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)
I've liked other stuff by Eggers, but I think this is his magnum opus to this point in his career. It's not a dystopian story... it's a dystopia's origin story. It takes it's main character, and the reader, from a near future that is completely believable, step by reasonable, logical step into a horror story. To me that makes this an incredibly valuable book to have out there in the world - paranoid government states like that of 1984 or obviously horrifying, but I at least have always been able to discount them by saying, 'well, that would never really happen.' I'm not sure I can say that after listening to this book.
I think this is the sort of novel that's perfect for an audiobook, as well - the narrator is great, and he compensates for dialogue that reader-reviews have noted as repetitive and obvious. Reader reviews have also noted that the characters seem one-dimensional, but I didn't get that feeling at all - a good reader brings the characters to life and adds dimensions through subtle reading choices. The symbolism is maybe a little obvious, too, which might have seemed condescending in print but I think in audio format you need them to be obvious enough to pick up on them on first listen, at speed.
All in all, I think this is a great, important book. How well it ages probably depends on what actually happens in the future, though.
This story was an aspirational account of where a leading tech company wants to take the world.....to a place of total transparency. Great performance by the narration team.
If you ever wandered what is the "future" of all the information and social media fuzz is, just listen to the book. There are going to be parts where you even feel anxiety. Is it realistic? Why not?
There are many... and are very well presented... do not want to disclose much to let the reader (or listener) enjoy! :-)
Probably... at some points L O N G but the mystery and tension is very well maintained.
Strongly recommend to calibrate expectations about WHAT is possible with Information Technology
I love to listen to American books. Following the plot, keeping track of personal developments and intrigues while walking two miles to work
I have listened to this book from Audible, and I enjoyed that. For listening to be enjoyable the book should not be too hard to follow. The Corcle has a quite easy, straightforward plot and a limited number of straightforward characters. An easy listening experience, but at the same time a disappointment. The character, especially the protagonist Mae is flat and overly naive in her belief in a brave new world. What bothers me the most in this book however are the 'Zings'. Eggers makes them in an applause machine, always supporting Mae. As on short view in social media discussions show, Zings are not filled with applause but with abusive language. Eggers has a point to make and the plot and characters fully corroborate this point, even if they are unrealistic. His plot and characters are caught within Eggers' book/argument just like they are caught within the circle... No way out.
Oh! The promise of this book in the early chapters...ultimately led me to a disappointing, predictable, and unnecessarily heavy-handed resolution. Symbolism loses it's power when you announce the symbols. I'm a Dave Eggers fan and it pains me to say that. But, it's topical, eerily prescient in some ways, and the dialogue has the resonance of the 21st century. Dion Graham's narration has a spontanaety, rhythm and truthfulness that holds you in your seat. His characterizations, particularly Mae, Annie and Eamon sound so authentic. I felt like I knew them, was sitting in the room with them. Mr. Graham is perfection.
Yes, it is a novel that leaves you wondering until the end...you will not see it coming. Great writing added to characters with depth.
Rich deep voice that carries the story quite well.
If you thought it might not be worth the money, it definitely is. Hands down great read!
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!
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 :)
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