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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

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  •  
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 10-10-13
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 10-10-13

    A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.

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    "A solid, just not great social network dystopia"

    (***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.

    44 of 51 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suzn F Fletcher, VT, US 04-13-14
    Suzn F Fletcher, VT, US 04-13-14 Member Since 2005

    I believe a reviewer should finish a book before submitting a review. What do you think?

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    "Big Brother Employer"

    The Circle is the leading tech company in the world. This cutting edge company is perfect in every way. The "campus" is just beautiful. Everything is state of the art. Every employee is friendly, upbeat and psyched to be part of a new movement, a new way of being. It is considered such a privilege to work for the Circle. But not everything is as perfect as it seems to Mae. She has doubts now and then....does she remain a loyal employee?
    This book is cool and interesting. For the most part it held my interest. Of course is designed to make the reader think about the nuances of progress, the age of the internet and specifically all of the information sharing the goes along with our " logging on".
    Eggers book is not perfect, but it is thought provoking and worthwhile.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stacey 10-10-13
    Stacey 10-10-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Teaser Book--Excellent! Unabridged Book--Meh!"

    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? ;)

    25 of 31 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joyann Sanz-agero St. Louis, MO 04-10-14
    Joyann Sanz-agero St. Louis, MO 04-10-14 Member Since 2013

    Joy Sanz-Agero

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    "Scary Story, Fears of a 1984 Blossom"
    Where does The Circle rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I really listened to this almost non-stop, though I was annoyed by the reader, who read too fast, and there was no way to slow it down without distorting the voice. It is scary to think that young college graduates like the 'heroine' of this novel can acquire millions of followers through messaging, and photographing everything. In this modern world of cameras on city-streets and at every traffic light, smartphones that are everywhere, the Google-glasses, Insta-grams, Twitter, and everything we do online ourselves with Facebook and Amazon, and the fact that what we do on these internet connected sites is being watched, it is a credible step to The Circle.


    What did you like best about this story?

    How fast one single young woman is persuaded that she was important to the world scheme of her bosses, and how she was an important entity in connecting the world through a Google-like private company. Lots of people already believe that positioning of cameras is essential to preventing crimes, or at least apprehending criminals already. Is transparency a good thing, or not?


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    I was caught up in it, and for the first time couldn't stop listening, though I found the speed of the narrator a shade fast for my old ears. Just a shade too fast, as I understand the need to move it along.


    If you could rename The Circle, what would you call it?

    That name is good enough. I am not clever enough to think of another.


    Any additional comments?

    I will not reveal any of the most important, dramatic happenings. You will have to read it yourself to see how the story evolves, or devolves.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeffrey Los Angeles, CA, United States 03-07-14
    Jeffrey Los Angeles, CA, United States 03-07-14 Member Since 2010
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    "Wow a Fascinating ride -- a tale all too realistic"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    The book was an extremely fun read -- fast paced, exciting and surprising. A little scary given they way society is headed. The characters are well formed and interesting -- but not too serious, so it does not feel like medicine even though it is making us look hard at the future. Delicious!


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Concerned Reader Stamford, CT, USA 03-06-14
    Concerned Reader Stamford, CT, USA 03-06-14 Member Since 2003

    Michael

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    "1984 Updated and Revisited"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathryn BEAVERTON, OREGON, United States 03-04-14
    Kathryn BEAVERTON, OREGON, United States 03-04-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Dissapointed by the ending but good"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Beth Anne Philadelphia, PA, United States 02-24-14
    Beth Anne Philadelphia, PA, United States 02-24-14 Member Since 2012

    i like to read. i like to listen.

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    "well written. sometimes obvious but always amusing"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter San Francisco, CA, United States 02-18-14
    Peter San Francisco, CA, United States 02-18-14 Member Since 2011

    peterb_sanfran

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    "Good apocryphal tale of "Big Brother""

    As a member of the silicon valley tech culture, I really enjoyed this book showing the extreme of a company that pushes it's invasive software to the total extremes. I thought the NY Times criticism of the book complaining that the author seemed to have an incomplete understanding of the differences between an OS and a social website missed the mark. I understand the difference, but I still really enjoyed the story of this company (which I think sounds remarkably like Google) that went from being a social site to essentially taking over every aspect of people's lives. The only flaw, in this story as well as others that paint a picture of the all-threatening "Big Brother", is that even the most pernicious organizations show massive incompetence when it comes down to the details, but "the Circle" Incorporated seems to have mastered every level of expertise, never making a mistake. Not on this planet....

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael United States 02-02-14
    Michael United States 02-02-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Brilliant and captivating look at the near future"
    If you could sum up The Circle in three words, what would they be?

    Futurist, adventure, insightful


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Mae - duh!


    What about Dion Graham’s performance did you like?

    He fits the tone and pacing amazingly, I wouldn't have wanted anybody else.


    Who was the most memorable character of The Circle and why?

    Caldin-creating an anonymous enigma is hard - when it is done well it sticks with you!


    Any additional comments?

    I loved this book start to finish. It's a different Dave Eggers book than I an familiar with, but it is the same level of entertaining. Honestly I never knew the direction if the book, but that made the ride so wonderful. I recommend for fans of cyberpunk.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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