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The Circle (2013)

by Dave Eggers

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,2803471,882 (3.38)10 / 209
"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 the world--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"--… (more)
Recently added byPyroCat, enkdindleThis, blais, private library, fatcatboo, SynVisions, Counterfuture, amiraa
Legacy LibrariesTim Spalding
  1. 80
    1984 by George Orwell (sparemethecensor)
    sparemethecensor: The Circle could easily have ended with the line, "Mae loved Big Brother."
  2. 61
    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: Die totale Überwachung: einmal unfreiwillig, das andere Mal völlig freiwillig
  3. 21
    Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (conceptDawg)
    conceptDawg: Similar content and themes
  4. 10
    Feed by M. T. Anderson (vwinsloe)
    vwinsloe: The insidiousness of the internet, corporations and being constantly online.
  5. 10
    The Language of the Third Reich: LTI -- Lingua Tertii Imperii: A Philologist's Notebook by Victor Klemperer (Jozefus)
    Jozefus: Voor de opmerkelijke overeenkomst tussen de kretologie van de IT-wereld en de retoriek van het Derde Rijk
  6. 10
    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by David Shafer (BeckyJG)
  7. 00
    Paradise City: Thriller (suhrkamp taschenbuch) by Zoe Beck (JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: Spannende Romane, die in der nahen Zukunft spielen. Gesundheitsüberwachung ist in beiden wichtiges, aber nicht das einzige Thema.
  8. 00
    NSA - Nationales Sicherheits-Amt: Roman by Andreas Eschbach (Florian_Brennstoff)
    Florian_Brennstoff: Dataism becoming Totalitarism and vice versa. The Circle adresses the totalitarian threat, rising from a corporation that openly promotes total transparency. NSA shows what happened when a totalitarian regime gets hold of the vital data of all the citizens.… (more)
  9. 00
    Blind Faith by Ben Elton (isabelx)
    isabelx: both are set in societies where privacy is becoming a thing of the past
  10. 11
    The Dinner by Herman Koch (akblanchard)
    akblanchard: Both of these are novels of ideas.

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English (325)  Dutch (8)  German (6)  French (3)  Italian (3)  Swedish (1)  Croatian (1)  All languages (347)
Showing 1-5 of 325 (next | show all)
In Dave Eggers' The Circle, we're ever-so-slightly in the future, and one large umbrella company has taken over most of what happens on the internet: all your social media and e-commerce goes through a TruYou profile, a product of The Circle. When Mae Holland, a recent graduate of an East Coast private liberal arts school who grew up in working class California, is able to get a job at The Circle through her friend Annie, she's thrilled. The sprawling and luxurious Bay Area campus is beyond her wildest dreams and the company is at the forefront of every breaking new development in internet technology. She's increasingly drawn into the world of The Circle as it encroaches further and further into formerly private arenas of life, and can't understand her family and friends who resist the shifting landscape of the world.

Theoretically, this is a really good book, a modern 1984. When you hear about things like the lawsuit in Spain about the right to be forgotten, it really makes you think about how deeply the internet has enmeshed itself in our lives. The Circle illustrates how slippery the slope could be for it to completely invade all aspects of our existence...microchipping and GPS tracking children to prevent kidnapping, very small constantly streaming webcams to open up closed regimes, politicians livestreaming their professional duties to make government transparent. All of these things sound like they're positive developments on the surface, but it creates a culture of constant surveillance.

Where the book fails, though, is the execution. Mae (short for Maebelline, which I thought was a nifty way to communicate what kind of people her parents were without having to spell anything out) is obviously meant to be an audience-insert character, like Twilight's Bella. But it doesn't work here to the extent it works for Twilight...the characteristics Mae is given, ambition and a certain amount of selfishness, render her mostly unpleasant. She needs to be a compelling character to have us follow her down the proverbial rabbit hole, but she has no real personality. She seems close to her family in the beginning, but drafts away from them easily and without apparent regret. She has "relationships" with peers like Annie and her ex-boyfriend Mercer, but we're not given any sense of history or any reason to believe that she's actually emotionally connected to other people. The writing is clunky, with awkward phrasing all over the place. It's extra disappointing because the ideas behind the book are there, and if it had been rendered better it could have been amazing. I understand why it flopped, and I wouldn't recommend it. ( )
  GabbyHM | Jun 24, 2020 |
I appreciate everything that author Dave Eggers has done to increase youth literacy (see 826national.org), so I am always ready to give one of his books a chance, even though they can be hit-or-miss. This one is a little of both. It is Animal Farm or 1984, but this time Big Brother is the future of google, and it is only mildly unbelievable. Most of the tech acolyte characters are in their 20's and fall easily in line with a world in which privacy is a crime, and everyone has the right to know everything about everyone. Reading this as someone a generation older than that (and seeing whispers of the characters' thinking in my own teenager' actions) I wonder how the book would be perceived by people in this age group--does it seem extreme, or scarily prescient? ( )
  sanyamakadi | Jun 13, 2020 |
As much as I enjoyed the pace and subject matter of the story, the picket up my ass from sitting on the fence grew uncomfortable. As an introvert who likes computer mediated interactions, I wanted some of this ubiquitous sharing to be real ��� feeling compelled to post on Facebook in between pages ��� but obviously don't want it taken to the conclusion either. Frightening that it probably will be.
  brandonlee | Jun 11, 2020 |
Feels like a Dan Brown novel. Meagre plot, barely any character development. Maybe it's because the book is a couple of years old, but it didn't contain anything new as far as ideas are concerned. The warning still stands, but as a novel, the book is subpar. ( )
  Cuchulainn | Jun 7, 2020 |
I'm pretty sure I want to scrub my online persona and live in the woods, now. ( )
  amandanan | Jun 6, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 325 (next | show all)
Van alle romans die ik dit jaar las, is De Cirkel van Dave Eggers het meest blijven na-ijlen. Niet omdat het literair het beste boek is, maar vanwege de verontrustende beelden die het oproept, beelden die na de laatste bladzijde niet langzaam wegebben, maar hinderlijk blijven doorspoken. De Cirkel is het 1984 van het internettijdperk genoemd, maar beschrijft een werkelijkheid die veel nabijer lijkt en daardoor dreigender voelt dan Orwells tijdloze boek.
added by sneuper | editde Volkskrant, Hans Bouman (Dec 18, 2013)
Even as satire, The Circle is disappointing as a novel: the plot is too easy, the prose simple, the characters flat and undistinguishable. Due to these same qualities, however, The Circle succeeds as commentary on the era of big data and transparency. The scary part is that the Silicon Valley of The Circle barely seems like a caricature. The easiest comparison of the Circle is to Google — whose Mountain View campus keeps its employees fed, fit, massaged, and, well, kept. The Circle’s mottos and mantras are the same buzzwords already posted on billboards and batted around in cafes and bars.
Some will call The Circle a “dystopia,” but there’s no sadistic slave-whipping tyranny on view in this imaginary America: indeed, much energy is expended on world betterment by its earnest denizens. Plagues are not raging, nor is the planet blowing up or even warming noticeably. Instead we are in the green and pleasant land of a satirical utopia for our times, where recycling and organics abound, people keep saying how much they like each another, and the brave new world of virtual sharing and caring breeds monsters.
Het onrecht dat in The Circle bestreden wordt, is de expansiedrift van Silicon Valley, zoveel is vanaf de eerste pagina duidelijk. En Eggers gebruikt daarvoor de meest absurde metaforen: drones uitgerust met camera’s die mensen zonder Circle-account achtervolgen en ‘ik wil gewoon vrienden worden’ scanderen, of een transparante haai die een heel aquarium leegeet. Het punt is gemaakt, Dave Eggers.
Toch verdient Eggers een like. Zijn versie van de wereld is bewust extreem: hoe het wordt als we allemaal zulke schapen worden als Mae Holland, die kritiekloos Silicon Valley achternalopen. Hij verzint een wereld die – veel maar net niet helemaal – op de onze lijkt, waarin mensen hun vrijheid inleveren, betoverd door quasifilosofische toespraken, moderne bedrijfsvoering en onbeperkt aandacht van een miljoenenpubliek. Eggers vraagt zich niet af welke wereld er is, maar welke kan komen. En zoals in The Circle heeft hij het duidelijk liever niet.
added by sneuper | editVN, Tim de Gier (Nov 5, 2013)
This potential dystopia should sound familiar. Books and tweets and blogs are already debating the issues Eggers raises: the tyranny of transparency, personhood defined as perpetual presence in social networks, our strange drive to display ourselves, the voracious information appetites of Google and Facebook, our lives under the constant surveillance of our own government.

“The Circle” adds little of substance to the debate. Eggers reframes the discussion as a fable, a tale meant to be instructive. His instructors include a Gang of 40, a Transparent Man, a shadowy figure who may be a hero or a villain, a Wise Man with a secret chamber and a smiling legion of true-believing company employees. The novel has the flavor of a comic book: light, entertaining, undemanding.

» Add other authors (20 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eggers, DaveAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baardman, GerdaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Biekmann, LidwienTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Graham, DionNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hische, JessicaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mantovani, VincenzoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mudde, BrendaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tukker, EllesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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There wasn't any limit, no boundary at all, to the future. And it would be so a man wouldn't have room to store his happiness.
John Steinbeck
East of Eden
First words
My God, Mae thought. It's heaven.
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.
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?
"We will become all-seeing, all-knowing." The audience was standing now. The applause thundered through the room. Mae rested her head on Annie's shoulder. "All that happens will be known," Annie whispered.
Having a matrix of preferences presented as your essence, the whole you? Maybe that was it. It was some kind of mirror, but it was incomplete, distorted.
"You're always looking at me through a hundred other people's eyes."
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