The Circle is the exhilarating new audiobook from Dave Eggers, bestselling author of A Hologram for the King, a finalist for the National Book Award.
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.
©2013 Dave Eggers (P)2013 Random House Audio
“Eggers's novel begins with an almost giddy tone, re-created perfectly by narrator Dion Graham. Pulling every tool from his kit, Graham describes the inner workings of the world's largest Internet company as it develops a new identity operating system that will allow even easier access by users across different platforms…But--as the listener hears in Graham's increasingly horrified tone--this Google-like utopia quickly becomes a dystopia when Mae realizes what the Circle really has in mind. Listeners will be reminded of Orwell's 1984." (AudioFile)
“A vivid, roaring dissent to the companies that have coaxed us to disgorge every thought and action onto the Web . . . Carries the potential to change how the world views its addicted, compliant thrall to all things digital. If you work in Silicon Valley, or just care about what goes on there, you need to pay attention.” (The Wall Street Journal)
“Page-turning. . . . The social message of the novel is clear, but Eggers expertly weaves it into an elegantly told, compulsively readable parable for the 21st century. . . . What may be the most haunting discovery about The Circle, however, is readers’ recognition that they share the same technology-driven mentality that brings the novel’s characters to the brink of dysfunction. We too want to know everything by watching, monitoring, commenting, and interacting, and the force of Eggers’s richly allusive prose lies in his ability to expose the potential hazards of that impulse.” (Vanity Fair)
A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
(***1/2) A solid, just not great social network dystopia. Imagine FB::Google::Amazon take over the world. There is nowhere left to hide. No secrets. No privacy. No down time. In fact, "SECRETS ARE LIES, SHARING IS CARING, PRIVACY IS THEFT." While it is interesting, and does seem to mimic some of the warnings of Brave New World, 1984, Neuromancer and even elements of Ghostwritten. In the end, it just isn't Eggers' best work. It is at once more superficial, more clean, more predictable than I would have liked.
Don't get me wrong, I think Eggers is a genius. I think he has an amazing energy and impeccable timing. He seems to deliver a novel or book at almost exactly the perfect moment for publication. He is a perfect zeitgeist surfer. He catches the waves easily and almost seems to ride every wave of the literary ocean. Impossible? I know, but his production is large, his interests varied, his fingerprints are everywhere.
I guess the problem is (for me) that Dave Eggers is almost the exact opposite of Mark Twain. Mark Twain failed twice at both printing and publishing, but wrote amazing and important works. I think Eggers (with his McSweeney's success, his amazing ability to adapt, his tendency to swim with the currents, to be infinitely relevant, completely likable) is able to do almost everything ... except make me completely love his writing or get drunk off his prose. I always finish his novels/books neither surprised, awed or completely fed. I just feel the need to go read something else, something with heft that isn't looking to the future or the past, left or right, and actually doesn't really give a flying-F if you 'LIKE' it.
Dion Graham delivers the goods with the narration. He doesn't get in front of the novel but is able to tease out the characters while not making himself the center of the action.
The insights into the purposes and harm being caused by the big internet companies (Google, Facebook, etc) are nothing short of profound and are very moving.
The author's insights into how big companies work also remind me of the book "The Organization Man" from the 1950s, and his fiction-based warnings of where we're so rapidly heading are both shocking and very well-written.
As someone who worked in R&D for a major multi-national company for his whole career, I found this books' insights to be very compelling and nearly overwhelming in both their accuracy and depth. Google is different from other companies, but not *that* different.
Mae Holland, the central character, is very convincing and illustrates how a big company can take a new employee and remake him/her in their own image. This process is similar in many respects to my own development working for my corporate employer - I retired a few years ago after a successful career.
The narration was very effective in developing a better understanding of the book's content, much more so than a traditional text-based book format.
SECRETS ARE LIES
SHARING IS CARING
PRIVACY IS THEFT
I can't recommend this book highly enough - it is must reading for everyone in these rapidly changing times. But where do we go from here, and how would we get there? It may already be too late to change direction.
I always like to see what's free, and I found the teaser of this book to be one that intrigued me. I bought the book immediately. The author challenges the view of pundits who, during the time of "George Dub's" presidency, touted that if you do not support his him, you are disloyal to the country. Imagine that Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft all came together as one company and systematically removes free will, gets rid of politicians who challenge it, and sells things in a way that everyone can pressure you to do it too. Eventually, everyone has to register and must vote.
Imagine that every public official had to go wear a camera every day to show their constituents that they were honest? Imagine that every child has a tag embedded in their body so they could never be stolen again? Much of this seems great, but the key factor is that at some point their is no privacy and everyone must become transparent. In fact, PRIVACY IS THEFT and SECRETS ARE LIES."
Do you remember the Milgram experiment on obedience to authority figures? If not, please search for it because throughout the story, If you are smart, you can see where this is going. 1984--George Orwell or The Traveler--John Twelve Hawks(Highly recommend).
A woman named Mae, is the main heroine. Mae is a buddy of one of the top people in the company "Circle", and is grateful to have a job that her friend obtained for Mae. The Circle even pays for the treatment of Mae's father, which gains her loyalty. Mae starts out with two computer screens at her desk. Mae has many opportunities to exercise her moral fiber and falls short every time. I rooted for Mae, but found her to be unsympathetic, consistently foolish, and swayed too much by what others thought of her. Eventually she turned into a vain, selfish, superficial person. The only time I really liked her was when she was a criminal for a night( Read the book if you want to know). She rejects the teachings of her parents for those of a company. Mae is a foolish woman who gives up her identity, privacy, and happiness for a larger dream that never quite fills the void. She continually has relations with a man who not only does not suit her, but also fails to make love to her properly or "finish" with her. I found myself frustrated with her because at 24, I was not that stupid or simple. My mom would have told me to dump him and dump him quick! By the end of the book, she has seven monitors, a camera and headphones so that people can see everything she does.
I think Edgers wanted this to be a satirical story steered by the questions "When does free will of a Utopia cross the line? Is it worth it to give up our rights and freedoms for the appearance of security? "Should their be a limit?" It's supposed to be satire, but I am not sure it meets that billing. The Circle is not Mr. Eggers' best novels. However, the questions it raise should make this novel a must read for teens and young adults.
If you buy the book, you will understand the "Meh" in my title. If you don't, you saved a credit. I have tried to a good review of a new novel so I hope this helps you decide whether or not to purchace. However, you have free will to decide on your own....don't you? ;)
Used to hate audiobooks... Look at me now.
As a developer I liked the expressions used in the book such as "segue". Eggers is sharing the habits of people that live "in the valley" and at the same time making fun of them.
Also liked how he sets the history in reality and then stretch it from there to plausible scenarios. I think in this respect The Circle is different from previous novels. IS something that could happen, very unlikely, but could.
I prefer Eggers when his stories are based on events. He is a really good story teller. But when he "makes things up" I'm not such a fan. The circle is a nice story but it sounds cartoonish and silly when compared to other Eggers work such as What is the What.
He is great. He totally nails the different voices in the book.
The Circle. (It really is like a movie title already, you just need to get some young actress in the poster and Sam Rockwell as one of the 3 wise men)
Nice listen. For me it is not Dave Eggers best.
Say something about yourself!
"The Circle" is quite a topical novel for anyone who lives in the 21st century, which is probably most of us. It studies our society's hunger for permanence and self-validation in an age where the value of privacy seems merely quaint. What does it mean to lose one's self in the sea of public information? Dave Eggers wants to show us.
The serious topic of "The Circle" does not mean it is a dry read (or listen). On the contrary, it reads like a thriller -- or a horror story -- in disguise. And while the novel is one-sided in its analysis, that doesn't to me take away from its value of surveying the topic. And while, I don't think I'll cancel all my social media accounts as some I have read have done, it does make me pause before I post and ask myself ... why?
If nothing else, pick up this book for when the topic of privacy and the Internet comes up at your next office party -- unless your office parties are much more fun than mine.
This is an over-he-top spoof with tragic overtones, and Dion Graham's often tongue-in-cheek reading really shines. The action moves quickly and doesn't give you too much time to notice some lapses in logic and realism. But the underlying truths are spot on all the way to the reversal at the end.
So much to learn, and so little time to sit down and read. Thanks Audible.
As I listen to a lot of books, many of them begin to run together in my mind. I really enjoyed The Circle because it was a fresh, unique story. I know many people will compare it to Orwell's 1984, but to me there is a big difference. Orwell's book, published in 1949, described a futuristic setting 35 years down the road. In The Circle Eggers describes "futuristic" events that could happen very, very soon.
Eggers writes a fast-paced story that really pulled me in. Unlike most crime novels, where I have a pretty good sense of how things are going to end up, I eagerly listened to see where the author was taking us. I give this book two thumbs up.
This book was AMAZING, but terrifying. Dave Eggers (who I have previously not loved) presents a view of America not unlike a 1984/Brave New World; however, rather than imagining some distant future dystopia, he is referring to a world we can all realistically foresee in 2-4 years, given the proliferation of social media and the digital age. In this world, we interact via "zings" and "smiles," travel by going to a live stream of a faraway beach, and can watch our neighbors, politicians, and strangers' ever moves via cameras in the environments or on their persons. As an accidental figurehead of the "full transparency" movement is Mae, the protagonist and employee of the culprit spearheading this new world, the Facebook/Google/Twitter/YouTube empire called "The Circle."
I have completely reversed my opinion of Mr. Eggers as a novelist. The characters in this book were well thought-out, poignant, realistic, and relatable. You completely understand how his protagonist ends up in the mind-boggling situations she does. Moreover, having Mae, the narrator, be so committed to "the cause" allows Mr. Eggers to illustrate the many potential arguments FOR a society like this, while allowing his reader to draw her own conclusions regarding the many perils. In the end, it has completely revised the way I interact with the internet and questioned my own beliefs about the existence and value of my identity, privacy, and "social" interactions.
As a narrator, Mr. Graham is terrific. This was my first audiobook in which a male voice narrated a female role; however, his delivery was spot on. He gave wonderful movement to fast-talking Annie, fully captured Mae's frustration during an especially poignant concluding scene, and brought The Circle to life.
A MUST READ!
in the top 30%
I love Dave Eggers stream of consciousness writing…and Dion Graham narrates Eggers' novels so perfectly….nails it! The story makes you think about the permanent nature of the internet, the transparency of social media, and the future. What if Google swallowed up Facebook, merged with Apple and acquired Twitter? Then took over the world ;)
He also narrated Eggers' "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" and so many times I'd be listening and I'd laugh out loud..prompting my husband to look at me quizzically ;) Graham's voice so perfectly embodies Eggers writing - they seem to be one in the same inside my head!
May was memorable as the main character... in the sense that she was so incredibly spineless…sad to see a character who is so easily manipulated. I kept thinking "in this next chapter she is going to have an independent thought"….
I'm sure the purpose/intent of the novel is satirical in a way….a dark comedy where Eggers shows what could happen if we don't get a grip on this internet/information overload thing. To be honest, I just love the style of Eggers' writing…I'm a fan no matter what he writes about - and the same goes for Graham's narration. Whatever they do together - I'm in!
School teacher and consumer of mass quantities of books!
I loved this book, the story line and the characters. The whole idea of something like this happening is here. Why didn't I give it a 5 for overall? I would have loved to see what happened after? Because it just ended..It left me going, what what? Is he writing another book? It - Just - Ended! LOL!
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