Mae Holland is a young woman in a crappy job when she gets the opportunity of a lifetime – a role at The Circle, the most powerful and influential tech company in the world. A hybrid of Facebook, Google, Twitter et al, The Circle is an all-in-one internet identity for users, linking everything from your personal banking, social media, online shopping, health care, internet searches – you name it, it has been consolidated. There’s no agenda here, it’s simply the next logical step to making the internet a more convenient and tailored service for users. Now that there is no anonymity, users are more considerate towards one another; with all your online activity in one place, it truly does offer real connectivity to the people and things you care about.
Mae is thrilled to be a part of the future and be involved in some projects with outstanding benefits – Child Track, which protects children from abduction by microchipping and monitoring their whereabouts, to a preventative health program, where an ingested chip constantly monitors and uploads data to your profile where changes will alert medical services. Mae soon becomes integral to life at The Circle where she experiences just what true integration and sharing is.
This is a fantastic book. Each step towards “completing the circle” (or “closing the circle” depending on your point of view) seems eminently logical. Arguing against each small step towards further integration seems pointless, as individually, each step appears a good idea. But when taken as a big picture, the concept is terrifying. Is privacy a form of theft? What is democracy? What are the rights of the individual versus the rights of a society? At times this may seem a little heavy-handed, but I loved the way this novel led me through the ever-increasing steps towards a totalitarian society, and yet each step seemed entirely justifiable. The concept of communication and friendship – what does it really mean to have those ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ as opposed to meaningful connection? Seriously, this is a wonderful book – one of the best I have read all year.