The title of this disturbing book refers to a technology company located on a beautiful campus somewhere on the west coast. There are approximately eleven thousand “Circlers” or employees and they enjoy amenities such as free food, free concerts, endless recreational opportunities and even free dorms. It’s a wonder any work gets done at all.
Mae Holland is lucky enough (she thinks) to land a low level “Customer Experience” job here and is excited at the prospect. But from the time of her orientation, things just don’t feel right, at least for the reader. Her old laptop and phone are taken away and all files transferred to a new company phone. She barely puts up a fuss as all her files are uploaded to the company’s server “in the cloud”. Her workspace consists of an increasing amount of screens that she has to keep track of and prioritize. Instead of questioning this workload, she happily submits, thinking that she is working in the center of the universe, where everything happens.
But we find out as we work our way through this circle of hell, that the company has other plans for its employees and the world. Everything they develop and market is aimed at taking away our privacy under the guise of convenience or safety.
As the book moves too slowly toward its climax, the reader can’t help but wonder why no one is questioning anything this company does. The Circlers all seem to be drones, intent on following the lead of their employer. Maybe this is the ultimate lesson for our time. Maybe we should look up from our screens from time to time and see what is actually going on in the world around us. Although not in the class of 1984 by George Orwell, The Circle is a piercing look at our present times and the price we are paying or will pay for our reliance on and infatuation with technology. A movie version is slated to come out in April starring Emma Watson and Tom Hanks. Read a copy now while there is still no hold list!
— Reviewed by Mike Nelson, Mount Pleasant Regional Library, Mount Pleasant, SC.
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