Book Review

The Circle

The Circle by Dave Eggers
Release: October 8, 2013
Publisher: Knopf


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 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.

You will notice a recurring theme with most of my reads, if there is a movie coming out, odds are that is the reason that prompted me to pick up the book. I probably have been meaning to read it, I’ve probably started it and been distracted by other reads, but with a movie coming out, it’s my motivation. I’m a movie judger. I will compare and contrast, maybe bitch a little bit.

The fact that there is a movie coming out based on this novel staring Emma Watson and Karen Gillan, I just had to read it. Emma Watson is one thing. But Karen Gillan. Needed to read.

I wasn’t sure what to think of this. It was a wild ride, one that confused me, but I didn’t mind the traveling.

Mae wants more than her small town life. She was one of the few to venture away for college and now she’s back, working at the local utility company in her hometown, and she hates it. But when the opportunity to work at The Circle presents itself, Mae jumps at the chance to be more than her hometown. Instantly, she’s excited to be apart of the group, taking on more and more tasks, more and more responsibility, and she’s enjoying it. She starts a few relationships – one weird, one weirder – and she has her closest friend, Annie, a higher-up in the company, to show her the ropes. The longer Mae’s with the company, the more responsibilities she’s given, the more open she becomes with the world, the more her relationships start to suffer. But it’s all for The Circle.

While reading, I was scared. Never have I read a story that terrified me from the fact that this seemed so real. Scary monsters, ghosts, vampires, axe murderers – all those things are scary but The Circle is beyond any fear I’ve ever felt. I had to take breaks just to calm myself down because I kept thinking how relevant the story is.

Mae becomes addicted to the attention, addicted to the social media. It’s subtle but then all-consuming. It started when her coworkers tell her how important her social media presence is. Because The Circle is a social company, her community presence is important. Mae does whatever she needs to just to move through the social ranks. It isn’t long before her multi-tasking takes a new form.

This is my first Eggers novel. There isn’t much dialogue, instead, it’s filled with wonderful descriptions of the landscape, painting in perfect detail the Circle Campus and the lake Mae kayaks and her small apartment, everything was vibrant in my mind, I can still see it when I close my eyes. Also, because it’s a social, tech company in the story, there are very specific pieces of data. As much as I thought that would lose me, I was able to keep up.

As someone who grew up with the start of social media, when texting first became the main form of communication between people, I was still in awe at Mae’s ability to maintain that kind of social media presence. Like, for me, I rarely post on Facebook, this is, what, my fourth post. Mae is so focused, so determined to succeed, she takes it all with stride while I was sitting, yelling at the book how weird it was.

I deducted a star because of how long it took me to connect with the story. There are books out there that I don’t want to put down, I eat, shower, sleep with them. But this one took a while for me to jump into. I enjoyed the story, I felt I was Mae, and I’m excited to see the film.


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