Author: Dave Eggers
Published: Penguin Books, 2014
My rating: 2.5/5
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 it's 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...
WHAT I THOUGHT:
Many of the reviews emblazoned on and inside the book remark on how unputdownable this book was. Unfortunately, I can't help but think that this was partly down the the fact the there were NO CHAPTERS making it difficult to find a place to stop. I've never found chapters to be such a pivotal part of a book before but I found the pace of this book a little hard to get along with without the break up.
Instead of chapters Eggers has divided the book into 3 (though there are no hints that this will happen until you hit book 2 over halfway though and book 3 with about 10 pages to go) and I think it's best if I tackle this review book by book.
This book started strongly. Mae, our protagonist, and her life are just about lacking enough to be believable and relatable and she becomes a rather interesting character. You explore the Circle with her and discover as she does. Francis at this point is an intriguing possibility, not at all the kind of guy you expect your protagonist to end up with but good enough for now. Then, as if just on cue, in walks Kalden; a man suitably mysterious and exciting. The book as a whole is praised for it's chilling plausibility and Book I makes this praise seem rather suitable. Companies like Google and PayPal are now seemingly inescapable when it comes to internet activity so an overarching, far-reaching company that owns and oversees all internet activity is a very strong premise for a book and there were so many more routes that Eggers could have gone down to keep his book plausible and gripping.
When Mae goes "transparent" things, I feel, start to go downhill. We take leaps and bounds toward implausibility and Eggers loses the strongest thing he had going for him and his book. Mae becomes rather a dislikable human being in her over-eagerness to accept the Circle into every aspect of her life. She becomes almost entirely incapable of individual thought and her character becomes depressingly one-dimensional. I became almost entirely uninterested in Mae's story and I found I only carried on reading in the hope that maybe things might turn around.
There's little to say about book III as it is rather short. Book II ends and you are hopeful that Mae has found a tiny scrap of integrity within herself but unfortunately all faith is lost in Mae and with it all the progress and headway Eggers made in Book I.
My greatest issue with this book is the fact that it relies far to much on people's ability to lose their cynicism and, as a cynic myself, I find this very difficult to find plausible. While it has been shown that there are people who will latch on to any new craze I wonder if as few people would question this kind of organisation encroaching on every single aspect of their lives, implanting chips into their children and peeking in on every moment of their day.
This book is nothing if not thought-provoking I will give Eggers that. It is a very interesting premise and while I feel he failed to exploit it as well as was possible I do believe that the route he took could spark some very interesting debate about privacy and the right to anonymity. Despite the negative tone of this review, on the whole I would recommend this book to anyone after something different and thought-provoking as it really is a great idea for a book but it is definitely not one I will be revisiting myself.
Thanks for reading and feel free to comment :)
Naomi Joy xx