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 insights into the purposes and harm being caused by the big internet companies (Google, Facebook, etc) are nothing short of profound and are very moving.
The author's insights into how big companies work also remind me of the book "The Organization Man" from the 1950s, and his fiction-based warnings of where we're so rapidly heading are both shocking and very well-written.
As someone who worked in R&D for a major multi-national company for his whole career, I found this books' insights to be very compelling and nearly overwhelming in both their accuracy and depth. Google is different from other companies, but not *that* different.
Mae Holland, the central character, is very convincing and illustrates how a big company can take a new employee and remake him/her in their own image. This process is similar in many respects to my own development working for my corporate employer - I retired a few years ago after a successful career.
The narration was very effective in developing a better understanding of the book's content, much more so than a traditional text-based book format.
SECRETS ARE LIES
SHARING IS CARING
PRIVACY IS THEFT
I can't recommend this book highly enough - it is must reading for everyone in these rapidly changing times. But where do we go from here, and how would we get there? It may already be too late to change direction.
A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
(***1/2) A solid, just not great social network dystopia. Imagine FB::Google::Amazon take over the world. There is nowhere left to hide. No secrets. No privacy. No down time. In fact, "SECRETS ARE LIES, SHARING IS CARING, PRIVACY IS THEFT." While it is interesting, and does seem to mimic some of the warnings of Brave New World, 1984, Neuromancer and even elements of Ghostwritten. In the end, it just isn't Eggers' best work. It is at once more superficial, more clean, more predictable than I would have liked.
Don't get me wrong, I think Eggers is a genius. I think he has an amazing energy and impeccable timing. He seems to deliver a novel or book at almost exactly the perfect moment for publication. He is a perfect zeitgeist surfer. He catches the waves easily and almost seems to ride every wave of the literary ocean. Impossible? I know, but his production is large, his interests varied, his fingerprints are everywhere.
I guess the problem is (for me) that Dave Eggers is almost the exact opposite of Mark Twain. Mark Twain failed twice at both printing and publishing, but wrote amazing and important works. I think Eggers (with his McSweeney's success, his amazing ability to adapt, his tendency to swim with the currents, to be infinitely relevant, completely likable) is able to do almost everything ... except make me completely love his writing or get drunk off his prose. I always finish his novels/books neither surprised, awed or completely fed. I just feel the need to go read something else, something with heft that isn't looking to the future or the past, left or right, and actually doesn't really give a flying-F if you 'LIKE' it.
Dion Graham delivers the goods with the narration. He doesn't get in front of the novel but is able to tease out the characters while not making himself the center of the action.
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? ;)
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.
Say something about yourself!
"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.
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.
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.
Dave Eggers The Circle is an updated look at a not so distant future when an omniscient overlord is all intrusive. Is it for good or evil? Unlike 1984 where the omnipresent TV eye was the government these eyes and ears are corporate aided and abetted by all those in the Circle. The Circle is a ubiquitous Facebook infused with a religious fervor summed up with the phrase “privacy is criminal.” Mae is so enthusiastic about letting people into her life she “goes transparent” wearing a camera and microphone broadcasting to the world except for bathroom breaks. Her wrist sensor in addition to monitoring all bodily functions also tracks how many people are watching. Stamping out privacy becomes a crusade for her. Mae’s ex-boyfriend is completely disgusted with the hive like mentality of the Circle and tells her he is going to live in the woods, off the information grid, hidden. No such luck. With the ability to capture millions of people’s attention and their support in locating him, Mae finds him in a few minutes. He’s angry. Not unlike the savage in Brave New World, he rejects the "modernity" of completely open access of a linked life.
This an interesting book. Sure, it’s a rehash of quite a few ideas and books but it is original in using a linked and transparent world through an internet medium to demonstrate that Google’s “do no harm” vision can have the opposite impact. Think of all those Google vehicles cruising neighborhoods taking pictures of everything being replaced by personal $59 cameras placed everywhere with 2 year battery lives on all the time. The world is live, there is no privacy. Closing the Circle is the aim of the coterie of Circle founders. Unlike Arthur C. Clarke’s vision of a connected world leading to a super organism in Childhood’s End closing the Circle is a much darker vision more akin to Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We.
This booke held my interest on a series of long flights. I was dissapointed by the ending and the obvious use of allegory between the sea creatures and the circle, but I found it interesting enough throughout that I would rate it very good. The performance was very good.
i like to read. i like to listen.
when i read "heartbreaking work of...blah blah blah" i vowed i'd never read another eggers book. but this, being a novel, and being of the variety i prefer to read, and having such great buzz, i gave it a try. so glad i broke my own rule. this book was great.
Mae was such a great awful character. i loved and hated her, so much. loved how terrible every decision she made was, how vulnerable she was, how cringe-worthy her inner thoughts were. loved how she never disappointed in being awful. i loved that she was, truly, the ultimate go-getter...even though the "getting" was often at the expense of everyone else in her life. i hated her because...well....she's really quite hateable.
the novel overall was written so well...it kept me emotional the entire time i was reading. emotions like anger, frustration, shock, annoyance and mirth. i laughed out loud at so many parts of this book, i can't even tell you. (i can tell you, however, that i don't laugh at books...so i kept surprising myself). Mercer's dialogue amused me the most...i found his observations and social commentary quite hysterical, probably because in this book full of absurdly blind followers -- his was the voice of reason and reality.
i feel that my problem with eggers previously might have been the memoir genre? i will be trying another novel of his soon...hoping to be as pleased as i was with these results.
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