Book Review: The Circle by Dave Eggers

The Circle by David EggersThe Circle: What it is about

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

About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

18 Responses to Book Review: The Circle by Dave Eggers

  1. It is great to see that you gave this book 5/5! It sounds like such a good premise and I look forward to reading it at some point.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Jackie, you might find that the book doesn’t have enough substance for you, but I think you should definitely try it.

      • Sam Spade says:

        How would you compare this with Thieves Emporium?

      • Leeswammes says:

        Sam, I don’t know that novel, so I can’t say. Is it good?

      • Sam Spade says:

        I think so. So do 33 others on Amazon where it has a 4.6 rating.

        The plot revolves around the question of what will happen if the government doesn’t back down on their surveillance thing. Will we have to make a choice to either become data serfs or go underground and become new digital outlaws?

        Lots of current Internet technogy explanations as well as some details on relevant economics. Also a great plot and good characters.

        Check it out for yourself.

      • Leeswammes says:

        Sounds good, Sam! Thanks.

  2. Shan says:

    I’ve been on the fence about picking this one up, now that I see a five star rating for it, I think I will give it a go (one day)

  3. Hmmm. I have a feeling I know where this is coming from, website-wise. 😉 And it sounds very interesting to me. At close to 500 pages, I’ll have to think about fitting it in, though!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Col, it’s a super-fast read. If you like things to do with internet, facebook, etc. you’ll probably enjoy this book. As long as you take your online personality not too seriously.

  4. Athira says:

    Glad that you loved this! It’s high up on my wishlist. But I wish it wasn’t as big though.

  5. Laurie C says:

    I didn’t finish the only other Dave Eggers book I’ve tried, but this one sounds more appealing. However, I’ve just started The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, which I think must be closer to 700 pages from the weight of the ARC, and don’t know when I’ll finish that doorstopper and be ready for another one!

  6. Thanks for bringing this one to my attention – have added it to my list. Looks really good.

  7. Have not read anything from Eggers yet – perhaps this is the title for me. The synopsis intrigues me…

  8. Pingback: Gelezen: De cirkel door Dave Eggers | De Boekblogger

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