Periodic Pretentious Book Reviews: ‘The Circle’ By Dave Eggers

No, I have not seen the movie. Nor am I sure I will ever see the movie. This is just about the book.

So, let’s begin!

  • What’s It About?

The Circle is about a near-future world where a company modeled after Silicon Valley corporations integrates technology into the world that breaks down the concept of privacy.

  • What’s It Like?

The Circle is a slow, sort of long-winded journey into the ideas of what future technology might be like on our present course. It is third person limited and follows around Mae, a new employee at The Circle, who more and more over the course of the book folds into the ideals of the company. She acts as an effective every(wo)man so that the audience can comfortably understand the location and its nature. But, though she is a character with some personality, the book focuses more on telling what amounts to, and presents itself like, a cautionary fairy tale. Characters exist as mouthpieces for various ideas, and it is more about the functions of technology, and how it relates to personal life, than any journey of a character. It concerns itself, to a marked degree, with simply showing you the eventualities of current mindsets. And, as such, it is super useful for someone younger to read. But, unfortunately, The Circle contains sexual content that may preclude someone of the right age from doing so.

  • Potential Turn-Offs

The Circle asks a lot of its readers. To enjoy the book, you need to have an already heavy understanding of social media, current notions of privacy, and human nature in general. The narrator is so detached that you cannot tell something has upset a character until the narrator informs you they are crying about it. And, additionally, the book is long and spends sometimes upwards (by my estimation) of twenty pages explaining how a single piece of technology works. And while these almost-tangents were often fascinating in a “check out the specs of this new device” sort of way, they can also come off as droning to certain readers.

Also, if you have a pet peeve with the phrase “as you know,” then this book will drive you insane.

  • Did I Like It?

I’m in an odd place with this one. I love explorations of future tech, especially in dark stories. And, to tick another box for me, The Circle is terrifying in a way hard to explain. Like Cosmic horror or existential horror, it deals with the unsettling nature of something vast and unstoppable and impossible to escape from in any meaningful way. The monster of The Circle is the internet, and the culture we now have, and if nothing else, it did deeply disturb me—which is not an easy thing to do. But, again, the book really does drag in places. The ending sentences are incredible and the message important, but, ultimately, pacing issues kill it from being one of my favorites.

  • Final Score: 7/10
  • Digital or Physical: Digital. Only because reading it on a phone or tablet makes the themes more powerful and—in an interesting way—makes the book more interactive.
  • Devour or Savor? Devour, if you can manage it. The book is, yet again, long. And, due to its major focus on technology, starting and stopping reading it over a long period can lead to forgetting who some of the characters are—as there are a lot of them.

Special thanks to: Bob GerkinCollin PearmanDylan AlexanderJerry Banfield, and Michael The Comic Nerd. 

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