I expected an anti-capitalist sentiment, something paralleling the idea that if you're not the buyer you're the product and I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop until I realized that wasn't going to be this story. This was more haunting than what I imagined.
What's frightening about it is how subtle initial changes are. Jumping from a facebook-like account to willingly being monitored in your own home 24/7 is a bit hard to swallow so having the intervals of small changes that spark the big ones show you how quickly things change. I was surprised how easy the book was to read. As I got to the end I realized that there's only two ways the story could end and I wasn't disappointed.
That being said I'm also not sure I understand the whole message of the book. Sure it outlined the importance of individual rights, but that feels like a very vague overview of the book.
lukas, April 30, 2014 (view all comments by lukas)
But my point is, what if we all behaved as if we were being watched?" For a while, I really despised Eggers, mostly because I couldn't stand his narcissistic classic "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" (it pains me just to type that title). Perhaps aware of his hubris, he sought out to do good. He founded the micro-empire McSweeney's, he started a non-profit and his recent fiction and non-fiction has taken on serious subjects like Katrina, the Middle East and, now, the internet and the nature of privacy. This is definitely his most zeitgeist-y book, set at a Google/Facebook-like internet behemoth that benignly proclaims Orwellian sayings like "Privacy is Theft" and offers services that allow people to document every aspect of their life. Timely, no? It's not exactly sci-fi, it's not exactly satire (because satire is supposed to be funny) and it's not exactly good. His targets are obvious, his insights dull and his attempts at relevancy (Assange! Tahrir! Drones!) clumsy. Also, it's nearly 500 pages, which makes for a long, unrewarding read. This fails on nearly every level. You'd be better off watching "Silicon Valley."
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W S Krauss, December 17, 2013 (view all comments by W S Krauss)
The Circle is a tech company like Google or Facebook, where the employees young and tech savvy. Mae joins the company after working for a utility in her hometown, a job she hated. She was recruited to the Circle by her college friend Annie. Mae quickly fits into the company and her job in Customer Experience, where all of her transactions are rated immediately. She does well and begins to succeed, rising through the ranks of the company. She begins an affair with a mysterious man named Kalder, who is not on the list of company employees. She and Annie think he may be a spy. The Circle founders begins to talk about the need for "completion", where everyone is transparent and required to have a Circle account. Meanwhile, Annie gets involved in a project that uncovers some shocking news. We all see where this book is headed; it is no surprise when things go as we expect. Yet it was a good read and it does make you think about privacy and how much information is out there. We have been warned….
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Susan Bradley, December 10, 2013 (view all comments by Susan Bradley)
Orwell got some things wrong big government is not big brother it is your employer. Mae(the protagonist and the victim)could be your daughter in today's competitive world where to get ahead you need a connection to get the job you want. Where in order to keep the perfect job what is required of you no matter what the consequences. Where with cult-like precision the employer becomes the driving force dictating every thought through social media. Dave Eggers has changed my views on social media through this book.
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Mara Cohn, October 28, 2013 (view all comments by Mara Cohn)
Dave Eggers has written a fictional tome, that, while seemingly farfetched, hits on many elements of a coming reality. Alluding to the power and success of some of the large Silicon Valley social networking and technology companies, this book warns of the consequences of no-holds-barred sharing of personal information. The main character, Mae (perhaps a play on words for "meh"), is a young college graduate who is offered a position at The Circle, a large, hip technology company, seemingly involved in an assortment of developments, not the least of which is attempting to control the world. Watch Mae change from new hire to global mastermind and monster in a few months time.
Eggers has a wild imagination-- or does he? I think he's on to something. Is sharing really caring?
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Knopf and McSweeney's -
by Jill Owens,
In Dave Eggers's latest page-turning novel, Mae Holland is ecstatic to get a job at the Circle — an Internet company that's like Google, Facebook, and Apple combined and on steroids. Thrilling and sinister, The Circle explores issues of connectivity, privacy, and democracy that our world is hurtling toward.
by Jill Owens
by The Wall Street Journal,
"A vivid, roaring dissent to the companies that have coaxed us to disgorge every thought and action onto the Web….Carries the potential to change how the world views its addicted, compliant thrall to all things digital. If you work in Silicon Valley, or just care about what goes on there, you need to pay attention."
by Booklist (Starred Review),
"Most of us imagine totalitarianism as something imposed upon us — but what if we’re complicit in our own oppression? That’s the scenario in Eggers’ ambitious, terrifying, and eerily plausible new novel....Brave and important and will draw comparisons to Brave New World and 1984. Eggers brilliantly depicts the Internet binges, torrents of information, and endless loops of feedback that increasingly characterize modern life. But perhaps most chilling of all is his notion that our ultimate undoing could be something so petty as our desperate desire for affirmation.”
by Publishers Weekly (Starred Review),
"A stunning work of terrifying plausibility, a cautionary tale of subversive power in the digital age suavely packaged as a Silicon Valley social satire. Set in the near future, it examines the inner workings of the Circle, an internet company that is both spiritual and literal successor to Facebook, Google, Twitter and more, as seen through the eyes of Mae Holland, a new hire who starts in customer service...Eggers presents a Swiftian scenario so absurd in its logic and compelling in its motives...sneaking up on the reader before delivering its warnings of the future, a worthy and entertaining read."
by Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times,
"A parable about the perils of life in a digital age in which our personal data is increasingly collected, sifted and monetized, an age of surveillance and Big Data, in which privacy is obsolete, and Maoist collectivism is the order of the day. Using his fluent prose and instinctive storytelling gifts, Mr. Eggers does a nimble, and sometimes very funny, job of sending up technophiles' naïveté, self-interest and misguided idealism....A fun and inventive read."
by Lev Grossman, Time,
"You can't really write a 1984 for our times, because 1984 is still the 1984 of our times. But one could think of Dave Eggers'...new novel The Circle as a timely and potent appendix to it. The crux of The Circle is that Big Brother is still haunting us, but in an incarnation that's both more genial and more insidious. We have met Big Brother, and he is us....In The Circle Eggers has set his style and pace to technothriller: the writing is brisk and spare and efficient....When I finished The Circle I felt a heightened awareness of social media and the way it's remaking our world into a living hell of constant and universal mutual observation."
by Laura Christensen, Vanity Fair,
"Page-turning....The social message of the novel is clear, but Eggers expertly weaves it into an elegantly told, compulsively readable parable for the 21st century....What may be the most haunting discovery about The Circle, however, is readers' recognition that they share the same technology-driven mentality that brings the novel's characters to the brink of dysfunction. We too want to know everything by watching, monitoring, commenting, and interacting, and the force of Eggers's richly allusive prose lies in his ability to expose the potential hazards of that impulse."
by Hugo Lindgren, The New York Times Magazine,
"The particular charm and power of Eggers's book...could be described as 'topical' or 'timely,' though those pedestrian words do not nearly capture its imaginative vision....Simply a great story, with a fascinating protagonist, sharply drawn supporting characters and an exciting, unpredictable plot....As scary as the story's implications will be to some readers, the reading experience is pure pleasure."
by G. Willow Wilson, San Francisco Chronicle,
"In this taut, claustrophobic corporate thriller, Eggers comes down hard on the culture of digital over-sharing, creating a very-near-future dystopia in which all that is not forbidden is required....Eggers has a keen eye for context, and the great strength of The Circle lies in its observations about the way instant, asynchronous communication has damaged our personal relationships....A speculative morality tale in the vein of George Orwell....We go on using the social media platforms that have been used against us; we post geo-tagged photos that could lead potential criminals straight to our private homes and our children's preschools, and we do all of this with full knowledge of the possible consequences. We have closed our eyes and given our consent. Everyone else is doing it. In the digital age, it is better to be unsafe than to be left out."
by Ellen Ullman, The New York Times Book Review,
"Entertaining....A sense of horror finally arrives near the end of the book, coming...though the power of Eggers's writing....The final scene is chilling."
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