The Circle by Dave Eggers

I hate books with unlikable characters. The mere fact that it took me 14 days to finish this short novel clearly means that something bad was going on. The novel didn’t captivate me in any way possible. The premise was great, but the execution was laughable.

The Circle is a company wherein transparency is the natural law whereas secrecy is the eternal sin. An employee is trained to be competent in their jobs but they are also required to be socially active in the company. They have a facebook-like thing going on where people “zing” each other and also give “smiles” and “frowns” to further expose their lives. At first it was still a bit normal for Mae to succumb to such demands, but as the novel progressed, the company showed its true colors. It was seriously stupid of Mae to answer about 900+ survey questions in one sitting. I know it’s important for them to socialize and know more about each other, but the way they did it was just wrong and I would’ve left the company right away.

The Circle at first seemed like it was just concerned that Mae wasn’t being socially active with her workmates, but it slowly turned into insanity. The Circle seemed like it had a world of its own. Actually that’s the most plausible description of it. They were constantly trying to boost their scores by updating and interacting with people in the company. Their main priority was fellow workmates. Life in the outside world was indirectly mandated as their least priority, Even family was to be considered less important than the company itself. The only thing missing would be for them to call themselves a country already, or why not a planet.

For me the sense of privacy is very important. I know celebrities naturally tend to get less of this, but The Circle was just plain old absurd. I know this thin could happen in the near future, and i hope that people wouldn’t be dumb enough to accept this as something normal. There is a difference between being sociable and being completely transparent. There’s no need to know everything about a person, and personal information shouldn’t be readily available to be viewed online by anyone. Let me add in that the camera and mic shit going on with Mae in the near end was the epitome of absurdity. She was one of the most stupid characters ever. Why in the world would you allow your life to be documented and broadcasted live online 24/7? It’s different with reality tv shows because those things are scripted anyway. What Mae did was basically showering naked on stage 24/7 everyday.

The theme was great for me because like I said earlier, the possibility of this happening is not that unlikely. Unfortunately there were plenty of problems with the novel itself.

The plot had no sense of pacing. It’s not fair to make the readers read about Mae’s first week for almost 300 pages long. 100 pages would be pushing it, but Eggers decided what’s more fun than elaborating further how amazing it would be to work in The Circle. I almost didn’t finish this novel because of the boring first half of the novel. Eggers should be thankful that I was a bit more patient with this one.

Another awful thing would be the terribly boring characters. Mae was one stupid piece of transparent poop who should never be allowed to live in real life. If we have a Mae in real life, then humanity is truly in danger. Annie was a bit interesting at first, but once The Circle was introduced she proved to be no different. She was also pretty damn stupid. All the people who were above Mae were also damn boring. From Dan to Alistair to Jared, they were all typically the same characters with different names. Same goes for Mae and Annie.

Redeeming qualities? The whole idea of The Circle itself. While I stated above how opposed I was, all I’m saying is that the author tackled on a topic that I’m really interested in. What Eggers managed to fail at would be the characters and the pacing. Some parts were too long, and the good parts were also too short. May I add in that Mae’s decision in the end completely destroyed whatever character development there was beforehand.

Before I end this review, let me add in the fact that I’m still excited to watch the movie because Emma Watson is going to star as Mae. Hopefully the movie would be a lot better than this, but I’m not getting my hopes up. I really hope they would change the latter 3/4 of the novel though.

2/5 stars. Tempted to give this a 1 star but I didn’t really hate the novel that much. If only the characters were more interesting, this would’ve been a 3 or 4. Some of my friends enjoyed this a lot so I guess don’t be scared to give this a try, but I’m clearly not recommending it.

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