Saturday, December 17, 2016

Quick Pick book review: The Circle, by Dave Eggers

Book Review: The Circle, by Dave Eggers
  • Opening lines: My God, Mae thought. It's heaven.

    The campus was vast and rambling, wild with Pacific color, and yet the smallest detail had been carefully considered, shaped by the most eloquent hands. On land that had once been a shipyard, then a drive-in movie theater, then a flea market, then blight, there were now soft green hills and a Calatrava fountain. And a picnic area, which tables arranged in concentric circles. And tennis courts, clay and grass. And a volleyball court, where tiny children from the company's daycare center were running, squealing, weaving like water. Amid all this was a workplace, too, four hundred acres of brushed steel and glass on the headquarters of the most influential company in the world. The sky above was spotless and blue.
  • Reason I picked up the book: It's being made into a movie, starring Emma Watson and Tom Hanks, which will be out in April 2017. I've also read Dave Eggers' autobiography, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, back in college, and it was great. 
  • And what's this book about?
  • 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.
  • Favorite paragraph: Mae knew that she never wanted to work - never wanted to be - anywhere else. Her hometown, and the rest of California, the rest of America, seemed like some chaotic mess in the developing world. Outside the walls of the Circle, all was noise and struggle, failure and filth. But here, all had been perfected. The best people had made the best systems and the best systems had reaped funds, unlimited funds, that made possible this, the best place to work. And it was natural that it was so, Mae thought. Who else but utopians could make utopia?
  • Recommended for: Anyone who uses the internet a lot - be it Facebook, Google, etc. The company in this book (called The Circle, appropriately) reminded me of both of those corporations, although far more all-encompassing. The book mentions Facebook once in it, though, so we know it's not that actual company, though it seemed to be based on campuses like Facebook's and Google's.
  • Something to know: This seems to take place in the near future, although the year is never mentioned - one thing that clued me in to this is that Mae mentions that the USPS only operates on Fridays now, for the delivery of paper mail.
  • What I would have changed: Nothing. Although the ending was interesting, it fit in with the tone of the book. I'm curious to see if they keep that ending in the movie version or not.
  • Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
  • Where can I find this book? Click here to purchase.


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