...a world where everything we do is shared on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, etc. etc. (albeit by choice).
In The Circle, Dave Eggers takes this world toward near-mandatory participation and explores the positives and the perils. As Michiko Kakutani said in her New York Times review, “Mr. Eggers reminds us how digital utopianism can lead to the datafication of our daily lives, how a belief in the wisdom of the crowd can lead to mob rule, how the embrace of “the hive mind” can lead to a diminution of the individual.”
In Mae, the protagonist “newbie” that introduces us to The Circle and serves as our guide (figuratively and, later, literally) into this supposed Utopia, Eggers has offered us a charming twenty-something whose dreams of a better life and career outside of her small hometown are met and then exceeded. As with any great character, Mae changes. Her charm and innocence vacillates as those around her are changed by The Circle. Her outlook, while in her view brightens, seems to darken and we watch, sometimes with trepidation, as she embraces what we know is going to be a poor choice. Mae even acknowledges her more frivolous poor choices from time to time, but when her poor choices are more dire, her sense of right is displaced by her sense of loyalty to this tech-conglomerate.
The story reads like a movie adaptation, paced for short scenes, darting moments, and suspense. The movie, for which I’ve no doubt there will be one, could easily be a shot-for-shot retelling of the novel.
Without giving away the end, I can only say that I was torn between disappointment and realization. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the book. Eggers is a superb storyteller with his ability to pull you in and whisk you along. But as the story came to an end I wanted a more powerful resolution. But I also appreciate that this ending is Eggers point…that the ending is what it will be. You’ll have to read it to fully understand.
This wanted to be a great story... or rather, I wanted it to be a great story. Unfortunately, I was let down by the hype. The book unfolds as a history of the aftermath of a zombie plague. It's intensely political and underwhelmingly tedious. Truth be told, and this may appear unfair, I abandoned the book halfway through. I couldn't do it anymore. After some ungodly quantity of pages involving African political struggles and the advancement of very unlikable human figures I couldn't take it. Read if you love government documents and the urbane tedium of bureaucracy. Avoid if you want to engross yourself in a thrilling tale of emotionally charged relationships. I was left dissatisfied and resentful that I'd spent money on it without doing more research in advance.
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