The Circle by Dave Eggers (2 out of 5)



I bought this in hardcover a year ago. i just recently uncovered it in the Spring Cleaning that I am still doing. I decided to read it because I was talking to a customer about it the other day. Well, when that poor woman comes back, I will apologize to her for talking her into buying it instead of anything else. It was that aggravating to read this. I am a huge Dave Eggers fan, so this, well, this really chafes my bottom. I remember that when the book was released, the reviews were not kind. I think I get it now, a year later. 

Mae Holland is in debt up to her ears from college. She gets a job at The Circle, a powerful demi-god type Internet company, and feels like her prayers have been answered (imagine working for Google, and you’ll get the depth and reach of The Circle). The Circle is run out of a campus and uses their customer’s personal emails, banking transaction, social media activity, and what and how they buy, and their system plugs it into creating one online identity. Basically, it spies on your activities online and creates a way for you to only have to do everything through a computer system. No one ever meets, it’s all chat boxes here, folks. Mae thinks this is the new way of the Internet and that everything seems to run smoothly and productively. Strange things begin to happen, Mae has a weird run-in with her colleague that ups her sense of unease, and she begins to withdraw from her normal life into the plastic bubble known as the life of those within The Circle. Mae really doesn’t want to let these people put their gigantic microscope on every single aspect of her life, yet as she attempts to not do so, her “rating” with the Circle begins to slip, and shit gets cray cray. I did not expect the ending, and really, honestly, despite the chain of events that led to it, did not agree with it. The whole book seemed like it was too damn long. 500 some pages could have easily been 300 and accomplished what ended up as the end of the book. Something stinks here, besides The Circle. It’s not at all the level of quality I expect from a Dave Eggers book, and for that, I am saddened. 

The character of Mae is sympathetic, yet there are moments you want to smack her upside the head with a waffle iron. Annie, who enthusiastically recommended her for the job (gee thanks!) and is her “friend”, is not at all a likable character, but I still don’t agree with how her story turns out. Most of those within The Circle strike me as cold, clinical, paranoid delusional meta internet zombies, and my guess is that’s how Eggers wanted them to seem, so that was accurately written by the author. If you want to think of this organization as diabolical, cold-blooded monsters, then yes, they are and he did a great job painting that prototype. The general book has long-winded, open-ended dialogues that go on far too long, and really don’t accomplish much outside of establishing the doubtful characters who are in play here. I was excited to read this book, as I’m sure that what Eggers is writing about, is indeed happening. Maybe on a smaller scope, but it’s going on. And it’s something we should be damn scared of. Like reading this book. 

~ by generationgbooks on April 28, 2014.

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