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)
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!
“Employ your time in improving yourself by other men’s writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for.” -Socrates
The Circle begins with good intentions that address major social problems like crime and political corruption but eventually leads to a dark place reminiscent of George Orwell's book 1984. You are left wondering which step toward complete transparency was the one too far?
No, but it did make me think hard. Most will notice the similarities to Orwell's "1984" but this book might be more disturbing because it's easy to imagine this plot happening today in the United States. 1984 on the other hand seems foreign and easier to dismiss because it could never happen in our country... could it?
We know the path to hell is paved with good intentions, and the Circle will leave you wondering what direction we are headed.
Only for Facebook fanatics to tell them to back off...
Make it go somewhere unexpected...this was really an extended short story...with a long lead up and went nowhere.
Initially the voice gravitas reminded me of "In A World" which I had just seen and it was distracting but after awhile it didn't bug me.
Appreciate Dave Eggars early books more... when he had something to say.
I guess my expectations for Mr. Eggars was higher to approach the "societal dive into globalization of personal experience" with a new perspective. Social media will be around a while...he should have taken the time to flesh out a more complex or at least exciting story line.
It's a combination of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" with "1984" set in a sunny high-tech campus where everyone is happily contributing to the betterment of the world. Alternately hilarious and frightening, this is one of the best stories I've encountered this year. The performance is excellent; Dion Graham has the vocal talent to convey the complex personality changes that occur as each of Eggers' characters come to grips with the new reality of The Circle. I've been off Facebook since I finished this book and I can't bring myself to look at Twitter. In fact, as I write this, I'm realizing the irony of writing an online rave review for a satirical tale about the dark potential of our bright, shiny, hyperconnected society… Gotta go, time to live in the real world, bye!
I am an English teacher in China and can now read and write some Chinese.I have been to 13 countries on 4 continents.I am an avid audiophile
I had already listened to The Facebook Effect, Steve Jobs bio and Always On recently. This one really grabbed me, since it was billed as a modern day 1984. That it is. In the book there is a lot of talk about transparency and even the floors of this future empirical company, The Circle, are made of glass. The heroine, Mae, is a recent college graduate whose friend helps her get a job at the latest internet company that is kind of the future Facebook with its convergence of internet platforms. She is hooked up to a headset which speaks to her in her own voice;asking her opinions and preferences on various products. She need only to nod up and down or left and right to answer as she multi-tasked with her various Ipad like devices starting out in what they called customer experience. She soon moves up and becomes what they call clear. She wears a camera, known as a see change camera, and due to her extraordinary social ability gains a huge following. She has several love interest throughout the book and it all culminates in a viewing of a vast fish tank where a shark, an octopus and some sea horses are placed. I don't want to give away the ending, if that was what it was, but it made me want to go back and try to understand the symbolism the author had in mind. It was so chillingly close to our modern mobile society that I would love to find somewhere on the internet where we could discuss the impact this book could have on how we interact with the internet.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
In reading “The Circle” by Dave Eggers I feel as if I stepped into a modern day Orwellian novel. In this novel the Big Brother is a futuristic amalgam of a social media and search engine tech company instead of big government. The book is told in the first person by Mae Holland as she arrives for her first day of work at “The Circle.” She is a new college graduate sort of an eager beaver believing that the company is the greatest. As she works at the company, the company is growing into more and more areas such as placing camera’s all over the world. The company encourages politicians and their staffs wear a camera at all times (except in the bathroom and sleeping at night) Mae is asked to be the first person at the Circle to become transparent and wear a camera at all times. Everyone can watch Mae at all times work and play. As the story goes along more and more programs are developed that takes more and more privacy away from the individual. It is an interesting subject to think about and the story demonstrates issues in an interesting manner. I will not give the story away nor the ending you must read it to find out what happens. Dion Graham does a good job narrating the book. This is a dystopian science fiction novel.
I enjoyed this book. Sure, it alternated between fairly clever and kind of dumb, but the story moved fast enough that I never felt bored or tempted to stop listening. As others have pointed out, it's a social networking variation on works like 1984 and The Stepford Wives. Except for a few sex scenes, it seemed very YA (not that that's a bad thing...). The narration is fantastic.
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? ;)
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.
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