Dave Eggers’ novel The Circle explores the dangers of big technology companies threatening individuals’ rights to privacy.
The novel’s structure is largely chronological, following Mae Holland’s perspective from the moment she starts working at The Circle until the moment when she becomes completely indoctrinated by its ideas. The narrative also includes examples of flashbacks and foreshadowing.
The main character is Mae Holland, a young woman who starts working at The Circle. Mae makes an unusual main character, because she is not necessarily a sympathetic character; it is clear from the beginning that Mae’s way of seeing the world is flawed. By the end, she has lost most of her more relatable character traits and seems almost inhuman.
The story also includes a collection of other characters, including Mae’s parents and her ex-boyfriend Mercer, who represent an alternative to the way of thinking at The Circle. Within the company, Mae has affairs with Francis (who is developing child tracking technology) and Kalden/Ty (a mysterious figure who turns out to be the original inventor of The Circle). Other important characters include Mae’s best friend Annie (who works at The Circle) and The Circle’s two CEOs Eamon Bailey and Tom Stenton.
The story’s setting is an imaginary future that is not very different from our present reality. In the world of the novel, a huge technology company called The Circle is taking over every aspect of human life both online and offline. Much of the story takes place in the huge office complex owned by The Circle. This is contrasted with Mae’s visits to her parents’ house and to the San Francisco Bay, where she goes kayaking.
The story is told by a third-person narrator. The narrator has limited knowledge and follows Mae’s perspective throughout the novel, with access to her thoughts and feelings. This helps viewers to understand Mae’s ideas and actions, even when they are not sympathetic.
The language includes a number of invented words used by The Circle to describe their products or their ways of working. This is one way in which The Circle brainwashes its employees and users.