hand permanently on their iPhones or iPads. Although it’s been said that this title offers nothing new to the discussion, I disagree. I think that the currency and straight-forward storytelling of the book will give many younger readers the impetus to start reflecting on our culture, our dependence on our electronic devices and social media, and the way our relationships change as we lose our rights privacy. I recommend it to fans of the dystopian genre, readers who already like Eggers writing, and anyone willing to take a thoughtful look at their own online behavior.