Imagine living in a society where privacy is labelled theft. Where one’s actions and personal thoughts are known and recorded. Imagine a world where all must be known, where concealing one’s actions and thoughts is equated to deceiving the world. Dave Eggers brings us one step closer to this reality in his spine-chilling novel, The Circle.

The book begins very innocently. Mae, a small-town girl in her 20s, gets the opportunity of a lifetime when she is employed at The Circle. Described as “the world’s most powerful internet company,” The Circle is a powerful public entity, empowering youth and changing the workings of the world. But behind the impressive technology and mind-blowing inventions, there lies a sinister belief. Transparency is preached to an extreme at The Circle, with most of the company’s projects revolving around the subject. “All that happens must be known,” reads one of the company’s many maxims. As we see our gullible protagonist weave herself deeper into the company’s web, The Circle’s true organizational goal becomes increasingly blatant: gain the power to control the world.

I read The Circle a few days ago and my mind just exploded. It’s funny that a novel that ties in so closely with the current world could leave me so baffled. Maybe it was the actions and consequences of the Circlers, the blinding public, or the naïve protagonist who could have been any of us. The most disturbing part, perhaps, is that our future, given how quickly the world is changing, could easily reflect this novel.

We have grown accustomed to raging battles and wicked men taking over the world in many futuristic novels. But this book is nothing like the dystopian stories we are used to: no visibly oppressed society, no visibly overpowering leader, and no visibly rebellious protagonist. And yes, visibly is highlighted for a reason.

In fact, the novel throws us into a world that bears a striking resemblance to our own.

TruYou, an all-in-one user interface developed by The Circle, is just like the social media sites we are hopelessly addicted to. It combines them, jumbling up all their features into one big program. In fact, TruYou manages to jumble one’s entire life into one big file, recording and saving everything for the world to see.

Let’s take a step back and consider: would we, with our heightened dependence on technology, be hesitant to accept something like TruYou? Would we be able to resist the temptations of accessibility? Of course not.

This novel offers a shocking insight into the inner workings of our own minds. It is clear and simple: for the sake of accessibility, we often throw away our personal information, oblivious to the fact that our data can easily be manipulated.

When I was reading The Circle, I had a thought clawing at the back of my mind. A few years ago, I watched a social experiment on YouTube. A man, posing as a psychic, invited real people to a room and spewed out their entire life history in one sitting: age, income, credit card number, everything. The participants were awed by the man’s ability. But what they didn’t expect was a screen, scrolling down and displaying their social media profiles. It had taken the pseudo psychic only a few clicks to conjure up an image of his clients, using nothing more than their posts.

It’s funny that we don’t realize how much of ourselves is “out there.” If we jumbled together all the fragments of our lives that we have spewed over Facebook and Snapchat, we would get a disturbingly accurate and personal image of ourselves. And do we ever stop to consider how our information is used, where and why it is stored? “The Circle” dares to answer these unsettling questions, and the answers are, well, anything but pretty.

The Circle, hitting the screens on 28 April 2017, couldn’t have come out at a better time. This is a pivotal time in history—a bleak and dark time, yes, but pivotal nonetheless. We have to decide, now, if we are going to continue our blind actions, or if we are going to untangle ourselves from this web. We have to decide now or be prepared for the ‘completion of the circle,’ a time where privacy will cease to exist and the world will never be the same again.