We would finally be compelled to be our best selves . . . There would be this phenomenal global sigh of relief. Finally, finally, we can be good. In a world where bad choices are no longer an option.
Egger’s acclaimed satirical thriller about the ever increasing encroachment of technology into our lives has been on my list to read since it came out. The release of the film adaptation finally gave me the excuse I needed to prioritize it and, though I avoided the film, I found the book to be quite good. It’s the story of a young woman who lands a highly coveted job at The Circle, a powerful tech company with its own campus, dorms, free meals, beanbag chairs, etc. etc. It’s a barely heightened Facebook/Google type establishment, but the deeper Mae gets into the company the farther its reach seems to extend. The book is at its best when its being most cuttingly sarcastic. There are some wonderful passages about Mae’s ever increasing workload that just cut right to the heart of corporate culture and the section of the book that deals with the “mandatory fun” angle of the company is dead on target as it dismantles the culture of social networking as a necessity. The Circle is a company where you miss a coworker’s Thai luncheon at the risk of getting a black mark in your file and if you have to stay awake until one in the morning to get your social rank in the company into the top one-hundred, well, then that’s what has to happen. Later, there’s an astonishing passage where Mae struggles to decide about whether or not to click a Like button on a post that goes on for well over a page of interior monologue and at the end, she genuinely feels like she’s made a courageous decision by Liking an anti-terrorism campaign. The thriller elements are a bit thinner and pretty low stakes. There’s a “twist” you’ll see coming a mile away and things ultimately just don’t get all that sinister, or maybe this is my generational bias showing. At over five-hundred pages, it’s overlong, I think, but it’s a very entertaining book and I laughed out loud a lot. Definitely worth a read. 3 ½ stars.
tl;dr – satirical thriller about ever encroaching technology with cutting, hilarious sarcasm that rings absolutely true; too loosely plotted & an anti-climactic climax, but still a fun, brisk read. 3 ½ stars.