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The Circle | [Dave Eggers]

The Circle

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

“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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (956 )
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  •  
    Dr. Flower Gainesville, FL United States 12-04-13
    Dr. Flower Gainesville, FL United States 12-04-13 Member Since 2004

    LJF

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    "Never closes the loop..."
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Only for Facebook fanatics to tell them to back off...


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    Make it go somewhere unexpected...this was really an extended short story...with a long lead up and went nowhere.


    What about Dion Graham’s performance did you like?

    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.


    Did The Circle inspire you to do anything?

    Appreciate Dave Eggars early books more... when he had something to say.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura McNamara Edgewood, NM USA 11-15-13
    Laura McNamara Edgewood, NM USA 11-15-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Whoa!"

    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!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    matthew san diego, CA, United States 11-01-13
    matthew san diego, CA, United States 11-01-13 Member Since 2008

    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

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    "Visit the near future and its possible implicatio"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 10-24-13
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 10-24-13 Member Since 2010

    I am an avid eclectic reader.

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    "Interesting look at social media"

    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.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brock DONOSTIA-SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain 10-10-13
    Brock DONOSTIA-SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain 10-10-13 Member Since 2012

    So much to learn, and so little time to sit down and read. Thanks Audible.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A fresh, past-paced story"

    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.

    12 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah Forest Hills, NY, United States 10-13-13
    Sarah Forest Hills, NY, United States 10-13-13 Member Since 2004
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    "The Stepford Tech Company"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christina United States 11-04-13
    Christina United States 11-04-13 Member Since 2010

    Say something about yourself!

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    "A horror novel in disguise"

    "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.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ohad SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA, United States 09-19-14
    Ohad SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA, United States 09-19-14
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    "Fascinating, Horrifying, and Thought Provoking"

    What if Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Apple, and PayPal were all combined in one company? This is the Silicon Valley of the future that Dave Eggers describes. From there, Eggers plumbs the depths of the narcissism that comes from the obsession with validation that comes from "likes" on social media, and the confluence of infringements on privacy that these companies demand from their users.

    Although there is no violence or anything like that, the world that Eggers describes is so real, and the characters so well developed, that the results of their actions are horrific in their implications and terrifying in a way that really makes you think about the future of our society, vis-a-vis the potential social media has to influence global events.

    I have listened to a lot of books on Audible already, and I have to say that the narration by Dion Graham is absolutely flawless and really makes the text come alive. He grabs your attention from the very beginning, and then the pace of the story is relentless all the way to the end.

    I spent an entire weekend lying on my sofa listening to the story because I was so fascinated, and listening to it led to some very interesting conversations about the book's implications.

    This is one of the best, most thought provoking works of fiction I have experienced in years.
    Having said that, I gave the story 4 out 5 stars. If I tell you why, I might give away a crucial element which you may enjoy more than I did. I won't say more.

    Whether you live in Silicon Valley or not, this book may change your view of how you interact with others on social media, and the way you view the companies which we have all (to a certain extent) come to trust with our personal information because their tools are so useful.

    Give this one a listen!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda B Northeast USA 09-15-14
    Linda B Northeast USA 09-15-14 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "We are practically there already"
    Where does The Circle rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    With employers who won't even consider candidates unless they post their whole life on awful, invasive sites like LinkedIn, with companies like zappos that require you drink the koolaid before your even hired by joining and actively participating in the mandatory company social network, and have themed offices like in this book and promote a cult-like devotion and a sick openness in order to keep your job, with the world addicted to facebook and twitter.. WOW there was SO much in this book that is NOT a scary prediction of the future, but simply a description of the present, only nobody is objecting, everyone seems to think this is normal, people even get angry and argue with you if you claim such things are invasive and disturbing, and will defend it as though you have attacked their child.

    In this book, the characters swept into this totalitatian state don't even see it happening, as it is all so normal, and supposedly fun... But if you really think about it, this bizarre outpouring of all the details of our personal lives in electronic form is pretty weird, and yet those who call it weird are considered weird these days. And more and more it becomes mandatory.... I can totally see this book coming to life, and even this review, I fear some employer finding it one day, or some person in my life being angry I dare show anything but love of facebook, twitter and the like...

    Scary stuff in this book about a scary trend creeping, creeping creeping in... until one day it will be too late to go back.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Liesan leeuwarden, Netherlands 09-07-14
    Liesan leeuwarden, Netherlands 09-07-14 Member Since 2013
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    "A decent read (listen)"

    I love the storyteller eggers so much that my ultimate drea for when I grow up is to be a character in one of his novels. And I don't think he lost his ability to tell a story but for me 'the circle' was too much about making a point and not enough 'a great book' while i feel it could have been.

    That being said, it's eggers, buy and listen :)

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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