Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Book Review- The Circle by Dave Eggers

I promise after this post that I will stop talking about how busy my summer has been. For a while there, I wasn’t reading before bed like I usually do. One day, my mom put The Circle by Dave Eggers on my bookshelf, and I brought it to a shift where I knew I had some time to read. I ended up reading it in four sittings. The Circle is a company that is all about connection and social media and engagement. You know how Google is supposed to be the best place in the world to work? Well, this company is like that. They even have nap rooms. Mae starts her work there and falls in love with the way the company is run. It seems like a positive atmosphere with unlimited resources (don’t even get me started about their amazing library). The Circle is forward thinking and constantly changing. New people are always brought in and all treated with the utmost respect and care. Everyone is a visionary and takes inspiration from each other. Mae becomes the centre of The Circle’s latest technology and skyrockets in popularity all over the world. As The Circle reaches “completion,” Mae starts having anxiety issues about alienating her family and cutting ties to past relationships. This novel creates a powerful message about the impacts of expansion and growing technology in today’s world.

There was a lot I liked and a lot I didn’t like about this novel. Eggers does a fantastic job at giving relevant background on the characters. The descriptions build up a distinct voice for each character that is consistent throughout the novel. Eggers is talented at conversational text and highlighting things like natural human awkwardness. The bits of romance interspersed in the novel were seamlessly integrated, so it wasn’t unwanted in context (that means a lot coming from me). I really grew to love or hate certain characters. I was so unsure of Mae the whole time and ended up losing all my respect for her. Kalden (love interest) was a love/hate character but Mercer (ex) was my absolute favourite. The latter characters provided a refreshing opposition to the blind acceptance coming from the rest of the characters. The contrast of the opposition is blatant in this novel, so Kalden and Mercer were brilliant characters in that sense. The ending to this novel, to me, was completely unpredictable. The fast-paced text made for an easy book to read, but of course, there are certain things that I did not like.


I ended up questioning so much about The Circle and their intentions from the beginning. Their code names and exclusivity laid out a creepy feeling that hung there throughout the text. The way they can track everyone in the world made me uneasy. The problem solving techniques involved a lot of making an example out of people and talking down to people. It was a complete contrast to the respect that was previously paid to employees. The Circle forces engagement with on-site activities and inter-company relations. You forge to reply to a message? Too bad – that person now hates you. Everyone is willing to follow everything a leader says because they have all the power to make it the next big thing. There is no space to explore your own personal hobbies because it must be shared with anyone else. There’s no space to be yourself. You can see how that’s problematic.

The thing is, this book made me think. My mom told me she hated it because it goes against everything she has ever told me and my sister about regarding social media. There was this whole political aspect about being transparent, but I don’t see that as a good thing. I don’t want people to know what I’m doing at every point of my day. Sometimes, I have bad days where I am a passive member of society and watch Netflix all day. I choose not to expose that on social media because no one needs to see that. Personal time is important and I don’t care who you are, but you need it! Mae ends up becoming controlled and self-centered and isn’t that what happens to us? We want more likes on Facebook, more followers on Instagram and more views on our blog. I felt so sorry for Mae because she needs constant validation and the sad thing is, I can see that same characteristic in myself. There’s a point to be made about accountability. If we are being watched all the time, would it make people less likely to commit crimes? Sure. It will also make for less genuine moments. The best message in novel comes at the end. The ending is open-ended. There are pieces missing from the story. The ending is a direct reflection on how we all approach social media. The question turns to you – do you need to know the ending or can you be content with the way it is?

I give this book 4/5 stars. It was almost a 5, but there was just too much about it that made my stomach turn. Have you read this book? Comment below and tell me if you have or if you will read it after this.

-Daniella

P.S. I just found out that they’re adapting it to movie form starring Tom Hanks and Emma Watson!