I first read Dave Eggers over a decade ago when someone recommended his memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, to me. I hated it. I just hated it. It is stream-of-consciousness style writing and I couldn’t get into his head. (It won tons of awards, so it’s worth checking out, and I should give it another go at some point). That said, I effing love McSweeneys, which he founded, and I really, really wanted to like his work. So, a couple of years ago, I gave him another try. This time, I picked a book that I had on the shelf, probably to fit into some book challenge category. I read his non-fiction work, Zeitoun, which is about a Hurricane Katrina survivor, named Zeitoun, who tries to help rescue people with his canoe in the aftermath, but he’s arrested for terrorist activities (he’s innocent, of course) and is put into a make-shift jail. I couldn’t put this book down. Not just because of the story, but also how beautifully it was written. Eggers truly is a talent. So, I was optimistic for The Circle.
One of the book challenge categories is to read a book for a movie you’ve already seen. This is one is hard for me. Aside from books like The Bourne Identity, assorted Tom Clancy books, James Bond, etc I’ve already read the book. I couldn’t think of a single movie I had seen where I hadn’t also read the book. So, I dug into my personal bookshelf. I found The Circle, knew I wanted to read it, visited my local video store (yes, we have one) and watched the movie first, which was a new experience for me. Of course, the book is still better. The ending of the movie is VASTLY different than the book. I loved the book’s ending more. It felt more authentic for the tone of the book.
So, The Circle is like Facebook in this hypothetical world. It is a company, but also a social scene for those who work there. Employees are expected to partake in online and real world events just about every evening and all weekend, along with completing their job tasks. Mae is new and very skeptical of the entire program. However, the company wears her down. The agrees to become “transparent” meaning she wears a camera all day, allowing herself bathroom freedoms only, and after 10pm the camera is optional. Everything she sees, her viewers see. Slowly, The Circle takes over. Politicians become transparent. Cameras are everywhere. Criminals are tracked. But what happens to those who don’t join The Circle, when not joining isn’t an option? Eggers has written 1984 for the new world with this book. I was blown away and terrified.