Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Book Review: 'The Circle' by Dave Eggers [Spoiler]

Sometime in September I was scrolling through the iBooks store and came across a book for pre-order.  It's summary piqued my interest.  And the book was Dave Eggers' 'The Circle'.

The iBooks summary intrigued me.  I do not recall the exact wording, but after reading it I thought it would most likely be a a pretty good literary piece of suspense that I could delve into and enjoy for a couple of weeks, so I pre-ordered the book and waited a few weeks for its release.

On release day I was really excited to begin on the book.  This feeling soon faded.  The story's build up was super slow and (dare I say) never really came. I see where the author was going with this book.  The concept is a good one, but the execution fails for me.  I painfully trudged through this book awaiting the grand reward of an "Aha!" moment…Of a dramatic rise and fall.. And I never got it.

There are a few good moments in the book.  These moments caused me to believe that UMPH was coming, but nope… Just didn't deliver!

The main character, Mae Holland,  gets a job at "The Circle" which is like: Facebook x Twitter x Google x Apple x Samsung.  This company is an all-encompassing social media and tech company involving itself with only the best of the best.  The working environment is great and everyone would love to actually be a part of it.

For Mae, this is the ideal position with the ideal company.   She literally gives her LIFE to this company; as do all of its employees.  At The Circle, daily "work" entails continuous activity on (personal) internal AND external social media sites, as well as your actual work for the company.  Each person has like 5-6 (or more) different screens on their desk at any given time to handle all the many daily tasks; mostly not directly work-related.  It seems extremely strenuous.

And just as Mae is getting into the groove of life at The Circle, she is asked to go "transparent" by wearing a camera to document her daily life.  By this point many politicians have worn such a camera and the company was working to phase this into a common concept among the general public; this transparency, which they believed would keep folks honest and reduce crimes and such.  And before long, cameras were placed in her parents' home (in which she did not reside) as well.   The Circle's dream was to basically have a world laden with public surveillance.  Like Big Brother times a trillion!!!  Imagine if anyone could go buy a tiny camera, described as being about the size of a lollipop, for under $60 each!  Anyone can place one anywhere!  (I imagine pure personal CHAOS for people worldwide!)

Oddly, everyone at the company and millions of American citizens thought these little cameras were a great idea.  And the ideas didn't stop there.  There were also drones readily available at low price points to normal, everyday citizens.  The entire idea is way out there and unbelievable that the masses were with it (in the book).

Well, she drives her ex-boyfriend to suicide with her demonstration of just how powerful the internet and The Circle's minions are.  Her parents severe ties with her and her best bud, Annie falls ill from the company's pressure.  PLUS she finds out that she (Mae) had been sleeping with founder of The Circle all along.


That last paragraph reads "exciting" but the book is honestly sooooo not exciting.  Somehow it all doesn't come together for the big BOOM as one would think it would.

However, I can say that there are things to take away from this book, such as:

  • Just how powerful social media and networks are over some.  When actions and beliefs are exaggerated for the sake of entertainment, many can laugh and say, "Glad I'm not like that.." or "..that's insane!" but many folks aren't too off the mark of insanity when it comes to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest…  I think we all know a few folks that are simply obsessed.  Any given minute within a day, this person is posting a picture, giving his/her thoughts, commenting on someone else's pictures and/or thoughts.. It's really life-consuming for some, sadly.  This book touches on that.  The absurdity of it.
  • How dangerous the masses can be when led by an idiotic thought.  And how so many conform.  Seemingly, just because the majority have conformed, many others will follow.  The world is filled to the brim with the weak-minded.  Again, this point is extremely exaggerated with this book, but that doesn't make the gist of the point any less valid.
  • Sometimes what begins as a great, harmless idea picks up momentum and becomes uncontrollably bad. The young founder of The Circle began something that he believed in and was (debatably) beneficial for the human race.  And he's powerless to rein the company back in from his partners' control and thoughts of a totally transparent world that lacks any sort of privacy and everyone is watched at all times.
  • And then we have, Mae: A sweet, only child born to older parents that only wishes to make her mark in the world and to have a true sense of self-worth.  She succumbs to The Circle and loses her true identity, I believe.  

So, there are some good points in the book.  They just never culminate into something explosive for me, as a reader.

And you know..After reading this book I realize that maybe my age bracket is not the audience this book is meant for.  I think back to if I were in elementary or middle school, 7th grade at the latest, I think I'd appreciate this book.  I recommend it for a good Tween book to check out.

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