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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"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.
"Internet bad guys - so uncool!"
This is a rollicking yarn masquerading as a dystopian vision of the future. Given the subject matter I shouldn't be too surprised that this is filled with cheesy characters telling each other how 'awesome' they are and that being thirty was 'like really old!' I did however enjoy hating the Circle with every ounce of my soul and cheering on the rebel characters. Mae is a chillingly dim heroine, but surely there is purpose in this, given the things she gets up to.
The reader did make some of the characters sound like they came straight out of South Park and this made me wonder if the book was actually meant to be funny.
Overall this book lacks subtlety but makes it up by being reasonably entertaining and with an almost nail biting ending. I can see this a being quite a good Hollywood film although I am not sure I would queue round the block to see it.
"One of the most boring books I have read"
Possibly someone a lot younger, but I really do not know
Although it looked promising with the idea that the internet could one day completely takeover both our work and private lives, the book was too long and plodding. Thought provoking for a while but then just tedious. I tried manfully to finish it, always hoping something unexpected would happen but just gave up. It is very unusual for me to not finish a book.
"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 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.
The subtle development of the plot and the dramatic irony made this a book that I couldn't wait to get back to (on the occasions that I was forced to stop listening).
The narrator's tone and style gave the same cool, calm impression radiated by The Circle itself. The performance gave me confidence in the narrator and the story he was telling.
The end of the book left me with a feeling of being let down — not because the ending was unsatisfactory, but because of just how attached I had become to the success of the characters.
This isn't a novel about the future, it's a novel about today.Be vigilant.
"Best contemporary novel I have read"
The novel is chillingly relevant. It slips seamlessly between a sort of Orwellian dystopia to something more satirical. It is relatable enough that anyone can read it.
The defiance of Mae's parents is admirable.
I listened to it over a few days but it was compelling enough that I could have easily completed it all at once
"Quality read, though lengthy"
I've not read the print version.
I found it funny and amusing, albeit bit of a scary thought, modern day take on a Brave New World concept - though many things you see happening around you mentioned in the book. Enjoyable read.
"Great Dystopian Novel"
Yes, the narration is clear. Despite the large amount of dialogue it is easy to follow as the author has different voices for each character. And rather impressively, the voices correspond quite well to the descriptions of the characters and their voices in the text.
Probably the end.
Not much.... an american accent, maybe.
Its a really great dystopian novel for today. It could probably have done with being a little bit shorter, but that's okay. I'm curious how it will age. Will people read it in 20 years and if so what will they think of it?
"Exceptional Book ... Incredible glimpse into a scary future"
Fantastic book and made all the better by Dion's narration. If you are interested in social media / privacy issues - wonderful fictional take on all this.
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