Summary of The Circle

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  • Controversial
  • Comprehensive
  • Engaging


In this dystopian novel, Dave Eggers – author of A Heart-Breaking Work of Staggering Genius – imagines a world where people gladly trade their privacy for convenience and connection. A giant Internet corporation known as “the Circle” mines consumer data, floods the world with tiny cameras, compels politicians to broadcast their entire lives in the name of transparency and intends to install tracking chips in children. The leaders of the Circle believe that a world without privacy or secrets will be free of crime, corruption and human rights abuses. To achieve this utopia, these executives believe, the Circle must control all information. Eggers made his name as a post-modernist, but here his prose proves straightforward and conventional. His weak link is characterization: The protagonist is as exasperatingly malleable as a horror-movie damsel, the corporate managers are cartoonish and the off-the-grid antagonist speaks in manifestos. Despite this flaw, getAbstract recommends this futuristic parable for its vivid vision of a terrifying, techno-world with no privacy. Savvy cynics might even find a business idea or two in its pages.

About the Author

Dave Eggers, founder of McSweeney’s Publishing, wrote the award-winning A Heart-Breaking Work of Staggering Genius and the National Book Award finalist, A Hologram for the King.



A New World

Mae Holland reveled in her good fortune at starting a job at “the Circle”: the world’s hippest, hottest Internet company. Its California campus was a sprawling wonderland of glass and steel, rolling lawns, tennis courts, a gym and a yoga room. She got the job with the help of Annie, her college roommate, one of the “Gang of 40” decision makers at the firm.

The Circle was the brainchild of the legendary techno-whiz kid Ty Gospodinov, whose “TruYou” platform revolutionized the Internet. Consumers could consolidate their online activities – shopping, banking and social media – into one secure account. Then the Circle’s marketers could harvest granular data on consumer behavior and preferences. Ty was a visionary, not a businessman, so he hired two executives, Eamon Bailey and Tom Stenton, to run the Circle. As they built it into a behemoth that devoured its competitors, Eamon and Tom became the firm’s public face. Ty grew reclusive, but most employees assumed he lived somewhere on campus.


On her first day, Mae noticed posters with inspirational inscriptions: “Find Community,” read one. “Participate,” urged another. Community and...

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