The Circle by Dave Eggers
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Opening this book for my Advanced Expository Writing class this fall, I thought it was going to be a pretty cool read. I mean, 1984 in the Silicon Valley, on a campus that's basically a mashup of Google and Facebook and Apple? What could go wrong?
A lot, as it turns out.
Eggers, from what I hear, is one of those writers who spends his time mostly doing "literary" things, usually grand visions of some personal significance to him, and some creative nonfiction as well. This book, featuring a female protagonist and dipping its toe into social science fiction as well as dystopian, was a little out of Eggers' comfort zone, I think, and it shows. Mae is a paper-thin, unengaging, flat protagonist (an insult to women, basically) who only exists to be subjugated by the insidious titular corporation, whose tactics anyone with a remote knowledge of this genre could smell a mile away. It's a Twenty Minutes Into The Future corporate dystopia - Facebook takes over the world! (Not Google or Apple - I'd like to think those companies are a little more benevolent than that, whereas Facebook, I kinda distrust, but that's neither here nor there.) But the plot and its underlying commentary are subtle as sledgehammers, and hinge entirely on Mae not sensing anything amiss until it's too late - and even then, dismissing it as impossible because the Circle can't possibly be doing anything bad, can they?
I had to read this book for a class, and write no less than four increasingly long, in-depth papers about it. I can tell you this much - spare yourself. The Circle wants so hard to be the next 1984 that it falls flat on its face and makes you wanna throw the book with great force just so it'll damage that face even more.
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