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Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Circle | Dave Eggers


Genre: Thriller
Number of Pages: 491
Perspective: Third
Location: California

“Did you ever think that perhaps our minds are delicately calibrated between the known and the unknown? That our souls need the mysteries of night and the clarity of day? Young people are creating ever-present daylight, and I think it will burn us all alive. There will be no time to reflect, to sleep to cool.” 

The Circle is an internet company that slowly starts to take away personal privacy. They transform from a simple way of connecting to other people to a tyrannical monopoly. For a complete summary, you can go here.

The first fourth of this book, I couldn’t help but think about the movie The Internship, which is about Google’s large campus for its employees. The Circle’s campus was an exaggerated version of that: tennis courts, daycares, dorms for employees working overnight, staff parties, etc. I actually assumed that the whole book was about what Google could become in a not-so-distant future. 

This book made me very stressed (and I don’t mean because of the message of the book). I don’t mind books making me feel something—happy, sad, mad, scared, upset—but books should be my release from daily stresses. I don’t need a book that makes me feel like I am at work in an office setting, multi-tasking, and getting reprimanded. Hearing the steps of Mae’s day repeatedly stressed me out. 

I think that this is an important book, as it is a modern day 1984. It is the type of book that middle school and high school students will be forced to read, but they won’t quite understand all the nuances. This book was a satire of what our world can become at the hands of technology companies. It was eerie because we have the capabilities to do almost everything that occurs in this book: facial recognition, tiny mobile cameras, instant streaming, surveillance and tracking devices, drones, and constant updates on social media. The story is slow, but it really builds a logical progression from where we are now with technology to where we can go. You even start to believe that maybe some of these things are really great ideas. Then you have to stop and think, “Wait, I don’t want everyone in the world to know what I am doing 24/7”. You also have to think about how now everyone has phones with cameras and video capabilities, so you realistically can be documented doing anything, by anyone, at any time. It truly is terrifying. 

I appreciated the detail of the day-to-day work so that we could get a good idea of what was going on in Mae’s life, but it was way too drawn out. The same point could have been conveyed in half the number of pages. I really didn’t need to know every single customer service problem Mae had to deal with. 

I also felt that most of the characters lacked depth—which could possibly be a statement that we don’t really know much about people in the technology age. I thought that Annie and Kalden were the only interesting characters, and they were still superficial and mysterious, respectively. There were many unnecessary supporting characters that didn’t add anything to the book. I didn’t think it was important to be introduced to so many coworkers. 

For as long as the book was, I thought it ended abruptly. It didn’t really tie up all the loose ends and give any kind of finality. The whole book, I was waiting for something really huge to happen, and as soon as something was about to happen, the book ended. I was left wanting something more, especially since it was advertised as a thriller.

Extra complaint: This book had no chapters!! That—and super long chapters—is something that I can’t stand in books. I need some sort of breaking point where I can stop. I hate to have to stop reading in the middle of a scene, sentence, or paragraph, but there was no avoiding that in this book. 

I really could keep going about this book, but I’ll leave it at this for now. I would still recommend this book to anyone. The message outweighs any of my complaints about the book itself. Like I said before, I think it important to read, and it will definitely make you question social media and technology—especially someone like me, who relies on the internet and social media for my career. If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it  here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

“Most people would trade everything they know, everyone they know—-they’d trade it all to know they've been seen, and acknowledged, that they might even be remembered. We all know the world is too big for us to be significant. So all we have is the hope of being seen, or heard, even for a moment.” 

 3/5 Stars

*****

o Amber Gregg




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