Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction, Dystopia
When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency.
As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO.
Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in America – even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.
Everyone was talking about this book and it sounded amazing! I know it has recently become a film with Emma Watson so I really wanted to check this out before watching the film (even though it is yet to get a UK release date).
In this book we follow Mae as she starts her new job at the world’s biggest company – The Circle. We see how amazing a company it is and that every need is covered by them. However we then follow as more information is required by the circle and how they are making it so that nothing is unknown.
So for the first half of this book I was loving it! I loved hearing about the campus and how the circle works to ensure that everyone is taken care of and if you need a room/healthcare/gym etc everything is covered for free when you work for the company. You could see that it was becoming a little creepy however for the first half it was just fun to see how it was progressing.
Then towards the second half of the book is where it gets really creepy, the circle wants to know absolutely everything and wants everyone in the world to be on camera 24/7 so that every piece of information can be known. Our main character Mae has no idea about how creepy this sounds and is quite happy wearing the camera while visiting family, friends or even peeing. This is when the cracks started to show in this book, the main character just seemed so innocent and didn’t care about everything being known, at no point did she actually stop and think that this is a little creepy. Then we meet a mysterious stranger who cannot be tracked, has access to everywhere on campus and lives in a cave…creepy right? Mae doesn’t seem to think so, then he starts going on about how the circle should never be completed. This is then a repeating theme throughout the book, the mysterious stranger showing up and telling Mae that the circle should not be completed and that it will bring the apocalypse.
Finally something the book is building up to right? That’s what I thought as I plowed on through 500 pages where nothing really happens except the circle gets creepier and Mae goes canoeing a lot. However I got to the final page and….nothing. It had the most disappointing ending ever, nothing at all happened, no apocalypse, nothing. So for 500 pages it builds up to this great apocalypse but it never actually happened. It got me thinking what did actually happen in this book? Basically nothing, just a lot of creepiness of a company trying to learn everything and inventing new ways to do so. Anyone that goes against the circle is killed or arrested, however Mae decides to ignore this even though she literally sees the evidence for herself.
I think with Mae not really questioning anything that the company asks of her makes her character very unbelievable. If my boss asked me to wear a camera 24/7 I would definitely question it, especially if millions of viewers would be able to see it at any point. However Mae just accepts it and I don’t know anyone who would be ok with that. Nobody seems to question the creepy ideas though, at one point the guy describes how he sneaked into his nans house while she was sleeping to install cameras to check on how she is remotely…oh yeah not creepy at all but everyone seems perfectly ok with this like it is the most natural thing in the world to install unknown cameras in your nans house. Yeah totally normal.
So as a recap, this book is 500 pages of nothing. I think the 5 stars that everyone gives for this book is because of the idea behind the circle and not the actual story itself. I liked the ideas in this book and it definitely makes you question what is going to happen in the future. Therefore my rating for this book is 3 stars because I really liked about 3/4 of the book, I enjoyed the ideas, the learning how creepy the circle could be etc. however for me the ending was absolutely dreadful and the main character isn’t even remotely likeable therefore it just wasn’t great.
Summing up: Creepy ideas but dreadful ending