The Circle by Dave Eggers

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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. 


The Circle was a bit of an up and down read for me. I really enjoyed the first half, well maybe enjoyed is the wrong word to use, but the second half was kind of boring and a let down. I just wanted it to end, but then the end was perfect. So it was a bit of an up and down read. 

The first half of The Circle is Mae starting her job at the Circle. Man was it intense to read. It was soooo stressful. Like I had to put the book aside as I felt like I was going to have a panic attack or something. I have never read a book that has stressed me out so much so props to the author for that. It is insane. Mae starts working and things keep getting piled on her and more screens for different things to keep track of and do. Like she has to reply to so many posts by other employees and send out so many of her own and go to all these events and oh my goodness it was overwhelming to read. It is very apparent what the author is trying to say, he was a bit heavy handed with everything, but it is not that far fetched. The Circle seems like it is now but taken to an extreme that I do wonder if it would get that far someday. I don't know what it is like growing up with ipads and the internet and smart phones and being able to be in contact with anyone and anytime almost. We didn't have all that when I was a kid, but this seems like it could happen with the next generation. Kind of scary. 

The Circle is not something I would ever want. They just take over your life completely. It is like a cult and you get indoctrinated into it. They have everything you could ever need, even places to stay, so why would you ever leave? At first Mae missed a party or two to go visit her parents, but that was a big no no. The whole way it was written, reading the conversations she had with her managers and such about why she felt the need to leave the campus to go visit her parents, what was missing on campus? Why was she seeking something that they were not providing? Oh my goodness, even writing this up right now and thinking about it is making me panic a bit. It is really stressing me out. The first half of the book was so crazy stressful that I enjoyed it. I have never had a book get me to these same emotions before. It was a book club read and everyone else felt the same way reading that first half. Crazy. 

The whole first half is leading to the second half - total transparency. That is the goal of the company, to have total transparency. They think we should know what everyone is thinking and doing at all times. Nothing should be hidden from anyone. I mean if you are not doing anything wrong why would you be opposed to someone knowing every little thing you do? So *spoiler alert* Mae goes transparent. She was a bit of a strange character. She has some strange love interests in the story and they were kind of creepy. In the second half she just gets totally brainwashed by the Circle and completing the circle and all of their ways. She always wears a camera that is filming her every move and anyone can log on and interact with her. I was actually excited to see how it would play out, but after the intense first half it was just kind of boring. Plus it bugged me to no end that it wasn't actually total transparency. The audio would get turned off for a few minutes when she was in the bathroom and she could turn everything off at night. So there were a few hours there where no one would know what she was doing. A few hours where she could relax and just be and no be on. I know she was partially just like a persona during the day because she was one of the few people who were transparent all the time, but I would have liked to have seen what it would be like if everyone was always broadcasting their every move for anyone to watch. To me that would have been a bit more interesting. What the future would be like if anyone can tune into your video feed at any time. Instead I just wanted the book to end already as I wasn't enjoying watching Mae wander around. 

The end though...I kept waiting to see how this would all get wrapped up and those last paragraphs were perfect. I was just like yes! I love this! So an okay book overall. Really intense first half, really slow second half, but a perfect ending.

Rating: ★ ★ ★


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