by Deborah Rogers –
What a pleasure to be able to hold our book club at the library again and talk together in person. Dave Eggers certainly gave us lots to discuss with The Every, a terrifying vision of a near future where the world is in the grip of a large tech company. The book is a follow up to his novel The Circle, though readers didn’t need to have read the first to understand or appreciate the sequel. The novel jumps you straight into a paranoid world where big tech is always watching, and introduces the central character Delaney, who is determined to do something to disrupt the sinister path she sees society heading down.
Eggers uses an understated style to portray some truly terrifying behaviour, and what makes it especially chilling is that nothing in the book seemed very many steps away from where tech companies are today. The Every is a thinly veiled amalgamation of Google and Amazon. They provide endless useful apps to help us go about our daily lives, and as we’re working, shopping, exercising and communicating, the Every is gathering information. When people are continuously surveyed their behaviour changes; through their ever-so-useful technology the Every subtly manipulates the way people do things, and eventually the way they think.
There are so many memorable episodes in the book that take a very relatable situation and then descend into farce, such as Delaney’s off-campus trip to show her coworkers the elephant seals on a nearby beach. Eggers is especially strong at revealing the fragility of humans, and their increasing fear of anything in the world that can’t be controlled. There’s a lot going on in this book: our group discussed the themes of mechanisation, free will, rebellion and shame as a tool to modify behaviour. We felt the book was prescient and reflected many current concerns.
Everyone who attended our meeting had been in equal parts fascinated and disturbed by the world Eggers portrays, but I know that not all our readers felt the same. Some found the book far-fetched, absurd or simply not engaging. That is the pleasure of book club: to get a window into other people’s reactions and understanding.
Our next meeting takes place on July 12, 6:30 p.m. at the Sidney/North Saanich Library in the Nell Horth Room. Everyone is welcome! We will be discussing Sea of Tranquility, the brand new novel from Emily St. John Mandel. There is a book club set of this book available through the library; please contact them to put your name down. If you want to get updates about book club selections and meetings please sign up for our newsletter: https://seasidemagazine.ca/book-club/.