Book Review: The Circle by Dave Eggers
October 16, 2013 18 Comments
The publisher says: “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 the world—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.”
The Circle: What I thought
This book could have been a little less big: 491 pages for this story was a bit much. There wasn’t all that much going on, and I feel the book could easily have done with fewer pages. Having said that, I did very much enjoy reading this book.
Mae Holland gets a job at The Circle because of her friend Annie. She loves it there and nothing is too much for her: Working with two computer screens? Three? Four? Eventually, she has nine screens to keep track of. She has to keep customers happy, she has to interact with co-workers, her bosses, the rest of the world. Her participation level is measured and it better be high!
Unlike the reader and Mae’s friend Mercer, Mae sees nothing wrong with the work she’s doing. She gets sucked further and further into this company, that wants to connect up everyone in the world, and have data of everyone, all the time. Eventually, Mae has to have conversations in the bathroom, the only place where she cannot be seen or overheard.
There is a mysterious stranger, whose intentions I figured out quite soon, and there are Mae’s parents, who first benefit from her working at The Circle, but soon tire of the consequences.
Mercer, her friend, sees through all the smiles, frowns and comments that Mae’s “friends” place on her social media the whole time (and she on theirs). He wants no part of it, but finds it very difficult to convince Mae that she’s on the wrong track. Mae is constantly surrounded by people who think she’s doing a great job, so he is a lone voice in the desert.
This won’t end well for some people. But who? Read it for yourself and judge what you think: should everyone know everything about you? The Circle has some good great arguments why they should….
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (very good)
Number of pages: 491
First published: 2013
I got this: from my Dutch rep for Random House US
Genre: speculative fiction