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)
The Circle would probably be a quick read and worked particularly well as an audiobook. Maybe Eggers meant it to be read aloud. It was easy to follow, perhaps because so much of it was set in offices and near-future cyberspace that I could construct from stock mental imagery. Some books are harder, in that it takes me longer to envision the settings and I start to fall behind the narration or get distracted. The characters were also fairly simple creatures, requiring no slowing to get to know them, which seems very appropriate for a book about a world that turns on a social media axis (obligatory circle pun). The pacing was good. I "read" it in just a few days, finding a lot of extra time to listen, which is always a good sign. As for the main ideas of the novel, yes, it certainly taps into a certain zeitgeist, hopefully an extreme representation and not the way things are actually headed. At work today, taking time out of one process to respond to work-related social media, I felt like a character in the book. Good to be reminded of what not to become.
When I first started reading The Circle I was very intrigued by where it could have gone. However after waiting and waiting for something to happen, nothing did. The main trouble with the book is that while this is big brother on steroids, we are supposed to believe that everyone, everywhere likes everything The Circle produces. No matter how invasive their products are, people love them and want more. Not just techies, I'm talking everyone, in every age group, in every location in the world. That is just total B***S*** That said, if you want to read about some ways that companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple and the like could invade our privacy then you might want to give a listen.
I would definitely get another book by Dave Eggers. While this book is a dud, the other I read by him "the heartbreaking work of staggering genius" was great.
The vocalizations really added to the feel of the book and the sense of wonder from the people actively involved in "The Circle" although it would have been better to have multiple narrators
It might be interesting to see the settings. They did sound interesting, if a whole lot farfetched.
I have a love of books, and little time to read all I buy. Audible is so great for me to fit in my reading of so many great selections!
I am still debating the merits and severe issues about transparency vs privacy brought to fore by this fictionalization of how far our digital world can go.
There are pros and cons (to me) that make for good introspection and great book club and classroom discussion.
I think it would be ideal to replace Huxley's Brave New World and other like books of the past with this in high school classrooms. Where their world might go via what they use everyday would be edifying and may make for deep thinkers.
Secrets are lies.
Sharing is caring.
Privacy is theft.
Well written book. Would recommend to any adult reader. Should probably be made into a five episode or so mini series.
This is for those who enjoy far fetched conspiracy theories.
As long as you don't actually know anything about technology you can get a tingle of fear run up your spine of the probability of this happening. This is great fodder if you are a Luddite and fear the internet age.
All in all, I expected more especially from Dave Eggers, to be fair Dion Graham did a great job, this is purely a story that just fell flat the more it strayed away from probability.
The characters were also a bit, to give a technical term : "meh". Dion does an admirable job of bringing them to life and changes the voices of the various characters nicely, but still the evolution of the primary character Mia seems a bit much.
Ok rant over, just don't think this is a modern equivalent of 1984 that's all I ask.
As good as it gets. Eggers is witty and insightful. If you have children, it will make you want to take them camping or take them someplace away from technology. Is the world he describes possible - absolutely. This is not scifi, just look around. Are you reading this on your phone? I want to send this book to my children's English teacher.
The narration is exceptional. The reader speeds up at times, giving you the frenetic, overwhelming sense that the main character feels, that you feel.
A well-written book which provides a window into a possible future of the world, one that most people would not choose to inhabit.
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