The Circle

The Circle

A Novel

Book - 2013
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"The Circle is the exhilarating new novel from Dave Eggers, best-selling author of A Hologram for the King, a finalist for the National Book Award. When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world's most powerful internet company, she feels she's been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users' personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company's modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can't believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world--even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman's ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2013.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780385351393
Characteristics: 491 pages ; 23 cm

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k
kmobuckeye
Feb 22, 2019

Pretty creepy and thought provoking

s
swheeler89
Feb 06, 2019

Great concept, poor execution. Probably 100 pages too long, but effectively shows the transformation of an innocent girl into a monster. Also found it odd that there were no chapter breaks.

laurendouglass Jan 30, 2019

Whether you love or loath social media, the cloud, and the sea change that technology has brought to our society, The Circle by Dave Eggers is a wonderfully suspenseful novel.  Not suspense in the traditional sense, like a whodunnit mystery or an espionage laced thriller.  But rather suspense in how far Eggers can push the central purpose and mission of The Circle, the fictional company at the heart of the novel, which is "to know all, see all and share all", towards its logical, frightening conclusion.  And, in doing to, can he keep from veering into the ridiculous and manage to say something meantingful about the intersection of technology and human society and relationships?

I think he has succeeded with this novel, and though this isn't the best thing by Eggers that I have read (although I must admit I have not read all his stuff, something I hope to remedy this year), and I would never call this novel subtle, I think this is more accessible to a wider range of people than his first work, A heartbreaking work of staggering genius (which I loved).

I've also read some of the criticism of this book, specifically from those in the tech industry who have argued that the author doesn't understand how the internet works.  For those folks I only have one question, "You do know how fiction works, right?"  Many have argued that Eggers failed with this book specifically because he didn't heavily research the current state of technology, or interview people in the tech field.  They complain that technology doesn't exist that can do what Eggers describes, and that users would never behave the way they do in the book.

This struck me as funny because personally, I think the "killer app" in the book, the thing that makes everything gel together, is humanity's need "to know all, to see all and share all".  The technology Eggers creates (remember people, fiction!) is just a tool the characters use to satisfy their own desire for connection, approval, control and safety.  The Circle just ties it all together.

c
coreAgogo
Dec 14, 2018

Mae is hired by The Circle, a Google-like tech company that has it's own zip code in The Bay Area. The longer she works there, the more she uncovers The Circle's sinister ideas regarding privacy, surveillance and group think. This is a big brother not of the government's making, but of young, internet-savvy corporate America. Intriguing stuff.
Unfortunately, once you finish the dust jacket and crack open the actual book, things begin to fall apart. While Eggers certainly knows how to start a conversation about our modern world's dependence on technology, and our obsession with smart-everything, The Circle makes the argument that he doesn't know how to tell a story. This is of course befuddling, given his work to date, among them a memoir short-listed for the Pulitzer Prize and a critically acclaimed debut novel. Maybe dystopian sci-fi isn't Eggers' genre. Maybe he had trouble writing from a woman's point of view. Regardless, The Circle is an intriguing but ultimately disappointing book.

n
normf3
Sep 13, 2018

Although the movie with Emma Watson was generally panned, I kind of enjoyed it and was interested in reading the book. But I enjoyed the book a lot less than the movie. Mae joins a Google-like tech company, learns the ropes, etc. Nothing much of interest happens in the book until the very end in my opinion. You don't really care about the characters that much, and they aren't very well developed.

d
Dream24
Aug 30, 2018

This was an eye opening read. Not the profound or epic kind of read, just the kind of read that opens your eyes to just how addicted and attached we are to social media.

It is freaky how much control a private corporation has over people, which is kind of like real life. I mean look at Google, Amazon, Facebook, they have pretty much a huge hold in numerous aspects of people's lives. In this book we see the Circle, how is pretty much a combination of all the big corporations out there in real life, with it's hands in everything.

The story is told through Mae's perspective, which to be honest, she is very boring and very much the puppet that plays perfectly into the hands of the top executive (the one with the business shark sense, not that uncle like one or the elusive Ty <- yeah they aren't very memorable when recounting it after 2 weeks). It is scary how everyone has to perform and be active on their social media pages and be constantly connected even when off the clock, which is what Mae feverishly worked on while sacrificing sleep and her relationships with Mercer (her ex) and parents.

Privacy is theft. What?! Um no! I don't really like or connect with Mae because that is just stupid. I get that people who aren't able to experience everything first hand due to limitations (health, funds, etc), but not every private moment needs to be shared!!! I totally sympathize with Mae's parents and Mercer. Mae has no right to share their lives and work lives like that, nor does she listen when they repeatedly asks her to stop. Still it does show the extreme between private and public, which a lot of people in real life seem to be sharing too much of their private lives these days.

The sex scenes were cringe worthy and embarrassing for sure. Ok....moving on! Character development.... basically non-existent for any of the characters. We don't really get to know the characters and Mae is so plain and boring.

The climax was so anti-climatic. Ty approaches Mae to ask her to stop the Circle from taking over the world (basically), but what does she do????!! ugh! Even after the Circle had a part in causing her ex's death, the breakdown of Annie and the deterioration of her relationship with her parents, she still clings to the Circle. I can't even....ugh!!

b
boehmography
Aug 10, 2018

I was surprised by how much I disliked this book considering the premise was really interesting! The main character just wasn't likeable and I found it hard to understand how two different men would instantly fall for her to their own detriment. It's also very obvious that the author has a negative view of the modern world and has decided that, by extension, the future could only be much worse. I'm hoping the movie is better.

k
KatG1983
Jun 04, 2018

As a person who works in Privacy policy and compliance, this book is pretty much my waking nightmare (and should be yours, too). Any world that declares 'Privacy is Theft' is not one you should want to be a part of! However, I do applaud the book for allowing the reader to imagine why this declaration may seem attractive. I don't feel like the characters in this book are as well fleshed out as they could have been, and I don't think the author is particularly adept at writing from a female character perspective. However the unraveling of the story itself is fascinating. A movie version was released a few years ago, starring Emma Watson and Tom Hanks. I actually preferred some of the choices made in the movie as opposed to the book.

t
tjdickey
Apr 07, 2018

Imagine a world where a giant social media company is using its progressive ethos to try to change the world. It claims to know you better than you do yourself (just like Facebook and Google already claim), and works forward from a motto "Everything that happens must be known" (echoes of a motto OCLC already uses). Pretty soon we have fleets of cameras throughout the known world (nobly to solve crime, of course), and mass digitization of all texts, and social media owning all electronic currency for all purchases, and running elections in all democracies, and even apprehending fugitives, and making it illegal to opt out of sharing on social media because all "SECRETS ARE LIES," and any personal "PRIVACY IS THEFT."
Does this all-too-possible vision scare you? It should...

CRRL_MegRaymond Feb 09, 2018

Working for a corporation dedicated to Doing Good has to be great, right? For Mae, it's a dream come true, until it's ... not.

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clairemars
Jun 05, 2017

clairemars thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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