The Circle by Dave Eggers| Review

Posted February 24, 2014 by Tara in Review /// 10 Comments

The Circle by Dave Eggers| ReviewThe Circle by Dave Eggers
Narrator: Dion Graham
Series: standalone
Published by Random House LLC on 2013-10-08
Genres: Dystopian, Fiction, New Adult, Thriller
Pages: 504
Length: 13:42
Format: audiobook
Source: Audiobook from library via Overdrive
Goodreads

Mae has left her job at a town utility company to work at The Circle with her friend Annie. The Circle is a huge corporation that essentially runs everything anyone would want to do on the internet: social networking, commerce, search, email, you name it. And they are growing every day, thanks in part to the brilliant young people they hire and retain through their glamorous workplace. Mae is impressed by the campus, the gym, the free food, the social network, the parties, the dorm, and all the amenities in her new workplace. And she's really good at her new job. But it doesn't take long before Mae starts to realize that The Circle is more than just an employer; it's a way of life. The prestige of her position eclipses her growing concern about the ubiquitous nature of The Circle. Will Mae be able to see how dangerous The Circle can be?

“SECRETS ARE LIES, SHARING IS CARING, PRIVACY IS THEFT.”

Can you feel 1984 just pouring out of those words? Because that’s what this is. The Circle is like 1984’s little sister. A little less sophisticated, a little less innovative, a little less complex…but still incredibly fascinating. 1984 focuses on the concept of a totalitarian government, while The Circle presents readers with a totalitarian corporation. If 1984 drops us into the middle of a society where Big Brother watches your every move, then The Circle shows us exactly how every day people allowed Big Brother to come into existence. Each step is subtle, packaged as something of benefit to the public while hiding the potential sinister purposes (or maybe even failing to realize them). This isn’t great literature like 1984, but it’s certainly something interesting, entertaining, and immediately relevant.

My main complaint about this novel, and what keeps it from being “literary,” is that Mae is kind of a niave idiot. It’s hard to judge what we would or wouldn’t do in her place, since it’s easy to judge her actions when we are primed to be critical of The Circle. However, in general she just seemed to blindly drink the Kool-Aide without ever questioning any of it, even in her own head. And for that matter, I also found it hard to believe that everyone in the whole corporation was so good at the empty selling of their products. They all had perfect little pitches and took everything so seriously. I’ve never worked for a company where at least a few people, even the higher ups, don’t totally buy into everything corporate tells them to do.

Overall, though, I liked the big picture of the novel. I liked the idea Eggers puts forth and the fact that the story is taking place in the very near future (like, next year-ish). I especially liked the ending, where shit really hit the fan (including one scene that I totally didn’t see coming. Wow.). Oh, and Eggers wrote a particularly great scene with an octopus, a bunch of seahorses, and a shark that got a little nuts.

all images from the Wikimedia Commons (octopus and shark credit: Albert Kok, under the Creative Commons Share-Alike license) (seahorse credit: public domain)
all images from the Wikimedia Commons (octopus and shark credit: Albert Kok, under the Creative Commons Share-Alike license) (seahorse credit: public domain)

Notes on the Audio

I always find it weird when books from a female perspective are narrated by men, but I guess the fact that this is told from a limited third person point of view and is written by a male author makes sense. The story is a great listen as an audiobook — intriguing and easy to follow, with enough tension to keep the attention of listeners.

Final Grade: A

I really enjoyed this book on many levels. I always like a good social commentary, but I like a good 1984 homage even more. The Circle fit the bill. I would dare to say that the novel could be categorized as New Adult, for those of you who want your New Adult reads to be smart and existing in some genre other than romance or fantasy. Though I do believe the book will have some cross-over appeal to young adults (16+) — just be aware of Mae’s very 20-something attitude toward sex. This book would be a good choice for fans of Google, 1984, kayaking, deer antler chandeliers, mysterious lovers, non-happy endings, and contemporary dystopias. Oh, and for any book clubbers out there, this novel is ripe for potential discussions with a group.

Do you think Google is going to take over the world?

Tara

Tara is a PhD student studying education. Her dissertation will be on digital book communities as public pedagogy (ask her about it!), though she often takes a break from all of that to read books about oppressive governments and sassy teenagers. In a former life, she was a middle school teacher and middle school librarian. In her future life, she's a professor of YA lit. In her free time, she drinks a lot of coffee while planning her next grand adventure (there's always something).

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10 responses to “The Circle by Dave Eggers| Review

  1. Thanks for an excellent review. I was a bit on the fence about whether to read The Circle or not, but you’ve convinced me to give it a shot (not that you were trying to).

  2. This was one of m earliest reviews and I really enjoyed it too. It was an incredibly enjoyable read and some if the ideas were just fantastic as well as being frightening! It really made me stop and think about how much I share online!

  3. I love Dave Eggers, although I haven’t read this one yet, but now I’m inspired.

    Also, I know everyone’s experiences are different (and I haven’t read the book so I may be way off), but when you say that you find it hard to believe that everyone in the corporation was so good and took everything so seriously, my last job was frustratingly close to that. The higher-ups all seemed to buy into the place, and they had their employees so scared that we felt we couldn’t even talk to each other. We knew that our fellow coworkers were miserable based on actions and body language (or getting together during off hours), but not being able to talk during work made it that much more lonely and unbearable. I (along with some others) were lucky enough to be able to quit that job very quickly! So you never really know!

  4. Your very last sentence is what’s making me put this book on my TBR list. Oh, and I feel like I need to re-read 1984, because I think I’d get so much more out of it now at 25 than I did in 10th grade. Thanks again for another insightful review.

  5. Great review! I especially loved the “a great scene with with an octopus, a bunch of seahorses, and a shark” – and not to forget the deer antler chandeliers!

    I’ve had this book on my shelf almost since the day it was published and I really like Eggers, so I will do my best to move it closer to the top of the TBR mountain 🙂

  6. […] Book: The Circle by Dave Eggers Narrator: Stephen J. Dubner Synopsis: A girl gets her first full-time job at a tech company that may just be too good to be true. Why I Recommend It: With the movie coming out soon starring Emma Watson and Tom Hanks, reading this fast-paced novel via audiobook can be a great way to read the book before you see the movie. (full review) […]

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