Yet another gargantuan book that I took on because of the abundance of high praise, only to slog through as much as I could before I abandoned it. ThiYet another gargantuan book that I took on because of the abundance of high praise, only to slog through as much as I could before I abandoned it. This is not a negative review -- I just don't have the patience I once had, or the time, and unfortunately it seems that these days I need my books to have a good hook, a faster pace, and less exposition.
The old saying, 'Don't judge a book by its cover' certainly rings true here. And I have to admit that I was guilty of doing so before being told to juThe old saying, 'Don't judge a book by its cover' certainly rings true here. And I have to admit that I was guilty of doing so before being told to just read the damn thing. It didn't help that the book was published by a very small publishing house that I'd never heard of -- I assumed it might have even been self-published.
My first reaction was: why is Lisa Regan not huge? Why is she not being courted by the big guns? So weird.
All that being said, the book is great for what it is -- a fast-paced thriller that entertains, and keeps your interest, and does not fall victim to so many of the pitfalls of the genre. While it's not 'great,' it's worth your time if you are a fan of SJ Watson, Chevy Stevens, Gillian Flynn, etc.. I think if Regan had had the resources of a more established publishing house, the book may have been tightened up a bit in the editing process. Regardless, it's certainly a whole lot better than many of the 'next Gone Girl!' books that publishers have been pouring millions into over the past few years. What it lacks in psychological complexity and clever narrative gimmicks it makes up for with believable procedural stuff, well-written dialogue, and characters who feel believable.
I have loved a few of Winslow's books. I know everyone loves this, and it has been called 'epic' and 'a masterpiece,' but I just couldn't get into it.I have loved a few of Winslow's books. I know everyone loves this, and it has been called 'epic' and 'a masterpiece,' but I just couldn't get into it. It's not you, Don, it's me. Maybe I'll come back to it at another time. ...more
2 1/2 stars. Wanted it to be much better. It certainly has a great premise, but it simply didn't deliver for me. It read to me like a draft of a novel2 1/2 stars. Wanted it to be much better. It certainly has a great premise, but it simply didn't deliver for me. It read to me like a draft of a novel, a promising one. ...more
I abandoned it. The premise, the book jacket, blurbs, and all accompanying hype about this book led me to believe that this was the book I was lookingI abandoned it. The premise, the book jacket, blurbs, and all accompanying hype about this book led me to believe that this was the book I was looking for. I like the *idea* of science fiction. Two of my very favorite movies are science fiction-ish (Brazil, Blade Runner). I loved Dune and The Martian Chronicles as a child. But I simply haven't found much sci-fi literature that hits that sweet spot for me (which, I think, would best be described as socially conscious science fiction that has some combination of emotional depth, satire/socio-political commentary, artistry, and memorable characters. The Martian had all the opportunities in the world to explore some really deep universal truths about life. There is nothing more harrowing than the idea of being abandoned alone in a place from which you may never return. Yet, the book reads more like a how-to manual, with jokes (jokes that didn't ring true to me -- I'm not sure that an abandoned person keeping a journal would leave behind half-baked wisecracks about 70's television show cliches, etc.)
This book has garnered great reviews. And I don't mean to slag it. It is good for what it is -- I just wanted it to be something that it wasn't, and something that I don't believe it attempted to be. I need to care about the characters and feel that they ring true. The protagonist here seemed to me almost like a cardboard stand-in, a vehicle for the instruction manual of how to survive on Mars with limited supplies and compromised living quarters. Fascinating on some level, but it grew tiresome for me, since I didn't feel that this character was real in any way.
I'm sure it will be made into a film, if it's not already underway. Hopefully, a director and screenwriter of certain caliber can inject some pathos into the story. ...more
The world would be a bit of a better place if everyone read this book. We can't change anything until we understand that everyone is fighting their owThe world would be a bit of a better place if everyone read this book. We can't change anything until we understand that everyone is fighting their own battle -- often those battles are what is most similar about every human being alive. ...more
If you are a Partridge fan, this is the funniest book ever. If you aren't, do yourself a favor and locate all the Alan Partridge series (plural). TherIf you are a Partridge fan, this is the funniest book ever. If you aren't, do yourself a favor and locate all the Alan Partridge series (plural). There's not many people who make me laugh as much as (Coogan as) Partridge. ...more
There's no other way to describe Dave Eggers' 'The Circle' other than to say "It's kind of our '1984.'" And then to follow that with some caveats.
ThiThere's no other way to describe Dave Eggers' 'The Circle' other than to say "It's kind of our '1984.'" And then to follow that with some caveats.
This is probably the most far-out Dave Eggers book. Most of his books are very real and visceral to the point that you can't remember which of them are fiction and which are not (there seems to be a fine line with Eggers' books). This is definitely the most fantastical thing he's attempted, and, for the most part, he greatly succeeds in what (I think) he tried to accomplish: to make us re-think our attitudes towards the rapid encroachment of the internet, most importantly, social media, on our every day lives.
There has not been an invention in the past 100 years that has so drastically changed the way humans behave than the internet (and, by default, social media and big data). We've all heard seemingly progressive statements from internet gurus such as, "We're simply giving people the services they want," or in some cases (and more apropos to Eggers' book), "They don't know they want these services until we create them.'
As someone who has embraced social media and all of the diminished privacy that goes along with it, Eggers' book was a wake-up call. The book is, like those by Orwell and Swift, a satire of sorts, and a prophetic morality tale. I simultaneously bought and rejected many of Eggers' premises and suppositions about humanity's embracement of complete online transparency. And many will fault Eggers for just that: so much of his premise relies on the supposition that we humans that embrace progress will turn a blind eye to the evils that accompany transparency and the appreciation of mass accumulated data. While we can all appreciate data when it comes to scientific study or political analysis, we don't feel quite as good about it when it comes to giving up our private conversations and bedroom activities. In Eggers' world, the latter seems to be as benign as the former (or at least we've come to see it as such). That's one of the only flaws -- and we're willing to overlook it simply because the story, and the material, is so compelling.
No character in The Circle is very likable. I'm not sure what to make of that. Mae, the central character, is not terribly sympathetic. As a reader, I found myself shaking my head at her and disliking her more often than not. Maybe she reminds me of people I've worked with: people that are susceptible to the cult of personality, and who will change their views to gain their favor. Just because I'm familiar with Mae doesn't mean I'm empathetic to her.
It's a sign of a great storyteller when you are compelled to find out what happens to a bunch of characters that you don't particularly care for. It also says a lot for the subject matter, which has been broached by several great novelists, but never quite taken as head-on as in The Circle.
I don't necessarily think The Circle will end up as the 1984 of our generation, mostly because in ten years it will likely seem incredibly dated. Eggers relies too much on the current nature of social media and big data (with Google, Facebook, and Twitter basically merging into what is known as The Circle. But that doesn't mean that it isn't a great novel. It is. And it is a very 'now' novel that can have an impact, and I would go so far as to call it an IMPORTANT novel.
It should be one of those novels that causes a dialogue. The concerns that arise from the Circle are imminent and 100% valid. The world Eggers lays out for us is not ridiculously as far-out as we might think. And, as with Mae, how things go can hinge on whether or not we accept or reject the lure of unfettered transparency. ...more