“The Circle” by Dave Eggers | Book Review

Book Reivew | Rating – 4/5 | Genre – Science Fiction

Once again, we’ve got a book that was brought to my attention by a movie. Thinking about it now, I don’t think I can really go on about how I always try to read the book before I see the movie, clearly I don’t follow that ethos myself. Anyway, I read this book a while back, having enjoyed the movie as much as I did. However, it has been a while since I read the book, and wanted to give it another go. Heres what I thought…

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. (check it out here)

What did I think?

It was nice being able to re-read this book again. Having been a while since I last picked up the book or watched the movie, I had an urge to pick the book up again and see what would happen second time round. From the get go I found myself enjoying the book once again. The world was built up wonderfully, with the description of The Circle’s campus easy to visualise. Watching the company’s grip on the country and then the world was both fascinating and terrifying to behold.

When it came to the characters I found myself really drawn to the issues that Mae was going through during her time at the company. There were times when I became distressed with the descisions she was making, but soon realised that I was watching a woman falling into the trap of a technologically advanced cult. In the weirdest way possible it was interesting watching Mae’s journey within the company and the story as the circle’s hold on the world grew stronger.

Unfortunately there were moments that the book did start to slip from me slightly. As I mentioned, some of the decisions that Mae made were frustrating to read, but soon easy to understand when I realised it was a cult that was warping her brain. There was also the issue of the length of the book, finding myself starting to lose interest as the book started to make its way to the end.

Reasons to read The Circle…

  • Interesting characters: Upon re-reading the book, I found myself really focusing on the characters that made up the world this book was set in. Yes, Mae is the protagonist with whom we truly see how the circle changes the world as it grows in power. However, we see the colleagues that surround Mae with their equally passionate personalities to impress the company they all work for. Then there is Annie, Mae’s over the top best-friend, who quickly starts to feel the effects of a company that expects far too much from her.
  • Descriptive writing: The main point for reading the book, is the superb writing of Dave Eggers. From the very beginning you can really feel yourself venturing through a world that isn’t too far off our own. It was great to see how the circle expanded as it grew it power, seeing more buildings appear and understanding the inventions that they created.

At the end of the day…

This definitely continues to sit in the pile of books that I will want to re-read in the future, as well as recommend to friends asking after a good book. The science fiction side of things is easy to get to grips with, Dave Eggers’ writing helping to envision the world in which the sinister circle has its power.

There were some downsides, with the book being a lot longer than it probably needed to be. There came a point, about 3/4 of the way through that I started to find myself wondering when the story would come to an end. However, this didn’t last long and I made it to the end, still enjoying the overall story.


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