Book Review: The Circle

The latest book I read was The Circle by Dave Eggers, which is apparently coming out as a movie in 2016.  Look at me!  Ahead of the game!

Synopsis from Amazon: “When Mae Holland 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. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world—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. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.”

My take on the book: Holy shit, what a mindfuck of a book.  It wasn’t a difficult read, but it felt slow at times.  You can see even in the synopsis above, that much of the book was describing the company culture.  However, culture is an understatement.  I had to pay close attention to not skim over description (like I have a tendency to do), but to really process the environment.  The horrendous control of this company isn’t obvious, it’s insidious.  Creeping in on every aspect of life in a helpful, unobtrusive way.  Much in the same way you wonder how on earth all of Germany could go along with Hitler as long as they did, this book describes how people could go along with this company (this monopolistic, totalitarian company) as long as they did.

The book drew me in and didn’t let go.  I had to be careful reading it on the subway, because I was so engrossed at one point that I actually missed my stop!

My only complaint, and I haven’t even decided if it’s a complaint, is the ending.  It was not a happy ending.  It was not the ending you’d expect of a book being made into a movie.  Usually, movies like to tie up all the loose ends into a neat, happy little package.  For awhile, it looked as if that’s where this story was going.  A happy ending for the characters you cared about.  An unhappy ending for the ones you didn’t.  Alas, no.  I don’t want to give to much away except to say that the ending left you hanging, unsatisfied (not necessarily dissatisfied, just not satisfied).  You’re left with a hole, empty, open circle, yearning for closure, to be completed.

As I said, I don’t know if that’s a complaint.  If that’s a bad thing.  It certainly was an unexpected and chilling ending, which is in line with the book.  In the interest of not playing into expected tropes and cliches, it certainly succeeded.  It was like a really good horror movie.

My take on the movie: The movie, starring Emma Watson, is due out in theaters in 2016.  No more details available on IMDB, but I’m definitely down with that casting choice.  Perfect fit for the main character!

Obviously, I can’t review the movie as I haven’t seen it, but I did want to complain (and I’m sure this one is a complaint) about the “storyline” on IMDB: “A woman lands a job at a powerful tech company called the Circle, where she becomes involved with a mysterious man.”

Fuck that.  While there is a relationship with a “mysterious man,” that is nowhere near the point of the book IMO, and of course that’s the angle Hollywood wants to play up.  UGH.

 

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  1. Pingback: Book Review: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls | Quitters Never Win

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