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)
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!
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.
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 :)
It's a good book. Fun to listen to and paced well....but....I expected more from Eggers. Many people have made the 1984 comparison. I would consider it a modern retelling of 1984 with a lot of Daniel Suarez mixed in. My biggest problem is that the protagonist, a well educated and intelligent woman, essentially just blindly accepts what is little more than a paper thin argument for ' total transparency.' And for that matter, so does just about everyone in the book. Ironically, the plot of the book is just as transparent as what The Circle calls for. There were no real surprises and you can pretty much see each plot point telegraphed about a mile out. Don't think I'm panning this book. Eggers is a great author and "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" still pretty much tops my list of all time great books. I just would have really liked have seen more depth.
The Circle is a dystopian novel that really makes you wonder how the use of (social) media affects our lives. Although the plot isn't very surprising, it is an intriguing story that unfolds beautifully. The fact that it almost sounds like non fiction is quite disturbing. Dave Eggers is ahead of his time and I think there are some valuable lessons to be learned here.
I don't know that i would say i exactly *enjoyed* this book- I'm not sure it was meant to BE enjoyed. But it was definitely thought provoking, mostly well written (I have high standards for Dave Eggers), and in many ways captured the landscape and atmosphere of Google, I mean, The Circle.
I definitely recommend it- in fact, I have mentioned it to many people in conversation and recommended that they read it, which I don't normally do.
Yes, it was. The comparisson is obvious, but it felt like reading the new 1984. With a new language and modernized.
Sure, he sure knows how to tell a story.
Mae's father. He cracked me up.
Yes, stay away from facebook
The book loses itself a little towards the end. It seems like the author was in a rush to finish the last pages. And I know I'm new at the audiobooks world but it was hard to get used to a man imitating a woman's voice at the beginning.
Good story with lots of relevant, thought-provoking ideas about privacy, internet use, etc. The relationships in the story were somewhat stereotypical and card board cut out. Worth reading and thinking about.
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.
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.
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