The Circle by Dave Eggers is the story of Mae Holland – a twenty-something working at The Circle, a Google- Apple- Microsoft-like conglomerate that is the technology center of the country, nay, the world. Mae is awe-struck at the vastness of The Circle’s campus and of its presence in nearly every aspect of a person’s life. After Mae’s arrival at The Circle her colleagues push out such inventions as SeeChange (a tiny, inexpensive camera that anyone can install anywhere, including around their necks to promote transparency) and TruYouth (a tracking device injected into the bone of every infant so they can never be lost, and also tracks their academic standings, health records, etc). They sound harmless – helpful even – but Mae’s ex-boyfriend Mercer believes otherwise and fears The Circle’s impending all-encompassing control.
Mae doesn’t drink the Kool-Aid at first. She goes an entire weekend without sending one Zing (Tweet), posting one Smile (like), or uploading pictures of her meals, her kayak trip, or of another daily activity. She is reprimanded by higher-ups who feel that her lack of posting shows she doesn’t care about sharing her experience with others. Her best friend, Annie, a heavy-hitter at The Circle, encourages her to do more with The Circle’s social scene, and Mae quickly becomes entranced by the place.
Then she goes transparent, being the first person to wear SeeChange for all of her waking hours. Her life is shown live, a la The Truman Show, but a couple people are afraid of what will come next for The Circle, and the world, if such technology is commonplace.
The Circle is by the great Dave Eggers – Zeitoun is one of the most intriguing and affecting nonfiction books I’ve read. But unfortunately I felt this most recent one was a bit contrived. Maybe I read too much dystopia as it is, because this felt like just another on the pile. A technology company takes over the world by creating seemingly-harmless products, but those who want to maintain their privacy freak out and think it’s the end of the world. And even the “bad guys” aren’t that bad. They truly think they are doing good – keeping children safe from kidnappers, aiding in the health care system, forcing the government to be transparent and accountable for their actions – so you can’t hate them (although you do find them a bit odd and obsessed).
Anyone who isn’t burned out from other dystopia or controlling-technology books. Definitely teens who like to read adult novels. Except for a couple PG sex inferences, this one is appropriate for older teens.
Machine Man by Max Barry and Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson.