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Random House LLC
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The Circle Kindle Edition
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|Length: 524 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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Top Customer Reviews
“The Circle” makes some important points about timely issues such as the end of privacy (already upon us), totalitarianism/monopolies, the power of “groupthink” and delusion, and the weaknesses of governments that are incestuously linked to private corporations. However, I found myself skimming through parts where it got bogged down. On one hand, Eggers’ attention to detail is impressive and extremely conscientious. For instance, he details the Circle’s elaborate system of success metrics (a combination of performance and social media rankings) that eerily parallels today’s times. But he also spent a lot of time describing the mechanics of Mae’s job as a customer service rep, and I’m not sure there was a point to having to digest all those specifics. I think a talented editor could have honed this manuscript down to 300 pages instead of 500, while still making the main points.
I also found it odd that Mae (the protagonist) did not undergo a major character transformation, since most novels follow that formula. Mae is sort of a “flat character” with little emotional depth. I kept hoping Mae would see the error of the Circle’s philosophy and her acceptance of it. But maybe the point is that good people can find themselves embroiled in ultimately bad things due to a lack of awareness and insight. Mae is, after all, only in her 20s. Perhaps she just lacks the wisdom and empathy that come with age and experience. Yet Mae’s character flaws – megalomania and self-delusion – seem deeply ingrained in her psyche (e.g., her refusal to admit to herself how her behavior resulted in the death of someone close to her).
As Mae and the other Circlers approach “completion,” ironically, the people in Mae’s inner circle – her parents, her best friend, her ex-boyfriend – begin dropping out of her life. It serves as a cautionary tale about how obsession and delusion can lead to the destruction of what’s most important to us.
I think the big issue for me is that, unlike say "1984" (to which this book frequently alludes) or "Fahrenheit 451" or even "The Hunger Games," the stakes just didn't feel that high in this dystopia. Part of the issue is that the protagonist, Mae, never questions anything, ever. She goes along with everything and any bit of cognitive dissonance is left unexamined, just buried under her distractions. Maybe that's the point? That if we never take any time to reflect, then we'll never be able to counter an all-powerful entity. Regardless, it's hard to get on board with the idea that this universe is dystopic when the narrator is simply complacent and complicit.
There's so much text devoted to the The Circle's "good intentions" and good press that when the few, disparate, terrible consequences of a police state appear, they don't really feel as impactful as they should. A Congresswoman is ruined and we never hear about it again. Characters' deaths fall flat. Characters cut themselves off from The Circle's surveillance but the consequences are never really revealed. And the finale just felt so rushed and bare!
(Also, I found Mercer, Mae's foil, absolutely insufferable. In my opinion he fails as a voice of reason.)
I feel like Eggers did a great job of bringing the world he created to the brink of disaster but just kind of left it dangling. There's all of this suspense, but there's no exploration of the real, concrete consequences of the future he's proposing. Mob executions of criminals/deviants? Police violence being justified due to our pasts? Erasure of dissidents? Destroying and distorting information like in 1984? We don't know, and frankly, I'm not invested enough to wonder too much about it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fifteen more words required and then the circle will be complete ... all data stored.
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