The Circle by Dave Eggers Book Review

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Title: The Circle
Author: Dave Eggers
Release Date: October 8th 2013
Publisher: Knopf
Source: Bought
Rating: ★★1/2
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The Circle is the exhilarating new novel from Dave Eggers, best-selling author of A Hologram for the King, a finalist for the National Book Award.


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.

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My Review: 

The Circle by Dave Eggers was a novel that came much hyped when it was released. I heard about it a lot and how it was utterly terrifying and portrayed a vision of the future where technology strips us of our privacy and personal freedom. Regarding the latter, it's something that Eggers does well. The climax, where this totalitarian future is realized, is truly terrifying and the build up is insidious and subtle. We follow the main character, Mae, as she starts to work for The Circle, a sort of super version of Google and she slowly loses her life, personal freedoms and privacy as she climbs the ladder of The Circle.

My biggest problem was that the characters were never developed and the plot, minus the revelation of the ending, was nonexistent. The characters were flat and two dimensional and Mae had no personality. There was no inner dialogue on what she was thinking and her answers were completely robotic. You never understand anyone's true motivations expect through obvious metaphors. 


It was confusing as to why everyone except me found Mae so fascinating and how all of them confided in her with their biggest secrets. She had no agenda or thoughts of her own. If you're going to write a novel, such as a dystopia, whose goal is to show what happens if we as a society, keep doing something, you can't sacrifice character development for it. There were also blocks of text where a character would speak and you could tell it was the author speaking to the reader and that took me out of the story. 


This was my first Eggers novel, and while I am disappointed, the climax and commentary of this book were interesting to read for the most part. An additional note, that while nothing was really happening in the first half, it still captured my attention and I found it oddly soothing to read about The Circle campus and all its shenanigans. 


Have you read The Circle? Thoughts? 


-Amanda Leon
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