Book 09: The Circle

Photo courtesy of Goodreads.

Title: The Circle

Author: Dave Eggers

Genre: Sci-Fi, contemporary,

Summary: Who doesn’t dream of landing a job as high-end, high-paying, and high-flying as Mae’s after graduation? The moment Mae stepped onto the campus of the Circle that was to be her work-time home, she felt the thrill and her privileged position to a part of the world’s foremost technology company. She was part of a community that housed the most brilliant minds of her time. She had access to all the latest of everything, from famous musicians to prototype products. Stimulating work during the day and raging parties at night. It was indeed paradise. All the glam, fame and access was blinding and numbing, but there began an uncomfortable tickle at the back of her mind of something that just didn’t feel right about all this. Young ambition and idealism soon gave way to a whirlwind of nightmares that questioned memory, transparency, privacy and some of the very essence of being an individual.

Eaten Thru On: Sunday, May 30, 2014

Thoughts:

Spoilers. Spoilers everywhere. Nothing but spoilers ahead.

This has been an extremely different dystopian novel. I don’t really know how I feel about this incredible gap between the dystopian books I have read and this one.

It’s all got to the protagonist.

In most of the previous novels, the protagonist struggles against the dictatorship or the dystopic core of their world. For example, in 1984, Winston Smith fights against the regime, Big Brother. If you are a YA fan, in Hunger Games, Katniss struggled against President Snow and all he stood for.

Having been conditioned to these types of main characters, I was expecting Mae to realize how crazy everything has become and to turn against the Three Wise Men and destroy the Circle. Even when book 3 came around, when there were only a few pages left, when Mae still haven’t reversed her collision course, I still expected some sort of turn out, some final struggle against the authoritarianism of it all.

It never arrived. She loved Big Brother from beginning until end.

That blew my mind.

Instead of struggling against, she struggled to love the monopoly and all its innovations. She was uncomfortable at the beginning, about all the breaches of her privacy. But slowly, she accepts the “progress” and starts to commend it, admire it, speaks for it. So much so, she willingly gave up everything and everyone that was dear to her in her life before the Circle. It is the story of how an ambitious, idealist girl becomes completely brainwashed and twisted, all the while conscious of and autonomously making her decisions.

The plot and ending definitely knocked the air out of my lungs. The writing was easy, smooth and simple, with no particularly beautifully composed sentences. And Eggers’ repeated drumming of the utopia of it all got rather irritating, especially by the end. So I struggled with the writing a bit.

Character-wise, I was disappointed with Ty and whom and how he chose to go about his sabotage. He was one of the Wise Ones, why couldn’t he have done something within the system himself? He was positioned perfectly within and had all the access to everything necessary to un-complete the Circle, yet he chose Mae. What for? Especially before she became transparent. She had little power over anyone. Was her spiral down into brainwashed oblivion part of his scheme? Why did he watch her fall and then try and pull her out to help his cause?

I was even more disappointed with Mae, but on another level, I empathized because in her shoes, I would probably have gone down a similar path, handed my brain and my life over to the holy Circle. But from a protagonist I expected her to be different from me. I expected her to be stronger, wiser and more vigilant so I can have idols to look up to instead of someone just like me (or dare I say, weaker than me).

I pitied Annie and despised Francis. Mercer was too extreme, and went about it all wrong. There really were no characters that I grew particularly close to.

But ultimately, it’s a good book to read especially in light of all the technological advances we have been witnessing and as modern-day tech companies gobble each other up.

Final Verdict: 3.5/5

Recommended For: dystopian-nerds, sci-fi chasers, technology-geeks, and anyone up for some high-tech conspiracy.

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