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The Circle Paperback – 24 April 2014
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About the Author
Dave Eggers is the author of many acclaimed books, including The Circle; What is the What and Zeitoun.
He is the founder of the publishing house and magazine McSweeney's and the cofounder of 826 Valencia, a youth writing center that has inspired similar programs around the world.
His work has been translated into forty-two languages.
- Publisher : Penguin (24 April 2014)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 512 pages
- ISBN-10 : 024114650X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0241146507
- Item Weight : 396 g
- Dimensions : 12.9 x 2.8 x 19.8 cm
- Country of Origin : India
- Best Sellers Rank: #196,247 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in India on 20 February 2021
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Top reviews from India
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It was some of those books that hypes everything up to the last page and then does something flat or expected that makes you feel like you wasted time reading it.
Don't get me wrong.
I did enjoy it till the very last page.
It was the last page that ruined it.
That being said if you like books that really explore and have conversations about internet and society it's a very good book to pick up.
But just for that. Not as a story.
Top reviews from other countries
It quickly gets into some interesting spaces (which are either chillingly depressing or encouraging, depending on where you stand). It's really well worth a read.
I am not saying that it's perfect. Some of the characters are a bit one dimensional, some of the plot points are a bit hard to swallow (it is hopelessly naive to think that any politician or any organisation would ever allow cameras into everything they do) but this feels like it is asking some very important questions. As the real world Googles and Facebooks hoover up ever more data about us, data that we are not necessarily aware we are sharing (have YOU ever read any of the terms and conditions of any online service? of course not), and as we are able to be tracked n real time by our phone companies, have Google reading our emails etc etc etc these questions need to be discussed and debated in society.
This book starts to ask the questions. It doesn't offer any answers, but, hey, Eggers is a novelist, not a politician. He doesn't have to. They do.
Mae Holland is in her early twenties when she finds the job of every young person’s dream: to be a newby at the Circle, the revolutionary, hi-tech campus where any truly innovative idea in the technology and IT fields is being born. The principle driving all circlers is: everyone’s life’s for sharing - sounds familiar?
From articles to pictures to posts telling everyone at the Circle and beyond how your day is going, every circler gets evaluated and appreciated and ranked through other users’ scores and comments and appreciation or devaluation.
This until the day Mae accepts to be the guinea pig in the new 24/7 transparency experiment. Wearing a camera around her neck and sharing up to 20 hours of her daily life with users from all around the world Mae wants to show how every negative aspect of life on the planet, starting with violence and abuse and political corruption, can be prevented was everyone eventually forced to be a member of the Circle and, as a consequence, eventually go transparent were they to keep their position inside government offices, agencies, schools and even public services.
A total, 24/7, 100% control of every individual, even those, as we see at some point, who chose not to adhere to the Circle’s impositions and rules.
I had watched the movie when it first came out on Netflix and was quite curious to read the book it was based on.
I must say with the movie they did a great job but for one important detail: main character May is much more agreeable in the movie than she is in the book.
In the movie her ex’s Mercer’s death is accidental, a fatality she did not mean to happen. In the book, although this is still kind of fatality, it is pushed by Mae’s arrogance and insistence in involving reluctant, cast away Mercer into the controlling eye of the Circle.
Also, “paper” Mae is much more ruthless, ambitious, self-driven than her on screen equivalent. And the epilogue in the book couldn’t be more different than the movie’s, although perfectly in line with a character I despised almost from the beginning.
On a negative note, and here’s my 3 stars final vote’s reason: the book would indeed have still done well was it a good 150 pages shorter.
I was not hooked in during the first few pages but it didn't take must longer for me to become very intrigued by the ideas in the plot. It is a fictional look at the way that an internet based company can learn all about you and use that information for it's own benefit. We see the company through the eyes of a new employee who is in awe of the company's power whilst being a little scared if it's potential. Mae is used as an observer - she can be objective to begin with and we watch as she gets hooked in.
The writing is intensely observational and will leave any reader with a scary feeling about posting to any site. This book has made me think deeply about how I post (but I'm not sure it will change anything I do??).
It should be emphasized that this is fictional but much of the plot has happened in Google and Facebook since the publication which makes this book an uncomfortable read.
I have empathy for the addictive influence of the competitive environment with in the Circle - the desperation to participate and be seen. Their world gets weird when the effects of the company spreads and makes major changes within the world, with the question of "who is in control?" hanging in the air.
Mae's ex boyfriend questions and criticizes the Circle's principles. This is a blunt plot device but works well as he has an influential effect on Mae and her parents.
As the plot moves on I started to draw parallels with "1984", taking George Orwell's dystopian world way beyond anything he could have imagined.
The book is full of carefully plotted twists and turns, some I guessed and others I didn't. Towards the end there is an unsettling build up of tension culminating in a surprising ending.
‘THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER ~ a dark, thrilling & unputdownable novel about our obsession with the internet.’
~ THE CIRCLE
~ DAVE EGGERS
~ PENGUIN BOOKS
Measuring around 12.5 cm x 19.5 cm, the eye-catching cut-away card cover opens to 492 good quality, matte finish pages.
From the back cover:
📝 'The Circle runs everything ~ all your internet activity in one easy, safe and visible place. No wonder it is now the world’s most powerful and influential company.
So when Mae Holland lands a job at its glittering California campus, she knows she’s made it. But the more her ideals and ambitions become aligned with those of the Circle, the closer she comes to discovering a sinister truth at the heart of an organisation seeking to remake the world in its image...’
The main character, Mae, is a dolt. She flung herself at the two men that gave her the attention, one being a weirdo who happened to be the first guy she spoke to (Francis) and a guy absolutely no-one seemed to know but she liked how he touched her with his hand that one time and the fact he gave her a "green lemon" (Kalden). She was also absolutely spiteful to her ex (Mercer) despite there seemingly not being much reason to except him being pompous but even then, she never insulted him because of that but instead always went to his weight.
A lot of the other reviews compare this to 1984 by George Orwell. Sure, the premise is very similar but this book wishes it did anything else like 1984. 1984 could also get away with some things as it was set a quarter of a century after it was published so it could get away with deus ex machina because it was set in a time that hasn't happened yet while The Circle is seemingly set in the time it was published, 2013 (they reference current issues and events and even tout the 7 billion population number at one point). This is probably nitpicky on my part but anyone even familiar with tech can call out when something feels off, an example for me being the "lollipop" cameras that can somehow stream in high quality in third world countries, places that wouldn't have stable internet and even then, if there was stable internet, The Circle would be losing out on money because of server space (I compare this to Twitch having a bitrate cap unless you're a partner but you're still capped in some ways and partners make up a minority on the site). I felt like this was written by a technophobic 50 year old man in a tin foil hat (ironically, something used more than once in a negative light in the book) because of just how out of touch this is (The sex references point me in this direction too). The impression is that we would accept a society where a huge tech company can invade on everyone's privacy just because it's a tech company we like. If Apple or Google did anything like this, we'd freak out, petition, picket it and the government wouldn't stand for it either. Yeah, sure, suspension of disbelief but it feels like this is set in our reality. It references real murderers and the death of Osama Bin Laden. If this was set 100 years from now, it might've gotten away with it. I also don't think George Orwell ever used the metaphor "It's like the baby is giving a handjob".
I believe the best way to read this book is as a parody, like if Alex Jones wrote a book. I am hoping, begging and praying the author intended it to be taken in this way because it seems everyone is doing the opposite and I can't help but feel people are thinking this book is more clever than it actually is.