Title: The Circle
Author: Dave Eggers
Published Date: 10/08/13
Blurb: 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 America – 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.
I never heard of this book before I saw the preview at the movies. Immediately I knew that it was a book first though, the entire premise really had that ‘book’ feel, and I thought it was one that I would really, really like. So as soon as I got home from the movies that night, I went and added myself to the wait list with the library.
What I Loved: This book was just real enough to believe. I continued to go back and forth between thinking, ‘no way…there is no way that so many people would be okay with this,’ and thinking ‘how far away from this are we now, really…not much.’ There were many aspects of the corporation that were very familiar, as there are things (on a much smaller scale) that my own corporation does (ie. onsite health clinic, badges that track where you are in the building, etc.).
Not So Much: First of all, Mae was kind of a pushover. She bought in to everything so easily. I felt like she really had a hard time having her own thoughts. In the moments when it seemed like she was falling into a more….reasonable thought process, something would happen or she would mentally talk herself out of it.
Second, as mentioned, I had a hard time thinking so many people would be okay with the kind of integration that The Circle was attempting. Many times I had to remind myself that the perspective that we are getting in this book was dominantly an ‘inside The Circle’ view, and aside from a few minor characters – you don’t get any other perspective.
Third, I felt like the ending was a huge let down.
The Verdict: If you like the series “Black Mirror” this book is for you. Like 110%, you’re going to love it. I didn’t care for the series, and I was very luke-warm about this book. This book is an adult book, and it has adult scenes.