A few years back (9 to be exact), I read The Circle by Dave Eggers. In that book, Eggers painted a future where a dominant technology company encourages users to embrace total transparency. People aren’t forced to give up their privacy, they willingly do so for greater good. When I read the book, it reminded so much of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World where people willingly submit to government surveillance.
Last year, when I saw that Eggers wrote a follow-up to The Circle, I knew I would have to read it. I was curious to see where Eggers would take things in The Every.
The Every is set at some point in the future beyond the end of The Circle. Eggers doesn’t specify the exact timeline. but over that time, The Circle has grown and become even more powerful. The Circle has acquired numerous companies. While Eggers does not call out specific company names, it’s pretty obvious which present day companies have fallen under The Circle’s umbrella. As such, The Circle changes its name to The Every.
The Every, like The Circle, has a primary protagonist, Delaney Wells. Delaney and her boyfriend prefer to live off-the grid and outside the reaches of The Every. They hatch a plan to get Delaney a job at The Every so they can destroy it from within. Delaney gets hired, but their plan doesn’t succeed at destroying the company. If anything it serves to make it stronger, which is where I will leave things to avoid spoiling the story.
The book is a long read, a bit too long in my opinion. Eggers goes into a lot of detail on each Delaney’s rotational assignments as part of her new hire orientation. It creates a lot of characters to keep track of, which can be challenging at times. It get a bit repetitive and redundant. That said, the basic premise of the book is sound. Eggers challenges you to make the trade-offs between surveillance and personal freedom. In each case, he makes a case for both and leaves it to the reader to decide which you think is best.
The first two-thirds of the book is building the story, which can take a while to get through. At least it took me a while. However, if you can make it through the build-up, a payoff awaits over the last third of the story. The action picks up, the plot thickens, and the story reaches a crescendo with a stunning plot twist.
Clearly, The Every is follow-up to The Circle. It’s not necessarily a sequel because the book can stand on its own. The Every recounts enough details from The Circle that you don’t need to read it first, but I would highly recommend it. The Circle is a great book, and truth be told, I enjoyed it more than The Every.
In any case, I would classify The Every as a Fun Read. While it’s not quite as compelling as its predecessor, it’s still a good read and just as disturbing. After I read The Circle, Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore was a great follow-up that restored my faith in humanity. Since The Every made me equally despondent about our tech-driven future, I’m hoping that one of the next read on my book list will serve that same role of restoring my faith in the human race.