Thursday, 15 June 2017

Review: The Circle by Dave Eggers.

The CircleWhen 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.


Stacey's review 2.75  of 5 stars

mild, generic spoilers

Are we heading toward a future with complete transparency? When everyone everywhere knows your location, your likes and dislikes, your thoughts??? The Wise Men of The Circle believe we are- and that we should be. Since only with complete transparency can we be honest, free, and safe. "Secrets are lies" is the foundation of the Circle's beliefs. People are entitled to know everything. About everyone. Is this our future?

I am having a hard time reviewing this book. I really wanted to like it- the concept is so relevant to what is happening in our society- it does seem to be the direction we are headed (to some degree) and it is what people who dislike our internet openness criticize about the trend of social media. But overall the book fell flat for me- it traveled parallel to the great suspenseful novel it was meant to be, and then slid right off a bridge into nowhere;)

Here is what I did like: It made me uncomfortable! Like, really uncomfortable. About what I put 'out there' on the internet (this review even?!), who will see it, track it, like it or hate it: and what that could mean for me in the future. It can't be taken back once it's out there! The Circle takes this (and everything else) to an extreme. For example, the protagonist, Mae, posts something on her Circle profile- or whatever- and immediately she will see- or crave to see- feedback. Via her wrist monitor she will obsess over 'smiles and frowns' that are reactions to everything in her life now. Mae has become a test subject for complete transparency- wearing a camera to capture everything she does/says 24 hrs a day (3 minute bathroom breaks and sleep time off) for all to watch and comment on. Her life is directed by her viewers- her thoughts and feelings are trapped within her mind since everything she says is recorded. She becomes a Circle robot. Disturbing! But in reality a (slightly) distorted glimpse of what we are doing and showing people every day via Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc..... Scary as hell! So it did make me think about what I put on social media- and how I view others' posts.

What I didn't love-
The characters. They all seemed to be piecemealed into the plot for the purpose of sending the message that "we are getting out of control people!" & "Don't be a Mae"! Even within a fantasy novel you want your main character to be believable- Mae wasn't. She came in to the company via a friend's recommendation and was immediately seen as the next 'wonder girl'. There was no reason for this- or none that we saw. She was extremely average and flawed and sort of boring and yet- ta da! Everyone loved Mae pretty quickly. She was flat, and kind of mean to everyone really- especially her ex-boyfriend, her parents,and that friend that helped her!

The dialogue! "Secrets are bad, Mae." "They are." She sounds like a robot, very strange. "I do", "It does", "I will" responses to everything. Weird. The connections between the characters are not felt at all, which lead to the entire plot feeling vacant. I never got pulled into the drama and I really wanted to be. Mae just sells herself and everyone else out and I didn't care. I wish I had liked her in the beginning so I could feel bad as she transformed.

Predictability- Maybe it was supposed to be this way (again, the overall message was paramount to the plot?) but I predicted almost every twist and turn of this story. I wanted to be surprised by something! It could have been very suspenseful and exciting.

The ending- Huh? It was just sort of bizarre, sad and 'blah'. Not feeling authentic at all.

But, oh well, an interesting read. Maybe it made a better movie;)


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