Kim's Staff Pick (December 2013): Nobody could blame you for thinking that the Circle in Dave Eggers’ new novel is just another name for Google – or Apple, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. It’s not, Eggers claims – though that’s all but impossible to believe, given the similarities. Instead, the Circle is a mega-corporation that has, in the near-future world of The Circle, devoured all of the above – it is not one of these companies, but all of them. And, through this corporate consumption, the Circle has gobbled up all of us, along with its competitors.
The Circle is the first attempt I’ve seen in contemporary literature that paints, in vivid detail, the consequences of living in a world that shuns the ideal of privacy. Unlike its predecessor, George Orwell’s 1984, however, it explores the path to tyranny rather than a world consumed by it, far beyond the point of no return. But its world is not just similar to our own – it is our world, if to a less extreme degree. It makes its point – that total transparency is tyranny – without question, and with dire consequences for its characters.