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Summary

When Mae 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. Mae can't believe her great fortune to work for them - 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...

©2013 Dave Eggers (P)2013 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

"Tremendous. Inventive, big hearted and very funny. Prepare to be addicted" ( Daily Mail)

What members say

Average customer ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Story

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Kaggy
  • United Kingdom
  • 16-08-15

Internet bad guys - so uncool!

This is a rollicking yarn masquerading as a dystopian vision of the future. Given the subject matter I shouldn't be too surprised that this is filled with cheesy characters telling each other how 'awesome' they are and that being thirty was 'like really old!' I did however enjoy hating the Circle with every ounce of my soul and cheering on the rebel characters. Mae is a chillingly dim heroine, but surely there is purpose in this, given the things she gets up to.

The reader did make some of the characters sound like they came straight out of South Park and this made me wonder if the book was actually meant to be funny.

Overall this book lacks subtlety but makes it up by being reasonably entertaining and with an almost nail biting ending. I can see this a being quite a good Hollywood film although I am not sure I would queue round the block to see it.

31 of 33 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Angus
  • Birmingham, United Kingdom
  • 04-11-14

Thought provoking but could have been much better

The themes in The Circle are interesting, it looks at how a 'Google-esque' company could go about taking over the world, however it is let down through a combination of cardboard characters and a badly structured narrative.

There are elements in the book that are excellently conceived and quite thought provoking (for example the growing number of screens on Mae's desk, is a simple device, but it works really well) however, whenever it seems as if the book is going to really take-off and become a classic, everything comes to a grinding halt.

Characters make ridiculous decisions, completely out of character with no explanation as to why (Mae rightly is rightly disgusted by something Francis does, but all this gets forgotten in the blink of an eye), or simply get forgotten about until being crow-barred back in to place for no other reason than plot (the character of Annie is almost omnipresent but disappears for an age and comes back with an inexplicably altered personality).

The book's pacing is very uneven too, switching between long highly detailed descriptions of the activities of The Circle and brief passages in which major plot are passed over in an instant. An example of the latter is the final plot twist, its consequences and resolution. Without giving anything away, this should be the heart of the book, and could have a featured an in-depth philosophical argument and given a key character a true ethical dilemma. Instead it's crammed (along with a clunky metaphorical scene featuring a tank full of sea-creatures from the deepest parts of the ocean) into the final 20 minutes of the audiobook in a most unsatisfactory way.

In terms of the audiobook narration, this was fine. Occasionally the narrator would play a line in a way I don't think the author would have intended, but on the whole the performance was good. There would at times be strange pauses in the flow of the narration, this would make you think that a section had finished only to continue a couple of seconds later, which was slightly annoying

On the whole, The Circle isn't entirely bad, there is a good book trying breakout out - it's just that the poor elements far outweigh the better bits of the book.

35 of 38 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

The googlefication of life

Would you try another book written by Dave Eggers or narrated by Dion Graham?

The story is both relevant and interesting: what would life be like if the boundaries between work and life, public and private sphere disappeared to the extent that our existence became entirely "corporate"? The allusions to Orwell and Zamyatin are obvious, and the model for the titular company is clearly the world of Google: all the perks for workers are really means to bind them more tightly into the company and to make them work harder, to google-fy and apple-sync until there is no longer any world outside the corporate universe and all personal freedoms are yielded voluntarily. Technology becomes the new totalitarianism.And yet the story is so predictable (even the twist at the end can be spotted a mile away), and the characters so mediocre that it's actually hard to care about them. One character in particular becomes the kind of mouthpiece for authorial views that even the most rudimentary creative writing workshop (let alone editorial office!) would have told the writer to kill, modify or silence. At times I felt really quite patronised as a reader: I can think for myself, thank you.However, I can't fault the reader's performance: he did manage to make the characters distinct, and giving a voice to the criminally naive female protagonist cannot have been easy. Really well done.

Would you recommend The Circle to your friends? Why or why not?

No, I wouldn't. Listening to the last hour was a bit of a chore.

If this book were a film would you go see it?

Nope.

Any additional comments?

This needed editing to fulfil its potential because there is a really good novel in there. Beats me whether the author was resistant to advice or whether it's now okay to publish plodding and predicable material because your name is already "out there" and people buy the books anyway.

19 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Shallow and self-absorbed

The story of a shallow, 2-dimensional and self-absorbed young woman as she joins the most successful company in the world.
Utterly forgetful characters, self-important and shallow story with a hurried meaningless ending.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

How did they green light this as a film?

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

People who can suspend their basic knowledge of how others think may get something out of this story. But I very much doubt it

Would you ever listen to anything by Dave Eggers again?

Unlikely, very unlikely to listen to another Eggers book.

What aspect of Dion Graham’s performance might you have changed?

Graham's portrayal of female characters is shockingly bad. He makes them out to be high pitched moany creatures all the time, regardless of the context or setting.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

This book is incredibly disappointing! How did they every think to turn it into a movie with the likes of Emma Watson playing May?

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

One of the most boring books I have read

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

Possibly someone a lot younger, but I really do not know

What was most disappointing about Dave Eggers’s story?

Although it looked promising with the idea that the internet could one day completely takeover both our work and private lives, the book was too long and plodding. Thought provoking for a while but then just tedious. I tried manfully to finish it, always hoping something unexpected would happen but just gave up. It is very unusual for me to not finish a book.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

So disappointing

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

The near future what Google could become was well imagined. The story might appeal to a social media marketing intern provided they have never read a book before.

What was most disappointing about Dave Eggers’s story?

The characters were terrible and unbelievable, there was an incredibly clumsy metaphor crowbarred in, and there was a rubbish twist.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

The narrator gave a spirited performance and despite some of his voices sounding like they came from Sesame Street he made the book far more interesting than the material warranted.

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The circle and the things the company did were well imagined. Shame it was seemingly a company populated by the most retarded people in a planet full of retards.

Any additional comments?

A bad story in a good setting is still a bad story.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

THIS HOLIDAY SEASON: GET READY FOR THIS VOICE

Narrated with CONSTANT SURPRISE and WONDER and with a voice that was A BIT OVER THE TOP for me

Also, yet another story with a female protagonist but voiced by a man. And a man who SOUNDS like THIS to BOOT

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

A very clunky novel

Clunky, in the sense that 1984 and Atlas Shrugged are clunky, this is a plodding novel tackling sociology and economics in the digital age. I read it in this spirit - as a discussion of the dilemmas we face with big data and social networks: the advantages of transparency Vs privacy and identifiability Vs anonymity, forcing social responsibility and conformity against the individual's 'right' to stay apart, unmonitored and anti-social. To my mind I ended up more in favour of transparency and forced identification; Eggers seems to land few punches in favour of anonymity, despite trying to warn of some dystopian, digital future.

Clunky means the characters are made of cardboard and there is virtually no plot. People behave in unlikely ways and believe unlikely things (in my experience, people are much less easy to lead by the nose than Eggers thinks). Eggers also makes the classic errors of a man narrating as a woman: his heroine, May, enjoys, and is keen to repeat, perfunctory (but hugely satisfying) sex in a toilet with a strange man who has failed to give her his name (and turns out to be... oh, I shouldn't spoil things, should I? ). The only clothes described are when May is 'wearing a red silk blouse and black skirt'. Dave, either do some research into how women think or narrate as a man.

Narration. Professional, appropriately Californian.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

FROWN

Great concept but absolutely nothing happens that's not predictable and it's so repetitive. So real disappointing read!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Q147
  • 10-10-18

True for today

I loved this book!
We are all caught in the web of technology and this book actually points out various pitfalls to avoid.
Basic truths that you may want to forget is highlighted and you actually think about it and how it not only influences the characters in the story but also impacts on your own life.
A definite must listen/read