I received this book free from Library Thing in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Circle by Dave Eggers
Published by Knopf on October 8th 2013
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Sci-fi
Source: Library Thing
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The Circle is the exhilarating new novel from Dave Eggers, best-selling 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 America—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.
In the world introduced in ‘The Circle’, individuals become completely transparent and are stripped of their anonymity even when performing menial tasks. Mae Holland has just secured a position with The Circle thanks to her friend Annie, a high-ranking employee at The Circle. Mae’s involvement in the company slowly begins overtaking everything and without stopping to consider, her entire life ends up being put on display for anyone willing to see.
‘TruYou changed the internet, in toto, within a year. Though some sites were resistant at first, and free-internet advocates shouted about the right to be anonymous online, the TruYou wave was tidal and crushed all meaninful opposition. It started with the commerce sites. Why would any non-porn site want anonymous users when they could know exactly who had come through the door? Overnight, all comment boards became civil, all posters held accountable. The trolls, who had more or less overtaken the internet, were driven back into the darkness.’
So essentially the only people that truly care about privacy in this world are trolls and people who view porn online. Everybody else is fully willing to give up their privacy. Right. Because that’s totally legit. And comment boards became civil overnight all because people’s real names were disclosed thus insinuating that the only thing encouraging people to state their opinions on the Internet was their anonymity? And I loved how the creation of the Unified Operating System, also known as TruYou, which basically took all user accounts and passwords and made them into one all encompassing login, revolutionized the Internet and prevented identity theft. You’d think if you only had one single password it’d be easier rather than more difficult to hack someones information but maybe we’re not supposed to think too hard on these technological creations of Eggers, especially considering his supposed lack of research on the subject. (“There were a handful of times when I looked something up, or asked the opinion of someone more tech-savvy than I am, but for the most part this was just a process of pure speculative fiction.” –Source) His lack of research is abundantly clear with the naming of his main invention, Unified Operating System, which isn’t even an Operating System at all. Windows? OS X? Linux? Android? Those are Operating Systems. Computer software that manages the computers hardware. For someone that decided to write a 504 page book dedicated to technology I would have expected him to know that at the very least.
It’s obvious that Eggers himself harbors a deep dislike of technology and the way the Internet is growing and expanding in society as that’s the way it was written, in a smug and dismissive manner. Each time Mae’s ex-boyfriend Mercer makes an appearance the opportunity is taken to preach his opinions about her job and what companies like ‘The Circle’ are doing to this world. It’s clear Eggers is the embodiment of Mercer and he used that character to push his agenda which is completely fine by me, but the opinions of technological advances were written as black and white where people are either completely for or completely against those advances. Personally, I found myself in a grey area and I’m doubtfully the only like-minded individual.
Setting all that aside I really have to mention the worst thing about this book: the sex scenes. Not only was there a completely unnecessary romance, but the embarrassingly graphic sex scenes told from the point of view of a female were awful (not to mention the scene where Mae walked in on her parents? Served absolutely no purpose to the advancement of the storyline.) Maybe it would’ve been better if the main character was a male and Eggers could have made it sound like he has a modicum of sense in regards to what goes on in the bedroom. The bothersome descriptive words makes me hope someone will steal that man’s thesaurus. Here a few cringe-worthy examples:
‘Then his eyes closed, and he went into paroxysms, emitting a brief squeal before grunting his arrival.’
Squeal? Grunting? ARRIVAL? No, no, no.
“Sometimes,” he said, and breathed fire into her ear.
My. That sounds painful.
‘She could think only of a campfire, one small log, all of it doused in milk.’
Okay, maybe this is a little out of context and hard to understand but there had just been an embarrassing sexual situation where the man was a bit too… quick with it. And Eggers uses a ‘small log’ and ‘milk’ as the descriptive terms. Good grief, NO.
The Circle is at times a bit of a satiric story on the technological advances in this day and age but does manage to bring up some points that would be worth discussing. If it was a non-biased written interpretation on the future possibilities of technology it could have been well received (by me) but as it stands it was written too much like The Circle was ‘Big Brother’ and everything associated with technology is inherently bad. The laughable ending which involves robot drones directed by social media hordes that essentially cause a murder only solidified my displeasure.