Not-a-Review: The Circle by Dave Eggers

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Hi Friends! Welcome to my very first Not-a-Review.

I came up with this concept because when I look through reviews to decide whether or not I want to invest my time and money into a book, I want to know one simple thing, the same thing I look for in a movie review, but that I hardly ever get: was it entertaining?

I don’t care if it’s award-worthy, I care a little if it’s tangible—here I mean the characters, character development, and plot progression—but I care A LOT if it’s entertaining. That’s why we read isn’t it, to have fun? I don’t want to waste my time with a book. Since the answer to this question can be hard to find amidst a more lengthy review, I decided to make it easier for anyone like me, who just wants a quick assessment of entertainment factor when they are looking to buy a book.

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The Circle by Dave Eggers

Genre: Science Fiction
Page count: 497
Release Date: October 2013

I’ll admit it, the only reason I knew that this book even existed was because I saw the movie trailer… and immediately went to amazon to order it. I mean, who doesn’t want to read something with Emma Watson’s stamp of approval.

The Circle is about twenty-something year old Mae Holland, who finds herself indebtedly grateful when she is plucked from the monotony of her gray burlap cubicle and thrown into the exciting, innovative, and open-minded world of The Circle, a Google-Apple-Galactic-Empire hybrid that has taken the world by storm, consuming most other interfaces. The story follows Mae, full of homegrown naivety and eager to please, on her journey of adaptation and discovery within her new, shiny, circle surroundings.

Character: Meh
Plot: Meh
Worldbuilding: Eh?
Flow: Rereader
Entertainment factor: Meh [★★★]
Did I enjoy this book? Yes.
Do I think the read a waste of time? No.
Would I read it again? Probably not.
Bonus question: Will I see the movie? Ummmm, duh. Emma Watson’s in it.

Rating: Meh.

3 stars

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If you want to know a bit more about what led me to this rating, feel free to keep reading. If not, congratulations! That’s it! You’re done! Now, go buy a book (or not)!

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*Possible Spoilers Ahead*

My first impression of this premise was that this was going to be a thought provoking ride about the influence of social media steeped in satire. Towards the middle I started to see a generation gap poking its wrinkled, gray head through the words, sporting a technology-is-evil type train of thought.

During the first parts of this novel I found that I could completely relate to Mae. But, as I followed her through her introduction to Circle life my brain got exhausted several times during the sequences of numbered-ratings and the endless phony online interactions between Mae and her coworkers. During some of these scenes I even had to put the book down and take a break.

This is probably the reason why I found some of Mae’s decisions so mind-bogglingly follow-the-leader, with me mentally screaming at her by the end of the book. I get the need to please, believe me. I’m a been there, done that type of girl. I also get the desire not to ruin your “shot”. But I found the eagerness with which she ate up the ridiculousness of the Circle unbelievable, whether or not it was meant to be a character flaw, and found myself internally screaming at Mae for the latter half of the novel. The deeper I got into the plot, the more I found the Circle’s “innovations” extreme to the point of disbelief. Then there’s the unfathomable, cultist fall of society down the social-media-transparency-rabbit-hole that I’m not even going to touch on.

I went into this read expecting something more along the lines of Fahrenheit 451 or 1984. For a premise that holds a lot of promise and proves relevant in today’s world, I must say that the execution fell short for me. The more I read, the more I felt like a thirteen year-old being lectured by her parents after getting her first Facebook account. I feel like, had the ending gone in another direction, I wouldn’t have felt so let down and might have enjoyed this read much more than I did. Overall, the flow of the novel was fine for me and it was definitely an entertaining read, but the direction taken by the character and plot fell short of what I was expecting.

If you’re still reading, give yourself a pat on the back! You got further than I usually do!

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