Title: The Circle
Author: Dave Eggers
Published: October 2013
Genre: SciFi, pre-Dystopian, Adult.
Average Goodreads rating: 3.47
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.
My Rating and General Opinion
To summarize, I loved how much I hated this book! The novel was an eye opener and indeed I did enjoy it but I just hate everything that it represented and almost everyone that took part on it. Just so you know, I don’t use the word hate lightly.
With this one I had my doubts/problems when trying to fit it into a category. I would say it is a contemporary that deals with science and technology in a somewhat SciFi manner and that is the first step into a dystopian future that is definitely not so far off (scary, truly scary)!!!
This book definitely got under my skin (and not in a good kind of way). It made me want to scream, and that may be because I saw the reality reflected and some of my own actions reflected on it?? Social Media has become such a central part of our lives and not only for pleasure but also for business. If you stop and think about everything you share (that will never be erased) out there is scary as hell!!!
Also I don’t find this book to be one for all ages… I am pretty sure older people wouldn’t understand much of it unless they are highly technological… So that’s another thing i¡to keep in mind.
"The Circle, the newest tool created by the man to eat away your soul" - Matx.
– – [Fair warning: for more in depth thoughts, after reading the review, you can scroll down and you’ll find the spoilery section. Feel free to comment if you have read the book or watched the movie adaptations, the symptoms will be similar… 😉] – –
The writing style was quite simple and easy to get to and connect with. The way this novel was structured, well that was another story. Every single novel out there is separated by chapters, long or short ones, but chapters all the way. This was not the case. This book is separated in three clear blocks (books I-III) but you won’t be able to find chapters in any of them. I didn’t like this fact at all, because I use chapters to control my myself and I didn’t know it was going to be this way when I started it. So be prepared if you are anything like me, don’t search for what’s not there! 😉
That said, the separation of the books made sense., because it represented the evolution of the character. She was evolving (ejem, ejem) constantly and in each
volume she just went and took a step further.
I found this story to be a quite quick paced one. At the beginning you spend more than enough time getting to know the characters but it’s understandable in the character study (that this novel turns out to be).
We pick up Mae as she gets a new job in The Circle which is this conglomerate of internet social media enterprise, basically God apparently… 😂😂
We follow her as she starts int his new job, which more than a job seems like an alternate universe where slowly you (the reader) start feeling dizzy, claustrophobic and overall completely overwhelmed. The plot is quite simple: a girl starts in a new position, starts to get a bit obsessed, gain popularity and importance, more popularity and more importance which comes with degrees of isolation, things happen, unbelievable things happen and… that’s it. (now that I think about it, I probably should lower the rating?? Well, I won’t do it, because this left a mark on me)
Everything starts to get interesting when you immerse yourself in the story, you get yourself invested in it in a way you feel enraged with what is going on (at least that was the case for me). This might not be a cult classic but still brings some very important issues to light. Nowadays we take for granted the continuity of information, the freedom that it gives us and the (lack of) intimacy that we’ve grown accustomed to. But is this really sane? Should we live in this technological bubble that we ourselves created?? Or should we become hermits??
This book proposes a reality not so far-fetched and I think with the new generations, more Maes are being born. I don’t know if we should be sad or scared or what. I am going to finish this saying I am glad we haven’t gotten this far, yet.
Freedom and fluidity of information is ok. I think it’s a must, but when it’s put against our own freedoms to choose and priivacy&intimacy, it clearly breaks everything, right? And what about democracy?? That’s a concept thrown in here that leaves a lot to be desired…
The eye that sees everything, like George Orwell predicted, it’s already here and it’s a scary concept at times. Because who controls it?? The people in power, but who is in power?? Well… enough said.
The absolute and damning protagonist of this story might be Mae Holland herself, but she is not the only one. There are some very important side characters that are specifically placed there, so that we can still feel connected to the reality-normalcy and so that we can see Mae’s evolution.
Mae, Mae, Mae… I don’t know what to do with you!! I mean, I don’t want to sound too aggressive or anything but I just can’t with this being, I CAN’T! When you meet her you see that she is a normal girl, not extremely sweet and with some serious character, but still ok. While the story goes on you get to see and know how her brain works and what she deems important. I know that she truly believes in every single one of her actions, but that still doesn’t make that OK. She is nothing but a dumb sound machine. I am glad I got to meet her to know what I don’t need in my life. And I hope after you read this, you don’t feel extremely connected to her… because if you do, you are scary!
Presenting another great character here is the sweetheart Francis. I don’t want to sound heartless, but fuck Francis ok? The only sympathy I felt for his was because of his past and his apparent difficulty to relate to others, but other than that I have nothing else to say. I picture him as a pathetic worm that offers nothing to the story. I actually see him as a symptom rather than a human being (if we are being metaphoric). He is with the rest of the circles in the same sack.
Next I have the enormous honor to present you The Wise Men. The fact that they called themselves that… They are the pyramid, creator+inspiration+maker separated in three beings. You will interact most of all with Bailey the dreamer, but let’s not forget the shark Stenton and the mind and creator Ty.
And finally we get Mae’s roots: her parents, ex boyfriend Mercer, and university best friend (and inadvertently starter of all of this) Annie. At first, I didn’t understand why her hs ex had such importance but later you will understand that he is necessary. Mae’s parents are struggling but sweet and generous beings, as is Mercer, that don’t deserve anything that happens to them. And Annie although the instigator is not a bad person, is such full of life that everything that happens to her also takes a toll on you.
– READ ONLY IF YOU HAVE READ THE BOOK –
Beware, some spoilery bits and pieces:
I planned to have a more detailed deconstruction but it turned out it wasn’t that easy in this case, I saw that I was repeating myself a lot. Sorry for that! 😉
– So, are you as infuriated as am I?? What’s this whole mess about transparency?? The idea behind yes, in some cases more than acceptable (damn corrupted politics, I am looking at you!), but what about intimacy?? Like, seriously WTH?? Where does your intimacy fit in all of this?? Because let me tell you, it simply doesn’t fit, at all!!
– Did the author think Kalden’s identity was really a secret?? I understand from reading it that he tried to create a mystery, but didn’t everyone just assume who he really was from minute #1?? At least I did, but I just had one doubt: is Mae stupid or did I misread something?? She saw the painting of the Wise Men, she described them and still doesn’t remember them, apparently…
– Do you agree with the three concepts that throw Mae onto Trasparency??
Secretes are lies ???? (No, not all of them at least.)
Sharing is caring ???? Well no if by sharing you hurt porposedly or not right??
Privacy is theft Hell no!!! Privacy is one of the real and necessary human rights we have!!!!
– READ ONLY IF YOU HAVE WATCHED THE MOVIE –
– What did you think about it?? I think it followed the story very well and it gave it a proper plot, filling some holes and giving it a more defined ending I think. The problem is that in doing so also left most of the emotions, explanations and Mae’s evolution off, don’t you think?
– The evil is in the details right? Did you miss anyone in special from the book??haha Because I DID NOT. I am so glad we got rid of someone! Also did you appreciate the way the director separated the movie, also in parts like the book did, with that fade to black? Yes.
– What did you think about that moment just before the ending when Mae goes public and asks for transparency from everyone?? Specially the Wise Men?? I applauded that, because that’s something I missed from the book. In the book I find Mae to be completely brain washed but in the movie she still has something that let’s her think for herself, don’t you think?
I do recommend you to read this book in fact I really recommend you to read it before watching the movie adaptation (if you are planning on doing that). I don’t understand the so-so rating that it has on goodreads, because yes although as storylines go this isn’t perfect or properly completed, the theme it approaches will probably make your head hurt (at least it did mine)!