Book Review: The Circle by Dave Eggers

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“A circle is the strongest shape in the universe. Nothing can beat it, nothing can improve upon it. And that’s what we want to be: perfect. So any information that eludes us, anything that’s not accessible, prevents us from being perfect.”

Book Summary:

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, famous musicians playing on the lawn, 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.  

(From the publisher.)

My Review:

I don’t exactly know how or what to feel about this book. It started out pretty interesting and ended up with a plot twist that I actually expected but still leaves a bitter taste to my mouth.

There are things to hate and love about this book. I, for one, love that this is a dystopian novel which isn’t as far-fetched compared to others. It is close to the reality we have now and focuses on technological and social development. If you’ve read 1984 by George Orwell and Brave New World by Aldous Haxley, this book may somehow be considered as their lovechild.

I enjoyed parts of the story and the questions it raised about technology and social media and the messages about the implications of its use. Dave Eggers clearly demonstrates how easily we can get caught up in our online presence that we lose touch with our ability to converse in real life without the added “watchers” of people in our social networks. Here’s one quote from the book that most of us may be able to relate to:

“Here, though, there are no oppressors. No one’s forcing you to do this. You willingly tie yourself to these leashes. And you willingly become utterly socially autistic. You no longer pick up on basic human communication cues. You’re at a table with three humans, all of whom you know and are trying to talk to you, and you’re staring at a screen searching for strangers in Dubai.”

On the other hand, what I disliked about this book was the writing. Yes, it was easy to read but there are times when I get confused because some parts felt forced and unnecessary. I also find the main character to be incredibly annoying and naive, which bothered me a lot. I would stop reading every now and then, wanting to shake her and tell her she was an idiot.

Progressing through the book, I noticed it was heavy handed with foreshadowing and everything felt obvious and predictable that I knew exactly what was going to happen. I think everyone would have the same reaction as me when the PLOT TWIST happened. Let’s take it from Tyra:

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The Circle was my first time reading from Dave Eggers but it didn’t get me eager to run out to buy more of his work. I thought some of the points he made about our changing view of privacy were valid.

Overall, I think the main topic of this book was promising but was poorly executed. I still recommend it though, especially that a movie starring Emma Watson and Tom Hanks is coming out this month of April. This is one of those times where I hope the movie is going to be better, lol.

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“Knowing is good, knowing everything is better.”

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