di's Reviews > The Circle

The Circle by Dave Eggers
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it was ok
bookshelves: general-fiction, sci-fi-and-dystopia

Unfortunately, despite an intriguing premise and my high hopes, I feel obliged to give THE CIRCLE more frowns than smiles. In Mae's extreme/bizarre opinion, my "dislike" may as well equate to murder, or hatred at least. Really it's just disappointment.

"Smiles":

--The ending. Mae (view spoiler) was the perfect outcome. Any sort of (view spoiler) would have lost the book entirely to lameness.

--The exploration of an interesting idea. Private vs public. Social media at its extreme.

--Part II, where Mae is (view spoiler), raises the stakes nicely, and increases the tension. (In fact, this is potentially the first time the stakes are raised in the book.)

"Frowns":

--The Kalden 'twist' was very obvious from early on, and that cringe-worthy scene underground gave it away entirely. (You know, passwords, top secret underground bunkers, old mattresses, Mae 'falling apart all over' Kalden. *ugh*)

--The sex/'romantic' scenes. All of them. With Francis they were supposed to be bad but the Kalden scenes were worse. When she imagines herself 'sitting on his crown' I feel nauseous.

--How dumb is Mae? E.g. Was she surprised to hear Ty's summation of Francis's TruYouth idea? Is the permanence of implanting chips inside the bones of infants not obvious? And did she really think that Mercer would appreciate being stalked by the world via flying cameras? Apparently she thought Mercer would "laugh too," and would "shake his head in admiration for the power of the wonderful tools at her disposal." Okay.

--Mercer's (view spoiler) was far too predictable in terms of plot--Eggers needed to show shocking worst case scenarios for the plot to have impact--and in terms of character it fell flat. I did not believe for a second that Mercer would actually (view spoiler). His character was not developed well enough for me to buy it.

--Every time the crowd 'roared' or 'erupted with laughter' at one of Bailey's lame jokes I was tempted to close the book for good.

--The book could do with some serious editing. The descriptions of the ins and outs of Mae's desk job could be cut down by a half. In fact, most of the pages could be cut down by a half.

--The majority of the book is unbelievable, to say the least. E.g. In what world would someone get into so much trouble for not attending an inordinate number of mundane work functions?

--Worst of all, the character development--or lack thereof. Bailey is a caricature. Mercer is a caricature. Annie is weak. Those two social police people, and Mae's boss, Dan, all talk like the cast of a bad sitcom, ("Let's put a pin in that thought"), and Mae acts and thinks like an imbecile. Continually. Much more so than any likeable/relatable protagonist should.

So, IMO: frown.
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Reading Progress

December 28, 2013 – Started Reading
December 28, 2013 – Shelved
December 30, 2013 –
page 248
50.3%
December 30, 2013 –
page 508
100%
December 31, 2013 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-24 of 24 (24 new)

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William If I had read this review before writing my own I might have taken off another star, you are absolutely correct about all of this!


Jess Clever review!


Antonia totally agree with you! SMILE


Alexis I totally agree too. *ugh* so disappointed with this book all the same reasons.


Lotte Turtel I have not finished it completely, but I already agree with you on most points.


Elysha I felt the same about most of the issues you mention, except that I can't complain about the lack of character development. It was clear that most of the characters were supposed to be caricatures of vapid imbeciles. The book explored in detail, I thought, the mental landscape of characters who methodically doubt their own subjective experience and judgment and rely entirely on external affirmation. Mae of course excelled within the circle by doubting herself more thoroughly than everyone. I found it plausible that the cult-like functioning of the Circle effectively inhibited the character development of its participants.


message 7: by di (new) - rated it 2 stars

di Hi Elysha, I am referring to the concept of character development as a literary tool--as in characterisation. A well-written or 'developed' character should come across as complex and psychologically believable--an authentic human being--through the author's clever use of speech, thoughts, actions, the character's traits portrayed in the narrative etc. Alternatively, poor writing creates underdeveloped characters who are flat and stereotypical. You mentioned self-doubt, which is an authentic human experience that a skilful author will write well. If 'vapid imbeciles' are the characters, then a skilful author will create realistic vapid imbeciles. The characters in this book are poorly written. If it was truly a stylistic intention on the author's part to create 'caricatures', then he has achieved that ambition.


Heather This is exactly everything I felt/thought once I finished the book! Very well written and explained. You were nicer though, I only rated it one star. :) <-- smile, I did it.


Sean Gill Good review! The description of her desk job was tedious, but I felt it served to show how empty and meaningless a lot of the data and communications she captured were. I don't actually buy that critique of "big data" but I could understand the point. Agree with you about Mercer. Seems like he should have confronted her or the followers on camera.


message 10: by Lean (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lean All your points are good. For: "In what world would someone get into so much trouble for not attending an inordinate number of mundane work functions?" In a brainwashing cult.


Ashley This sums up my exact thoughts. This is the first time I've ever read a book where I hated every single character.


Heejung awesome review will *zing it smile


Darrin I don't believe Mae is supposed to be likable and I don't believe she is the protagonist at all. She's the antagonist. Kalden and Mercer are the actual protagonists.

They both saw what was happening and did their best to either avoid it (Mercer) or stop it (Kalden) but they were mere observers. It was too late. There was a sense of inevitability to it. And by writing the book from the perspective of an antagonist it underscores the powerlessness of the protagonists.


Molly "How dumb is Mae? E.g. Was she surprised to hear Ty's summation of Francis's TruYouth idea? Is the permanence of implanting chips inside the bones of infants not obvious? And did she really think that Mercer would appreciate being stalked by the world via flying cameras? Apparently she thought Mercer would 'laugh too,' and would 'shake his head in admiration for the power of the wonderful tools at her disposal.' Okay."

Yeah. She didn't come across as unintelligent initially, and the fact that she so quickly, wholeheartedly bought what the Circle was selling when she started out as the type of person who might go a couple of weeks without checking social media seemed fairly unbelievable. I don't know what she was thinking with what she did to Mercer.


message 15: by Yikai (new) - rated it 1 star

Yikai Wang Agree with all. Also, Mae has no skills, this is digital industry not Hollywood, does anyone really think it's possible to climb in this career by stealing a kayak? I don't see how she becomes popular at all! And yes, the jokes and talks are too lame and shallow!


Stacey Kennedy Yes yes YES! I agree with all of this! Those characters! FROWN! All flat and undeveloped and unbelievable- like you said with Mercer. Obviously something exteme had to happen but that's just NOT the way it would have gone down. It could have been a really good book....


Brittany Dusek Yes yes yes. Mae's reactions during the entire chasing-Mercer-with-drones pages were so absurd that all I could envision was a robot trying to act like a dumb blonde. And not in the way Eggers intended.

I cringe every time I think about it, "It's me, silly! Mae!!" You weren't even friends anymore, he wanted nothing to do with you?!


message 18: by Aline (new) - rated it 1 star

Aline I totally agree. I really wanted to like this book, but all was so annoying and mostly unbelievable.


message 19: by Anna (new) - rated it 2 stars

Anna Mosena This review describes all of my thoughts perfectly, haha.


Stacey Good review! I actually liked the book, but some of your points were spot on. Definitely think the book would have been 10x better without describing all the nitty gritty details of replying to messages and customer descriptions. At some point I felt like I was reading a training manual for CE. I felt like the author would have used that better in developing the characters more, learning more about their pasts, motives, etc.


Shruti Echoes my thoughts !


Amber Kneuss spot on review! I just watched the movie. yeah.....there's a movie on Amazon. It's the first time I've said this but it is better than the book. But hardly even worth watching.


Sophy H Ha ha di, I literally pissed myself laughing at the "sitting on his crown" bit too!!! Just just no Dave Eggers!


Rachel 100% agree with this review!


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