The first book to be discussed during our high tea party is “The Circle” by Dave Eggers, a book I’ve received as graduation present and one I’ve enjoyed greatly.

More than just telling a thought-provoking story, The Circle presents a dystopian future of our society where the online aspects of our lives are much more important than the offline ones.

The closed circle

Just by looking at the cover you already get a first hint about the overall idea of the book: an inter-connected network with an almost completed circle in the middle.

The story raises awareness about the potential future developments of on-going trends, such as datification of everything, increased transparency, and pressure of being continuously active online. As Tim Martin from The Daily Telegraph puts it, the book sends a “Google-gone-wrong message”, depicting the situation where a single company controls all flows of information.

The Circle in a nutshell

The story presents the journey of Mae Holland as she starts working for the powerful company The Circle. The initially interesting and very much desired job evolves into a race to have the highest ParticipationRank (which measures the online activity), the highest rating from customers, the highest number of smiles and zings … does any of this sound familiar?

As the story unfolds, a secondary view emerges – that of the company’s initiator and his inner turmoil, as his invention gets out of control and follows a path he hadn’t envisioned in the first place:

“I didn’t intend any of this to happen. [..] I did not intend a world where Circle membership was mandatory, where all government and all life was channeled through one network… “

Overall impression

Sprinkled with erotic scenes and spooky events, the book is a challenging read that will make you question the current internet-related developments. My personal conclusion after reading it can be very well summarized by the following quote from the book: 

“We are not meant to know everything, Mae. Did you ever think that perhaps our minds are delicately calibrated between the known and the unknown? That our souls need the mysteries of night and the clarity of day?”

What about you – have you read future-oriented books? Do you have any recommendations?

‘Till next time … happy reading! 


PS: It was nice to see that Brâncuşi, a Romanian sculptor, was mentioned in the book:

“She stared at his face, which in the suddenly blue light was like some Brâncuşi sculpture – smooth, perfectly oval” 

PPS: the movie inspired by the book will be released in 2017, starring Tom Hanks and Emma Watson

2 thoughts on “Dystopian spotlight on technology: The Circle by Dave Eggers (book review)

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