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Book Review of Dave Eggers’ The Circle by Grace Augustin

I was first introduced to Dave Eggers my freshman year, when we read Zeitoun in my creative writing topics class.  I fell in love with the book, but after that, I forgot about the book and the author for awhile.  But then, two years later, I read the very same book for a rhetoric class, and was reminded of how much I enjoyed his writing.

Around the same time, I came across an intriguing movie trailer starring Emma Watson and Tom Hanks for a film called “The Circle.”  I started watching the trailer quite often, and when I finally looked up the trailer, I noticed that the movie was based off a book written by Dave Eggers!  And then I knew that no matter how excited I was to watch the movie, I had to read the book first.

And so, that summer, I put it on hold at the library in Chicago, and when the book was finally ready for pickup, I devoured the 504-page book in about a week.  I even had the book handy as I watched movies at home with my mom and sister, reading a paragraph or section between breaks.  It reminded me of the way I read when I was a child, before I had my own smartphone to distract and entertain me.  I was the kind of child who got in trouble for reading in the wrong place or at the wrong time, and I felt a little like that.  I had a hard time putting the book down, and yet also found it incredibly easy to immerse myself back into this dystopian world as soon as I picked it up again.

I thought that the book was so terrifyingly realistic in the way that it portrayed how technology can take over the world.  But it didn’t talk about it in the sense of robot armies turning against humans with violence.  Instead, it still placed humans at direct fault, with technology being a tool that was ultimately used to destruct and invade, even though it was presented as something that would inspire and protect.

HUGE SPOILER AHEAD: I also found it incredibly fitting that Ty is the one who wanted to destroy the company – it was because he had such intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the company, and because of his immediate role in creating it, that he knew just what a terrifying and unstoppable force it could be.

Mae started out as a very likeable character, a sort of every woman, but by the end, she had become a seemingly heartless, brainwashed robot.  She prided herself on individualistic thought when she first started working at The Circle, but by the end, it seemed that she had lost her ability to critically analyze the situation.  Instead, she only saw what she wanted to see: a brilliant company that changed the world for the better.  I think that what happened to Mae is somewhat similar to what happened to the company itself.  The Circle started out as a company that wanted to do good and to improve people’s lives, but instead it became a company that invaded.  Those over the company talked a lot about how they wanted to help people to become their “best selves,” but instead what happened is that people lost a sense of their true selves.  Mae became so detached to who she once had been that, although she gained millions of fake friends online in the form of social media followers, she lost important connections with her former boyfriend, her best friend, and her parents.

The Circle is an excellent read that delves into the issues of privacy, and how the ever-changing technology might impact our world.

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