When Mae 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. Mae can't believe her great fortune to work for them - 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...
©2013 Dave Eggers (P)2013 Random House Audio
"Tremendous. Inventive, big hearted and very funny. Prepare to be addicted" (Daily Mail)
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"Great idea which got me thinking"
I read reviews of this novel comparing it to 'Brave New World' and '1984'. It is indeed a satire on a not-so-implausible-near-future and I certainly couldn't out it down. But it is not a great work of literary genius like the novels of Huxley and Orwell. I have read plenty of other dystopian novels which are much better than this. It lacked literary sophistication and nuance which is fine but the hype led me to expect that.
It really made me think though and that is a sign of a good novel. How far will social media take us? It even made me question my own use of social media, my motives and expectations.
I definitely recommend it. The performance is superb and I did extra gardening and housework to make sure I could listen to it as fast as I could.
"Thought provoking but could have been much better"
The themes in The Circle are interesting, it looks at how a 'Google-esque' company could go about taking over the world, however it is let down through a combination of cardboard characters and a badly structured narrative.
There are elements in the book that are excellently conceived and quite thought provoking (for example the growing number of screens on Mae's desk, is a simple device, but it works really well) however, whenever it seems as if the book is going to really take-off and become a classic, everything comes to a grinding halt.
Characters make ridiculous decisions, completely out of character with no explanation as to why (Mae rightly is rightly disgusted by something Francis does, but all this gets forgotten in the blink of an eye), or simply get forgotten about until being crow-barred back in to place for no other reason than plot (the character of Annie is almost omnipresent but disappears for an age and comes back with an inexplicably altered personality).
The book's pacing is very uneven too, switching between long highly detailed descriptions of the activities of The Circle and brief passages in which major plot are passed over in an instant. An example of the latter is the final plot twist, its consequences and resolution. Without giving anything away, this should be the heart of the book, and could have a featured an in-depth philosophical argument and given a key character a true ethical dilemma. Instead it's crammed (along with a clunky metaphorical scene featuring a tank full of sea-creatures from the deepest parts of the ocean) into the final 20 minutes of the audiobook in a most unsatisfactory way.
In terms of the audiobook narration, this was fine. Occasionally the narrator would play a line in a way I don't think the author would have intended, but on the whole the performance was good. There would at times be strange pauses in the flow of the narration, this would make you think that a section had finished only to continue a couple of seconds later, which was slightly annoying
On the whole, The Circle isn't entirely bad, there is a good book trying breakout out - it's just that the poor elements far outweigh the better bits of the book.
"The googlefication of life"
The story is both relevant and interesting: what would life be like if the boundaries between work and life, public and private sphere disappeared to the extent that our existence became entirely "corporate"? The allusions to Orwell and Zamyatin are obvious, and the model for the titular company is clearly the world of Google: all the perks for workers are really means to bind them more tightly into the company and to make them work harder, to google-fy and apple-sync until there is no longer any world outside the corporate universe and all personal freedoms are yielded voluntarily. Technology becomes the new totalitarianism.And yet the story is so predictable (even the twist at the end can be spotted a mile away), and the characters so mediocre that it's actually hard to care about them. One character in particular becomes the kind of mouthpiece for authorial views that even the most rudimentary creative writing workshop (let alone editorial office!) would have told the writer to kill, modify or silence. At times I felt really quite patronised as a reader: I can think for myself, thank you.However, I can't fault the reader's performance: he did manage to make the characters distinct, and giving a voice to the criminally naive female protagonist cannot have been easy. Really well done.
No, I wouldn't. Listening to the last hour was a bit of a chore.
This needed editing to fulfil its potential because there is a really good novel in there. Beats me whether the author was resistant to advice or whether it's now okay to publish plodding and predicable material because your name is already "out there" and people buy the books anyway.
The near future what Google could become was well imagined. The story might appeal to a social media marketing intern provided they have never read a book before.
The characters were terrible and unbelievable, there was an incredibly clumsy metaphor crowbarred in, and there was a rubbish twist.
The narrator gave a spirited performance and despite some of his voices sounding like they came from Sesame Street he made the book far more interesting than the material warranted.
The circle and the things the company did were well imagined. Shame it was seemingly a company populated by the most retarded people in a planet full of retards.
A bad story in a good setting is still a bad story.
"A believable and thought provoking Dystopian novel"
I have already recommended this book to several people as it appeals to an incredibly wide audience. Everything we do, and our current consumer habits, are explored in terms of the long term results of our actions. It's very easy for a society to go with the flow because we are told it's best to. If you want to stay a 'seeker' read this!
Think a mix of 1984 and Brave New World with undertones of The Hunger Games.
The narration was so good, so smooth and kept me as transfixed as the story did that it's difficult to pick a favourite character. Mae is so perfectly flawed that it may have to be her. There is a bit of Mae in all of us.
The circle is good for you, everyone is welcome, no-one can escape.
This is one of those audiobooks you make extra time to listen to because it pulls you along into it's world. I read many books and listen to a great many more. Most I enjoy, though some you have to work at. This took no work at all.
"Put your life on hold"
This is such a tightly written story with excellent characterisation. It is on the very current theme of modern surveillance underneath glossy worthy motives. The tracking of all your movements, purchases, family and medical history in the name of greater efficiency and life affirmation but the reality is much more sinister. I was totally addicted to this book and listened to it all over a 24 period !
The twist at the end but the description of the characters and the corporate bubble they inhabited were gripping
Pacing was excellent, range of tones and accents were pitch perfect
It was and I did (life permitting)
Enjoy the roller coaster ride
"too predictable by half"
Maybe young people with an interest in sf.
most of them are superficial and shallow but they belong together all right.
"Could have been a much more interesting book"
More plausible, three-dimensional characters and more subtlety.
If the genre is implications of the internet, no. I liked Kiss Me First.
A bit of life. The characters were flat and the plot development heavy-handed, but he did a good job with it.
The basic idea is interesting. Some (not all) the depictions of life at the company were convincing and thought-provoking. The sub-story regarding Annie was good.
Enough with the marine animals!
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