On the surface, the Circle is about the dual nature of technology — enabling instantaneous knowledge and fulfilment, but also limitless surveillance.
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However, the book also touches on deeper concepts. When does the right of the individual trump that of the community? Is reaching a group consensus always the fairest way to make decisions, or is it a shortcut to poorly considered policy? If no information is ever forgotten, can time still heal all wounds? Can a person know too much?

The book follows Mae, who has just been offered a job at The Circle, a company created when a developer became frustrated at having to sign into multiple platforms across the internet to participate in discussions or make purchases. He developed a universal operating system, the foundation of a mega company with bottomless pockets and momentous clout, socially and politically.

Working at the Circle is a dream come true for Mae. True, some of the requirements of the job take some getting used to — for example the pressure to maintain a high “party rank”, which keeps track how many social media posts she makes and comments on — but the campus is beyond her wildest imaginings. And anything can happen at the Circle. It’s the opposite of the old fashioned stodgy workplaces she hates.

As time passes, Mae becomes further and further drawn into the ideology of the Circle. Secrets are lies. Sharing is caring. Privacy is theft. She races ever faster towards the company’s mysterious ideal of “closing the circle”. No one knows what that will entail, but one thing is certain. Society will be changed forever.

I read a lot of post apocalyptic fiction. I often wonder when I’m reading it if the more interesting story would be at the time of the apocalypse rather than after it. This story reminded me that apocalypses don’t always arrive with a bang. Sometimes it’s a slow slide into armageddon.

Because everything the circle does seems so reasonable at first. Of course it makes sense to track everyone’s health using a bracelet — flu outbreaks can be stopped before they really start. Of course it makes sense to have cheap cameras that can be planted anywhere without people knowing. After all, you’ve been very worried about your parents’ as they get older — the cameras give you peace of mind.

But at what point does it become too much? And have we already passed it?

I’m going to give this book a 3.5/5.

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