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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

Critic Reviews

“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

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.8 out of 5.0
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Terrifying look at a techno-destruction of privacy

[NOTE: Mild spoilers below.]

A terrifying look into a future where companies like Google and Facebook leverage the power of Big Data to obliterate privacy and track every minute aspect of our lives. The Circle is quite obviously a fictionalized portrayal of largely Google but with aspects of Facebook and Twitter thrown in. The ability of the company in the novel to destroy privacy and position itself to establish totalitarian control of our future is a bit of a stretch but not as much as you might think. The novel also gives a glimpse into the naivete of the millenials and other young people whose "progressive" thinking on information, collectivism and social interaction empower this risk to all of our privacy. The term used late in the book - infocommunism - perfectly summarizes the result of this dangerous lurch toward tracking, recording, monitoring, datafying and analyzing all aspects of our lives.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

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Never closes the loop...

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Only for Facebook fanatics to tell them to back off...

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

Make it go somewhere unexpected...this was really an extended short story...with a long lead up and went nowhere.

What about Dion Graham’s performance did you like?

Initially the voice gravitas reminded me of "In A World" which I had just seen and it was distracting but after awhile it didn't bug me.

Did The Circle inspire you to do anything?

Appreciate Dave Eggars early books more... when he had something to say.

Any additional comments?

I guess my expectations for Mr. Eggars was higher to approach the "societal dive into globalization of personal experience" with a new perspective. Social media will be around a while...he should have taken the time to flesh out a more complex or at least exciting story line.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Good premise but don't be sucked in, it gets dumb

What does Dion Graham bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Graham's reading is brave. He inserts a great deal more subjective interpretation than customary into not only line readings but narration as well. Many times his inflections add nuances to the text that the author may or may not have intended. I think this was the right choice though, as fortunately his instincts are usually very good, and so the performance adds a lot to the so-so writing.

Any additional comments?

If you are intrigued by the premise of this book - as I was - beware. It does not live up to the promise. It sounds like it's going to be a sweeping indictment of the digital age, but is actually a rather weak and shallow story of a single rather uninteresting character and her usually alcohol-fueled romantic relationships. Indeed Eggers presents a lot of interesting takes on the basic notion of social media and loss of privacy, but he hasn't thought his ideas through. He got in way over his head, and so the novel is mostly a big disappointment.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Disappointed

The book started off with a great premise, making us aware of potential problems by using technology, however the ending was very disappointing. Narrator did a great job.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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

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.

70 of 80 people found this review helpful

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Excellent... but!

I loved this book, the story line and the characters. The whole idea of something like this happening is here. Why didn't I give it a 5 for overall? I would have loved to see what happened after? Because it just ended..It left me going, what what? Is he writing another book? It - Just - Ended! LOL!

29 of 33 people found this review helpful

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  • JoAnn
  • Boston, MA, United States
  • 12-17-13

Whoa!

This book was AMAZING, but terrifying. Dave Eggers (who I have previously not loved) presents a view of America not unlike a 1984/Brave New World; however, rather than imagining some distant future dystopia, he is referring to a world we can all realistically foresee in 2-4 years, given the proliferation of social media and the digital age. In this world, we interact via "zings" and "smiles," travel by going to a live stream of a faraway beach, and can watch our neighbors, politicians, and strangers' ever moves via cameras in the environments or on their persons. As an accidental figurehead of the "full transparency" movement is Mae, the protagonist and employee of the culprit spearheading this new world, the Facebook/Google/Twitter/YouTube empire called "The Circle."

I have completely reversed my opinion of Mr. Eggers as a novelist. The characters in this book were well thought-out, poignant, realistic, and relatable. You completely understand how his protagonist ends up in the mind-boggling situations she does. Moreover, having Mae, the narrator, be so committed to "the cause" allows Mr. Eggers to illustrate the many potential arguments FOR a society like this, while allowing his reader to draw her own conclusions regarding the many perils. In the end, it has completely revised the way I interact with the internet and questioned my own beliefs about the existence and value of my identity, privacy, and "social" interactions.

As a narrator, Mr. Graham is terrific. This was my first audiobook in which a male voice narrated a female role; however, his delivery was spot on. He gave wonderful movement to fast-talking Annie, fully captured Mae's frustration during an especially poignant concluding scene, and brought The Circle to life.

A MUST READ!

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Good concept, but...

...it made its point, over and over. Would have made a terrific short story or novella. The ending is predictable, even though the author seems to think it wouldn't be. But, hey: we've all read 1984!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Rand on Privacy

This book puts a spotlight on privacy fears many of us have about "big data", and creatively shows just how out of control companies may get in the collection of personal information that makes up this statistic pool. A bit scary.

The concept is relevant and important, but I did feel that the characters and their narrative were forced. Many will compare this work to 1984, but I also compare this to an Ayn Rand manifesto. The characters each symbolize specific viewpoints on digital privacy and transparency, and their conversations drive their designated perspective ad nauseum. The character interactions sometimes come across as callow and puerile, though I am not sure if it was the way it was narrated - perhaps I may have perceived the written word differently.

Dion Graham did put his heart into this reading, though some of the character inflections were boorish (namely Francis), but his best trait was that he read quickly. Much of the prose is Mae's thought stream, which by nature happens more quickly than speaking aloud - so Mr. Graham compensates by reading it quickly and not drawing it out. Nice performance.

Overall, the moral is greater than the tale. If you are interested in the lengths some may go to publicly quantify your self, it is a good read.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • James
  • Kernersville, NC, USA
  • 04-22-15

Great premise, horrible execution

What did you like best about The Circle? What did you like least?

When I first started reading The Circle I was very intrigued by where it could have gone. However after waiting and waiting for something to happen, nothing did. The main trouble with the book is that while this is big brother on steroids, we are supposed to believe that everyone, everywhere likes everything The Circle produces. No matter how invasive their products are, people love them and want more. Not just techies, I'm talking everyone, in every age group, in every location in the world. That is just total B***S*** That said, if you want to read about some ways that companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple and the like could invade our privacy then you might want to give a listen.

Would you ever listen to anything by Dave Eggers again?

I would definitely get another book by Dave Eggers. While this book is a dud, the other I read by him "the heartbreaking work of staggering genius" was great.

What does Dion Graham bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The vocalizations really added to the feel of the book and the sense of wonder from the people actively involved in "The Circle" although it would have been better to have multiple narrators

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

It might be interesting to see the settings. They did sound interesting, if a whole lot farfetched.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful