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Our Future Awaits....,
This review is from: The Circle (Paperback)
One of the most remarkable things about Dave Eggers’ dystopian novel The Circle is that it hadn’t been written already. Of course (I hear you say), it has, in the form of Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World, as well as having elements of its scope covered in other media – the likes of Peter Weir’s 1998 film The Truman Show and (perhaps) most closely in Charlie Brooker’s frequently brilliant TV dramas Black Mirror (and, quite probably, in other sources I have just not come across or, equally likely, forgotten). But with The Circle, Eggers pulls together just about every thread (almost too systematically, one feels) of 'intrusive technology’ that I (as an unashamed Luddite) can think of – Google, Facebook, Twitter, Big Brother, TV 'talent’ shows, the 'surveillance society’, the corporate 'family’, artificial intelligence, Julian Assange (namedropped here), Leveson, etc, etc – and, most remarkably of all, manages to craft what is (for me, at least) a narrative which matches the novel’s cover blurb – 'prescient’ and 'unputdownable’.
As The Circle’s 'anti-heroine’, twenty-something ex-utility (i.e. 'dull’) worker Mae, finds her life and work transformed (and, effectively, morphed into one) at 'go get ‘em’, 'Silicon Valley’ tech company, The Circle (all-surrounding, geddit?), the only minor flaw I detected in Eggers’ narrative was the speed with which Mae is transformed from a CE (Customer Experience) ‘assistant’ through to being one of the most trusted advisers of the company’s management or Three Wise Men. Pretty much everything else though – obsession with personal self-aggrandisement, technology addiction, public trolling, alienation from 'normal family life’, pressure to conform, 'rubber-necking’ prurience, etc – are absolutely 'on the mark’ (and probably far too accurate for many people). Along the way, Eggers also peppers his story with his trademark quirky characters and metaphors (e.g. the all-devouring 'basic instinct’ of the shark). Of course, the author’s works often blur the boundaries between fact and fiction – although a 'novelisation’ I always view his devastating tale of Sudanese Valentino Achak Deng in What Is The What as closer to non-fiction – and, likewise, The Circle tracks 'real-life’ very closely and is all the more powerful for it.